Swimming Lessons, Claire Fuller

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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.

Swimming Lessons is such a beautiful, wonderful, heartbreaking book! I am in love with this beautifully written novel and it’s an incredible, mesmerizing story. I am actually struggling to even write this review because I am astounded by its beauty! Here is a little bit more about this incredible novel.

The story resolves around Ingrid’s account of her marriage to her husband and famous writer, Gil. She writes a series of letters and places them in corresponding books from her husband’s sprawling library which she hopes he will find at some point in the future. However, shortly after she writes her final letter she disappears leaving behind her two daughters and of course, many unanswered questions. The novel then alternates between present day and 1970’s London. At the heart of this story is the mystery of Ingrid’s disappearance. This story is told in dual perspectives and dual timelines. Flora, who is Ingrid’s daughter never believed her mother died, she was only 10 when she disappeared. Soon Flora gets a call from her older sister Nan that their father had an accident but he is saying that he saw Ingrid. Nan just thinks that her father is senile however Flora believes that her father did see their mother and is now on a mission to get to the truth of her mother’s disappearance once and for all.

This is our main and most prominent perspective, however, let me tell you more about our other timeline! Our other timeline and perspective are told in the form of letters written by Ingrid; the letters she has written to her husband Gil. These letters are poetically beautiful but also heartrendingly sad. In these letters, she expresses her deepest darkest thoughts about her unhappy marriage, about the mishaps, their decline, her husband’s selfishness.. his lack of responsibility as a father and a husband and lastly his infidelity. Now let me tell you what I thought about this wonderful book!

Swimming Lessons is a beautiful, quiet and poetic novel, but also an eerie, compelling one. It is unlike anything I have read before and simply beautifully beautiful. Fuller’s writing and prose capture your heart from the very first page and compels you to read until there is nothing more to read. Her writing is dense and multi-layered and made me fall completely in love with this unconventional family. Her writing was so personal that through their internal struggles and pain I felt as if I was right beside them and feeling all of her feelings. To say her writing is emotive is an understatement and I am just in awe of this woman’s wonderful writing.

My two favorite aspects of this novel besides the beautiful writing were the characters and Ingrid’s letters. Growing up I have always adored letters and the lost art of letter writing. So much so that at the beginning of my relationship with my husband I made us write each other letters as he was in America and I was in Britain! My point is that I adore it so the fact that 50% of this novel is full of beautifully written letters made me a happy woman. This now brings me to the characters. Our main character Ingrid is perfect in my opinion; to read her letters and to know those deepest darkest thoughts of hers was simply incredible…how her letters unraveled a mystery and told the story of her life was magical to read and I can honestly say that I felt all of her feelings as she wrote those letters, they were just so stunningly beautiful. The rest of the family are also wonderful, I loved learning about them and their life’s and their thoughts too. This novel focuses on a family which could be any family we see today. It also focuses on some important themes such as these mysteries of people disappearing and how it affects your family so this is all really wonderful and very important. I just love this novel so much and hope all of you lovely readers get a chance to read it!

To summarise I would implore all of you lovely readers to read Swimming Lessons. It is a beautiful novel that demands to be read and demands to be felt. No amount of words I write here can do it justice so please, pick it up for yourself and fall in love! Swimming Lessons, of course, gets Five Stars from me!

As always thank you so much for reading! Please do comment below what you think of this novel or whether you have already read it; I would love to know all of your thoughts! Let me know also whether you have read much literary fiction and mysteries. Thank you so much again for reading!

Goodbye for now book lovers,

P.S. Here is a preview of the book for all of you lovely readers to enjoy! If you have loved what you have read and want to buy the wonderful novel then you can click the buy on Amazon button and it will take you straight to Amazon U.K.! If you are international then click the Book Depository link underneath it! Thank you so much again for reading!

Book Depository

Publisher; Penguin – Fig Tree


242 thoughts on “Swimming Lessons, Claire Fuller

      1. I’m dying to read it now. I’m not sure there are so many literary mystery type books about which is why I love them. Clever but beautifully written too 💕 I can think of Gentlemen and Players by Joanne Harris (brilliant!) and Notes on a Scandal by Zoe Heller. Need to have a think about this a bit more… do you have any more recommendations?

        Liked by 1 person

      1. Absolutely! I’m a bit snobby about them and they have to be read by a professional or an actor for me to listen! If the narrate is no good then it’s too annoying.

        Liked by 1 person

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