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Invisible River

3.09  ·  Rating details ·  103 ratings  ·  38 reviews
When Evie and her father say good-bye at the train station, they are both on their own for the first time since her mother's death. But Evie is not lonely for long. At art school in London, she is quickly caught up in colors and critiques, gallery visits and sketching expeditions. She finds fiercely loyal friends-Rob, pragmatic and pregnant; Bianca, dramatic and Italian; ...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published February 1st 2011 by Bloomsbury USA
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Average rating 3.09  · 
Rating details
 ·  103 ratings  ·  38 reviews

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Ian Mapp
Mar 02, 2012 rated it did not like it
If I was good at anagrams, I'm sure I could "risible tosh" out of the title, but I am not that talented.

I picked up the book because a) it was about London and B) She was next to Ian McEwan in the library.

I thought I would give her a go - the press quotes on the back are superb and I was expecting a great read. I am staggered by this.... if ever I felt that I should have a go a fiction it was reading this book. I may not get the same levels of praise but I would settle for a "not bad". Based on
Marie McLean
This book held a lot of promise, but unfortunately just didn’t deliver.

It was positively drowning in colour. Every. Single. Descriptive. Hue. Even the word ‘colour’ appeared hundreds of times, and eventually detracted from the story. However, I’m sure students of art would appreciate this aspect of the novel far more than I did.

Set in London, many well-known locations are named. However, it’s not the London I remember. I couldn’t relate to the author’s descriptions of famous landmarks, and felt
Mar 30, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
How extraordinary to open a new novel by an author you have grown to love and discover that her heroine was setting off from your home town on the same journey that you have made many, many times.

… I saw St Michael’s Mount slip away behind the hedges, with the sun glinting on the sea.

“Let me go!” I shouted to the sea, and then the hedges and into the marshes at Marazion.

And all the way through Cornwall past Redruth and Camborne and Bodmin Moor and St Austell I could feel the pull of my father
Jan 10, 2011 rated it liked it
I won an advance readers copy (ARC) of this book through Goodreads and received it in the mail yesterday. I ended up reading it last night (staying up way too late).

The gist of the story is that Evie leaves home and her drunkard father to attend art school in London. She makes some good and quirky friends and has a hint of potential romance when her father turns up passed out on her stoop one night.

She struggles with the love she has for her father and the contempt she feels toward his
Jan 06, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: arc, first-reads
Invisible River is the story of Evie, an English art student who is headed to school in London. She is leaving behind her father and the woman who raised her, but she quickly finds three close friends and one fascinating boy. The only problem is that he already has a girlfriend.

McEwen has a very concise writing style, without a word going to waste, but her descriptions of London and the art the students see and create is very vivid. Evie is a synesthete and McEwen's descriptions of the colors in
Jan 04, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-2011
I actually won an advanced reader's copy of this book through Goodreads First Reads. It took me entirely too long to finish. Not because I didn't like it or because it was boring. Real life just got in the way.

I absolutely loved this book. It was beautifully written. It was poetic and deep and complex and just wonderful. I loved the fact that McEwen made this character so in tune with her surroundings. Eve was always hearing colors and tasting feelings. And not in a crazy, tripped-out LSD way,
Jun 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This book appears to have received pretty low star-ratings, but I have to say I really enjoyed it.
Eve, the protagonist, goes up to London to start a new life at Chelsea Art School. She leaves her alcoholic father behind in Cornwall. Once at Art school, she falls in love with the colour and history of London, and cycles or walks around the city, painiting and exploring, The descriptions of her new friendships are beautiful, as are the joy that she finds in her new surroundings. Having worked for
Jan 10, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: first-reads
I received a free copy of this book through goodreads and the description and concept sounded excellent. I really enjoyed the last 2/3 of the book but the beginning was painful to wade through. I really enjoyed the portions of the book that dealt with relationships, Evie’s father, and Evie working through her anxiety and grief. The first 100 pages could use some serious revision to focus more on the characters and less on the protracted descriptions of everyday items and art supplies. The other ...more
Jan 10, 2011 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: art enthusiasts
Shelves: giveaways
Thank you, Goodreads/First Reads for providing me with this book!

I understood that this book was going to be about a girl attending art school in London, but I had no idea just how much influence art was going to have on the story. I know that the author is an artist and you can definitely tell. Everything was described so vividly. Everything had a color. Admittedly I became tired of reading about the many, many colors and descriptions. It was overdone.

I wish more time would have been spent on
Jun 25, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2011
While reading this book I felt the rating I wanted to give it constantly fluctuating between 2 and 4 stars. At last I can to a decisive 3 stars. My rational was that I like the writing and I liked the idea of the story enough to give it 4 stars. However, the untapped story of such great characters was really annoying. Here the author had these great characters to work with and not only did she miss the opportunity to develop them in her writing she also missed a second opportunity when she ...more
Mar 26, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
When Evie goes to art school in London, she leaves her alcoholic father on his own only to have him show up drunk on her doorstep a few months later. Luckily Evie has made some good friends at school who can support her through this time.

This was a sleepy, meandering book. The author is great at using descriptive language and the book is filled with her robust imagery. The problem is that there isn't that much plot or character development behind that imagery. I didn't feel connected to Evie or
Feb 15, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: first-reads
I won this book through Goodreads first reads way back in February, but it has taken me until June to finish it. This book could not hold my attention. The way the book was organised did not work for me, you never really got to know the characters, and the story would focus on a certain "idea" for only a few pages and then the story would change. It seemed like a collection of stories. To make up for the lack of character description, the setting and the paintings seemed to be over-described to ...more
Adriana Bulgarelli
Mar 11, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Eve leaves her father in their countryside cottage and moves to London to study painting. At the Art school she meets a bunch of girlfriends and they start sharing their lives. Eve's father comes and goes and eventually is gone, the pain she feels is soothened by this beautiful friendship.
Helena McEwen paints with words, every moment of Eve's life is present with vivid colors in the reader's mind.

