Family life can be a precarious thing and not everyone is cut out for it. When one woman disappears from her family, she removed herself bodily but left small reminders of herself where she was certain her husband would find them–tucked in his precious books. Swimming Lessons by Claire Fuller depicts the lives of the Coleman family.
Ingrid’s marriage to Gil had its ups and downs, which she outlines in the letters she writes to her husband. Before she leaves his life and that of her two daughters, Flora and Nan, she tucks the letters in between the pages of her husband’s books. Years later, Gil thinks that he’s seen his wife on from the window of the bookshop he frequents and after following her he suffers a fall from the cliff above the beach where his wife disappeared. His injury brings his youngest daughter Flora back home to see him, where she is unknowingly surrounded by the answers that plague her about the fate of her mother.
The story was well written and kept my attention throughout, even when I was frustrated with Gil’s ending as being terribly cliché. I’m not a huge fan of either lack of communication or miscommunication as a means to drive a story, and much of the relationship issues presented in this novel derived from just that, but at least it was consistent throughout. The narrative composed of the letters depicting the past, which was the start of Ingrid and Gil’s relationship, and the events currently taking place in Flora’s life as she visits her father. The story moves quickly and the characters are realistically developed.
Overall, I’d give it a 4 out of 5 stars.