Swimming Lessons, by Claire Fuller

Claire Fuller's first novel, Our Endless Numbered Days, blew me out of the water. The way she built that world was so careful, so delicate, so sinister. The setting of Swimming Lessons is more recognizable, mundane even, but it's its own kind of creepy. Ingrid is a student in 1970s London. In the letters she writes to her absent husband, we learn of their courtship, such as it was. Gil was her university lecturer, twenty years her senior, and her pregnancy with their first child prompted their marriage and Ingrid's departure from school. In their seaside home, Ingrid is a captive of circumstances and youth. Gil is a writer and womanizer, and she is trapped in their marriage and her unexpected motherhood.

The alternate chapters are present day, following their two daughters, Nan (responsible caretaker) and Flora (flighty artist) as they care for Gil after he takes a tumble. Ingrid disappeared eleven years ago, when Flora was ten and Nan fifteen, presumed drowned despite being a strong swimmer. It's a sad story, told beautifully in chapters that unfold like origami flowers. I didn't love it as much as Our Endless Numbered Days, but don't have any less respect for Fuller's obvious talent, and will continue to devour her books as she writes them.

Fuck Amazon!


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