Visible City; Tova MirvisHoughton, Mifflin Harcourt - 2014
Visible City was a joy to read. It reminded me of a few of quotes that have always resonated with me......
- “All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”
- If you look for perfection you'll never be content."
- "Rummaging in our souls, we often dig up something that ought to have lain there unnoticed."
The setting for Visible City is the upper West side of Manhattan, and for Nina a stay at home mother to two children under the age of three, her life isn’t what she imagined it might be. Once an attorney like her husband Jeremy, now while her husband works late nights, Nina has taken to entertaining herself by gazing at her neighbors in the building across the way with her son's toy binoculars. One night she sees a what appears to be a content couple sitting on the sofa reading, the next night it's the same routine. She imagines they are a happy couple who have settled nicely into middle age.
One day the couple seems to have disappeared and a 30-something woman takes their place in that same window. It appears she is in a heated argument with a man and then soon after is having sex with him. What happened to the other couple and who are these younger people? Days later the younger woman appears with a leg cast and Nina's curiosity grows.
As the story unfolds the lives of these individuals entwine. Leon, a therapist, his wife Claudia an art professor, Emma, their daughter, and other young moms in Nina's circle, who seem to have it all together on the outside, but are really conflicted in their own ways. Nina's husband Jeremy is also in turmoil.
The author does a wonderful job meshing the lives of these individuals and exposing both their little joys and in some cases bigger warts. It was a joy to read about the lives of these flawed characters.
In many ways this book reminded me a novel I read and loved in 2004, also set in Manhattan, called Between Two Rivers, by Nicholas Rinalidi. Read them both.