Originally published: Feb 2017
Author: Claire Fuller
Set in: Dorset
Page count: 294
Reading dates: 27-29 January 2018
Swimming Lessons was sent to me as a gift from Penguin books as part of an Instagram book tour. I have wanted to read this, as I enjoyed Our Endless Numbered Days very much so was thrilled to be asked to be part of it.
Swimming Lessons alternates between the present day and the past (told in the form of letters).
The story starts with an elderly Gill seeing his wife Ingrid out of the window of a bookshop – the strange thing about this is that Ingrid disappeared 12 years ago from the beach and is presumed dead. He takes a tumble and his daughters Nan and Flora are called home to care for him, as we find he is dying.
From Flora’s viewpoint we learn about their lives as they are now (the effects of losing their mother and the reality of caring for their sick father) and in alternating chapters we read letters, left by Ingrid for Gil in the pages of his huge book collection for him to find. They detail the life she is living as she is writing them (Gil is absent and unfaithful; she feels to be an inadequate mother) and their past lives – from when they meet when she is his student at University, to her pregnancies, their life with no money, his affairs, and him publishing a controversial novel.) Her life is lonely and she has no confidence in her ability of a mother.
I was really drawn into this – there is something captivating about Fuller’s writing and the letters are heart-breaking. I loved the thought of Ingrid hiding her thoughts as her letters in the pages of his beloved books. The descriptions of the pavilion where they live are beautiful and the I am envious of their beach side location. There are lots of mentions of the family’s relationship with the beach and sea which sees Ingrid swimming often in the early hours of the morning when she can’t sleep. Overall, this is probably a 4.5 star read for me and I would highly recommend.