"Sometimes it's all too much, don't you think?"
"That's why people paint, Eve, why they write music
Apr 05, 2012 rated it liked it
It was an interesting book told in the narration of first person and much like a diary entry. The beginning was a little slow going as we are introduced to all these different characters, but then it gets intense. I wish that we had a better estimate on what year it takes place and the ages of the characters. I orginally thought it was modern times but it seems to be more 1960 when you reach the end. I liked all the English slang. I am so lucky to have won it in a giveaway. I hope there are more ...more
Karen Gemind
Apr 14, 2011 rated it it was ok
I almost got into this story after Evie's father was introduced. But I could never understand why Evie wanted to be a painter, or how she came to attend the London school. The beginning was interesting enough and I initially thought I was on an exciting journey, but then hit a dead end. The writer's language is beautiful, but I felt that character development was lacking. Even Evie's little infatuation was without purpose. This is the first Helena McEwen book I've read; maybe I'll try another ...more
Feb 26, 2011 rated it liked it
I almost gave this book 2 stars. I found the banter between college aged kids very annoying and had a difficult time with continuing the book. I am very happy I did though. The book truly was about a daughter of a non-functioning alcoholic coming to terms with it while continuing to try to live and normal life while sudddenly having him thrust upon her again while she is attending art school. He, on the other hand, is trying to come to terms with the death of his wife through the use of ...more
Apr 11, 2012 rated it did not like it
I found this book really tough going, it was slow, it dragged, there were one or two moments that meant that I didn't entirely discard it, but I did skim many pages because I just didn't find it engaging or interesting. The book was written in a very loose style with many short chapters and snippets of information rather than anything of much substance. Returned to the library pronto, I'm glad I didn't buy this book.
Dec 28, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: early-reviewers
While this book doesn't contain a ton of intricate plot details, it is a quick and engaging read. McEwan uses beautiful, profound imagery to propel the characters into a new world and describe their experiences through the eyes of artists. The colors and scenery alone will have you turning pages until the last minute, and the end of the book will leave you swirling with thoughts and emotions. A refreshing and easy read.
Darlene Ferland
Jan 06, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads
Riveting read for those looking for suspense, courage, love and choices! Evie becomes an intimate friend of the reader while following her journey. Reacting to the choices she had to make and continuing on her life's quest, the reader grows with her. It would be a crime to disclose the intricacies of Ms. McEwen's tale . . I suggest buying or borrowing this novel as it will touch your soul. Thank you Firstreads for a most enjoyable "read!"
Dec 11, 2012 rated it liked it

I couldn't give higher than 3 stars. The writing style that many reviewers seemed to really love just seemed overwrought and overly descriptive to me. There were definitely some pearls of beauty in the book, but much of it felt like the author was trying to impress her Creative Writing teacher. I did like the storyline of Eve coming to terms with her alcoholic father, but wish that storylines for some of the other characters had been explored more.
Stephanie Lindsay Hagen
Mar 15, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads
Evie is off to art school in London, leaving behind her widowed, alcoholic father. During the next year she does much soul searching as she deals with loss, love and learning to let go. Through it all, Evie is supported by her amazing circle of friends.

Helena McEwen writes in color. There isn't a lot of story here but the word painting is exceptional. When it comes to beautiful imagery, Helena McEwen is a master.
Dec 13, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: own-it, first-reads, 2011
I won this ARC from GoodReads...

At first, I enjoyed the detail that the author put into the descriptions in the book. I could see everything perfectly in my head as I read along. And then, I sort of got tired of the descriptions and just wanted the story!

On the whole, however, I enjoyed reading this book. It was a nice escape for the past few rainy days.

Jan 11, 2011 rated it it was ok
I won an advance readers copy of this book and was excited to get started reading it. Unfortunately I picked it up to start reading and it simply didn't do anything for me. I started it and put it aside several times before getting through the book. It never really pulled me in to the point that it made we feel like I had to know what was going to happen to the characters.
Feb 16, 2011 rated it liked it
A beautifully written book but it seemed like that's all it was, all style and very little substance. I enjoyed the words but found the story lacking something. By the end, I couldn't honestly tell if Eve had learned anything or changed for the better or worse at all. It just sort of finished and that was that.
Jan 09, 2011 rated it liked it
I won an advanced reader's copy of this book through Goodreads First Reads. I enjoyed the book, it was a little slow getting started. But as I read on I enjoyed it more. I'm glad I kept reading, turned out to be a pretty good book.
Mar 15, 2011 rated it liked it
I picked this book up a the public library and glad I did. I won't repeat what other's have positively said about this book as I agree with it all. I'll just say that it is a "good read" so don't hesitate about curling up with this good book.
Deranged Pegasus
Jan 07, 2011 rated it did not like it
Won through the Goodreads/First Reads and despite the synopsis provided I was not quite sure to expect.
What I found was a book that embodied its title; sweeping the reader along with its fast pace. The unseen current making the reader read more and more.
Michael Brown
A feast of description, image and visual cues, as you'd inevitably expect from an artist. Occasionally, the visual element gets in the way of the momentum, meaning that it often feels like reading nothing at all, but a very beautiful nothing for all of that.
Jan 09, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Wow, this book was absolutely breathtaking. I felt like I was in the paintings and walking the streets of London along side Evie! So amazing. :)

*won from goodreads
Jul 09, 2011 rated it really liked it
The style of this author took some getting used to. However, having done some art classes, I liked the setting. Thought it was a big vague on some things- goo read!
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