“Writing does not exist unless there is someone to read it, and each reader will take something different from a novel, from a chapter, from a line.”
“Ingrid Coleman writes letters to her husband, Gil, about the truth of their marriage, but instead of giving them to him, she hides them 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 later, 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. Scandalous and whip-smart, Swimming Lessons holds the Coleman family up to the light, exposing the mysterious truths of a passionate and troubled marriage.”
Past and present merge seamlessly in alternating chapters that tell a well-crafted story of a passionate yet tragic marriage. At times the pace was riveting and at others as slow and exhausting as a long hard swim against the tide. I do so love epistolary novels (books written in the form of letters) because it makes the reading seem so personal. There are interesting themes in this novel, but not everyone will like it.
I’d love to say more, both positive and negative, but that would involve spoilers. I am looking forward to the book club meeting where I can discuss it with others. There is hidden depth to this novel that is haunting, like something hiding right beneath the surface of the water that can’t quite be seen but is definitely there! Of course there are so many things in life we will never know, especially about the lives of our parents and grandparents. Sometimes it’s nice when the author doesn’t spell everything out and the reader is allowed their own interpretation, but it can be frustrating as well. It’s definitely a novel to ponder and think about, in fact I keep thinking about it, and that says something.