Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Swimming Lessons by Claire Fuller

Reviewer: Gillian Hamer, author of The Charter, Closure, Complicit, Crimson Shore & False Lights (www.gillianhamer.com)

What we thought: Hands up to being a huge fan of this talented author after adoring her debut novel last year, Our Endless Numbered Days. The follow up novel, Swimming Lessons, is equally engaging, both in the interesting premise and the captivating characters.
One of the best openings hooks I’ve read in a while. Gil Coleman sees his dead wife, alive and well, it seems, and follows her until she disappears for a second time. But while the reader is still trying to work out what we are dealing with – unreliable narrator, confused character – we are taken back in time through the assortment of letters left behind by his wife before she went missing decades earlier. Is the real truth behind the assumed suicide hidden within these letters?
As both plots begin to unwind, past and present, the reader cannot help but be engaged by not only Gil, but also his two daughters, Flora and Nan, whose lives have been hugely affected by the absence of their mother. 
Part of the premise of the story is Gil’s fascination with secrets hidden inside books, not hidden meanings within the text, but real life secrets – words scrawled in the margins, perhaps, or hidden notes folded carefully within the pages. It’s this obsession that leads him to learn the truth about his wife’s disappearance, and the denouement to his guilt leads to a dramatic conclusion.
I loved these characters, damaged and layered, and yet fragile and vulnerable, there something there to engage everyone. And as someone who believes location is a vital ingredient in the recipe of a top quality novel, I loved the landscape created here. A house on the edge of a beach, amid sand dunes and wild open seas, it was just the perfect setting for me.
This novel will be released in January 2017 and I have absolutely no doubt it will replicate the success of Fuller’s debut novel.
Highly recommended!
You’ll enjoy this if you like: Jojo Moyes, Amanda Hodgkinson, Jennifer Egan.
Avoid if you don’t like: Complex lives and infidelity.
Ideal accompaniments: Scones with cream and jam served with Earl Grey tea.
Genre: Contemporary Fiction.

Available on Amazon

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