Ingrid Coleman writes letters to her husband, Gil, about the truth of their marriage, but instead of giving them to him, she hides each in the thousands of books he has collected over the years. When Ingrid has written her final letter, she disappears from a Dorset beach, leaving behind her beautiful but dilapidated house by the sea, her husband, and her two daughters, Flora and Nan.
Twelve years after her disappearance, Gil thinks he sees Ingrid from a bookshop window, but he's getting older, and this unlikely sighting is chalked up to senility. Flora, who has never believed her mother drowned, returns home to care for her father and to try to finally discover what happened to Ingrid. But what Flora doesn't realize is that the answers to her questions are hidden in the books that surround her. Sexy and whip-smart, Swimming Lessons holds the Coleman family up to the light, exposing the mysterious and complicated truths of a passionate and troubled marriage.
©2017 Claire Fuller (P)2016 Audible, Ltd
Writer and audiobook reviewer.
Claire Fuller's slightly mystical, beautifully written first novel was Our Endless Numbered Days which I highly recommended on my Audible review page on 27/7/2015. Her second novel Swimming Lessons fulfils all the promise of her first - I loved it.
The structure is carefully contrived but is seamless to read or listen to as we're taken backwards and forwards in time. Ingrid is a university student who falls for her slightly predatory far older tutor Gil Coleman and when she finds she's pregnant, they marry. Ingrid is not allowed to take her Finals and Gil loses his job and becomes a full time writer, although in fact he spends more time philandering and very little writing anything beyond one successful (and ultimately destructive) book. Ingrid struggles with children and miscarriages, the pain of which is exquisitely described. She has always been happiest in the water, and one day she leaves her clothes on the beach and disappears.
The other layer of the story is Gil as a broken old man, irascible and selfish in his house stacked with thousands of books, with his two very different grown-up daughters Flora and Nan around him. Their memories of their missing mother and their present day lives haunted by her disappearance form a strand of the narrative, but the core is made up of the letters which Ingrid wrote to Gil as her passionate marriage fell apart and which she doesn't give to him, but slips inside random books on his overflowing shelves.
Like her previous novel, there is a light touch of fairy tale which transports the listener, but at the same time it's firmly rooted in real life and the idiosyncrasies, complexities, pain and pleasures of relationships. The rhythm of the story is like the sea which is so important to the whole story, ebbing, flowing, constantly moving. The themes of betrayal, regret, guilt, loss, absence, isolation are all worked through with a gentle delicacy, the language always imaginative and fresh. There are some mysteries which are never solved, and some solutions are dispersed through the story like beads on a necklace. The narrator Rachel Atkins does a great job and adds another dimension to the novel - the dialogue is particularly skilfully presented.
Don't miss this one, and look out for Claire Fuller's third one!
The blurb for this sounded really good and it was a recommended book by you . Have got as far as chapter 5 l just can't bring myself to read any more. Very trivial and silly story
Nothing wrong with the narration, however, there was no story at all. It just limped along at a tedious pace. I wanted to throttle youngest daughter who winged her way through the story. Awful.
Retired counsellor - avid reader - new to audio books
This is one of those books you either love or hate. I loved it! All the characters are flawed but are more believable for that. I'll be looking for more titles by Claire Fuller.
This book was read brilliantly. The reader captured the characters well.
The story was good too, though the topic took me a while to get into. The author keeps you hanging right until the end.
What a book! Couldn't put it down and out of my mind. Loved every minute of it. And beautifully read.
There was no plot, no proper ending, a waste of a precious credit, all through the book I was waiting for something to happen but sadly nothing did, save your credit.
The narration was good pity Rachel didn't have anything good to narrate.
Pt, fitness instructor, pole fitness instructor, book and audiobook addict.
Love the way this was written, following Ingrids letter trail, and Gil's too late realisation
"I was addicted to listening to this story!!"
A must listen for every woman!! A tale of "what not to do". Loved the story and the narrator's many voices!
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