Review: Swimming Lessons

Swimming Lessons
Swimming Lessons
Author: Claire Fuller
Publisher: House of Anansi
Genre/Themes: Contemporary, Mystery
Release Date: January 28th, 2017
Format: Trade Paperback
Swimming Lessons

 Synopsis

In this spine-tingling tale Ingrid Coleman writes letters to her husband, Gil, about the truth of their marriage, but she never sends them. Instead she hides them within the thousands of books her husband has collected. After she writes her final letter, Ingrid disappears.

Twelve years later, her adult daughter, Flora comes home to look after her injured father. Secretly, Flora has never believed her mother is dead, and she starts asking questions, without realizing that the answers she’s looking for are hidden in the books that surround her.

Review

This is a beautiful, heart wrenching, infuriating, and completely incredible novel. It’s hard for me to describe how much this book made me feel, but I loved every moment of it. I knew that I’d enjoy this novel because the premise of this book is exactly what I like to read. Not only is it a book about books, it’s a contemporary novel with a missing woman that had secrets that led to her disappearance. I knew I’d be swept up in the mystery, but I wasn’t expecting to feel so many emotions along the way.

This is one of those rare novels that is both about the plot and the characters, and both are developed beautifully. This book alternates between chapters in the present and the letters that Ingrid wrote to her husband and hid, relaying the story of their marriage.  The plot is one I’ve read before, but there was such subtle hints that I still didn’t see it coming., and even after I learned the truth, I still didn’t know what sort of impact it would make for all the characters.

However, the true beauty of this novel is due to the characters and their stories. Even though Ingrid is missing, she was such an integral part of the novel and we learned so much about her and her husband, Gil, through her letters. I was furious with Gil throughout the majority of the novel, and I despised him by the end of it. Even though in the present timeline, he’s a different and broken man, I still didn’t feel any sympathy toward him. I’ve never hated a character so much in a very long time, and I think it’s a mark of a talented writer to elicit such emotions toward a fictional person.

I loved Ingrid so much, and I felt so terribly for the life she was forced to live, and I felt a lot of sympathy for her daughters, Flora and Nan as well. I felt such a deep connection to all of them even though my life doesn’t mirror theirs in any way.

This is a quiet novel, but it’s devastating all the same. It’s beautifully written – descriptive, atmospheric, and completely refreshing. I’m a huge fan of Claire Fuller, and I will be reading all her future novels.

I received this book through the Goodreads Firstreads program. This has affected my review in no way.

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