Two women and a friendship that will change everything. Vividly rendered and sweeping in scope, Under the Visible Life is a stunning meditation on how hope can remain alive in the darkest of times, if we have someone to share our burdens with.
Katherine Goodnow, half Canadian and half Chinese, struggles through a 1950's childhood hostile to all she represents. She breaks free as a teenager, embracing love and adventure, but soon faces the challenges of unexpected motherhood and an unreliable husband.
Mahsa Weaver, half American and half Afghani, is only twelve when, after the death of her parents, she is sent to live with strict relatives in Karachi. Struggling to break free, she escapes to Montreal, but the threads of her past are not so easily severed, and she finds herself forced into an arranged marriage.
When Katherine and Mahsa meet in New York, they give each other the strength to fight for their freedom, and forge a bond of friendship that will last a lifetime.
Echlin s 2009 novel The Disappeared was shortlisted for Canada s prestigious Scotiabank Giller Prize, and her talent is on full display in this lyrical, exciting story of two women and their lifelong relationships with music and with each other. Mahsa Weaver-Najibullah was born in Pakistan to an American father and an Afghan mother. Katherine Goodknow is the product of her Canadian mother s affair with a Chinese migrant worker. Echlin paints difficult early lives for both girls in the 1940s Mahsa s parents are murdered, and Katherine s mother is put in a reformatory for immorality but both girls find solace in the piano, teaching themselves to play as children. Their worlds get closer when Mahsa is sent to Canada to attend university, and these two characters who share so much finally cross paths at a jazz club in New York City. Echlin discusses the sacrifices required from women, and the strength these particular women draw from music. Over and over, Mahsa and Katherine are saved by music, find love through music, and through music "feel the unfurling beauty of the world." Echlin s excellent novel introduces two complex women who sometimes succeed and sometimes suffer, and whose stories are moving from start to finish.