Invisible River

By Helena McEwen
(Bloomsbury USA, Paperback, 9781608192663, 320pp.)

Publication Date: February 1, 2011

Other Editions of This Title: Hardcover, Paperback

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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; and Cecile, the sidelined ballerina-and stumbles tentatively toward a relationship with Zeb, a second-year sculptor with hair blue-black like a crow.

But when her father arrives in the city, sour with alcohol and slumped on the doorstep of her new home, Evie must determine what she owes her past, and how it will shape the life, and the art, she's trying to create.

Gently and genuinely observed, written with painterly beauty, Invisible River is an unforgettable novel of the mysteries, desolations, and heart-soaring hopes of entering adulthood.

About the Author

Helena McEwen grew up in Scotland and studied painting at Chelsea and Camberwell schools of art in London. She is the author of two highly acclaimed previous novels, The Big House and Ghost Girl. Invisible River marks her U.S. debut. McEwen lives in Scotland.

Conversation Starters from


  1. Invisible River opens with Evie boarding a train to London and leaving her father behind. Why does she still “feel the pull of my father left alone,” even as the train speeds away from Cornwall? How does Evie’s arrival in London help break that pull, and how does Cornwall keep a hold on her feelings and imagination?

Praise For Invisible River

"[An] ethereal novel... McEwen makes good use of her own art training, portraying artists struggling to express their ideas, using vividly described colors that sometimes glow and glitter, in fiction that proves a visual feast." -Booklist

"[A] beautiful, tender novel... It's not surprising that Helena McEwen, who studied art in London, has a great eye for detail. I've seldom read descriptions of London as a beautiful city -- maybe Dickens put paid to that -- but in McEwen's hands it becomes wondrously so... It's a joy, in so cyncical a time, to find a book that celebrates unapologetic happiness." -Bookpage

"Told in a quiet voice full of artistry and color, this will appeal to fans of literary coming-of-age novels." - Library Journal

"Helena McEwen's coming-of-age tale is defiantly old-fashioned... Yet McEwen writes wich such conversational ease and displays such an artist's eye, that the novel rarely fails to charm. Who knew innocence could be so engaging?" -Financial Times

"Helena McEwen is an artist who brings a painter's eye to her fiction... In its unflinching juxtaposition of shadows and light, pain and happiness, Invisible River is a love story on several levels... Invisible River is about looking, seeing and understanding... an evocative reminder of how it feels to be young." -Guardian


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