Friday, 13 January 2017

Swimming Lessons by Claire Fuller

Book Review

"Fiction is about readers. Without readers there is no point in books, and therefore they are as important as the author, perhaps more important."

Swimming Lessons will be released on January 26th. It is written by Claire Fuller and published by Fig Tree.

Claire Fuller's first book, Our Endless Numbered Days won various awards and garnered rave reviews. However, I can't compare it to Swimming Lessons as I haven't actually read it yet. Having jumped in with her second book though, I now want to go back and read her first, as Swimming Lessons is beautiful; slow and quiet yet dense with frustrated emotions.


"Gil Coleman looked down from the window and saw his dead wife standing on the pavement below."

Gil's wife, Ingrid has been missing, presumed drowned, for twelve years.
A possible sighting brings their children, Nan and Flora, home. Together they begin to confront the mystery of their mother. Is Ingrid dead? Or did she leave? And do the letters hidden within Gil's books hold the answers to the truth behind his marriage, a truth hidden from everyone including his own children?

I loved the structure of Swimming Lessons, with Ingrid's letters describing her relationship with Gil interspersing the present day where Flora and Nan are dealing with their elderly father. It allows you to slowly put everything together. Swimming Lessons is definitely one of those books that you have to go back and read again to see all the references you missed.

Leaving the letters in the books was a fun concept though possibly a little unrealistic. But I suppose if Ingrid had just shoved the letters into Gil's hands there would be no book. (If I was her I might have shoved them somewhere else.)

The writing is wonderful; it's infused with feelings and passions though these are bubbling under the surface and often avoided by the characters.

There are also small touches throughout the novel which made me smile, like the frequent references to Shirley Jackson, one of my favourite authors, and Flora describing smells as colours.

"The smell of drawing was cream, a clotted and buttery yellow."

The characters themselves are flawed but relatable and invoke strong feelings. Gil infuriated yet confused me, I felt empathy and a little frustration for Ingrid and wanted to hug Flora yet give her a well deserved kick at the same time.

My only issue with the book is that I wish Fuller had explored the character of Nan a bit more, she's the only one that doesn't feel quite so real and is a bit too much of a cliche; the older child taking on the responsibilities of the family. She feels like a foil to Flora instead of a full character in her own right.

Swimming Lessons is a book that, though slow in places, still poses a lot of questions for the reader, about how different life could have been or what they would do in the situation.

I now can't wait to read Claire Fuller's first book.

My Rating: 4/5

I received an ARC of the book via NetGalley in return for an honest review. My thanks to the author and publisher.

Follow Me On Bloglovin

No comments:

Post a Comment