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Review by Suze
When she learns her father is ill Flora travels back home together with her boyfriend. Gil thinks he's seen his wife Ingrid, Flora's mother. She disappeared, presumably drowned, and has been missing for over a decade. She left Flora and her older sister Nan behind. The possible sighting gives them hope. Gill is an old man and needs care. All over the house there are letters written by Ingrid hidden in books. Maybe these will shed some light on what happened to her?
Swimming Lessons is a beautiful family story. Claire Fuller alternates between the past, through Ingrid's letters, and the present, told from Flora's point of view. This construction works very well and I found myself engrossed in both parts of the story. Gil used to be Ingrid's professor. They fell in love and got married. There were happy times, but Ingrid's life was mostly filled with sadness. My heart ached for her and I sometimes had tears in my eyes while reading her letters. Flora is a little bit lost, but returning to her childhood home makes her find something unexpected and possibly amazing. Swimming lessons is a bittersweet story. There are tragic moments, but there's hope as well. I love it when a book makes me go through many different emotions and Claire Fuller has definitely achieved that with her story.
I'm a big fan of stories about sisters and the relationship between Flora and Nan is an interesting one, which made the book even more special for me. The connections of the main characters are difficult and they kept fascinating me from beginning to end. They have a certain attraction that spellbound me. I couldn't stop reading about them and wanted to know everything I could know, everything I was allowed to find out. That's something about Swimming Lessons I greatly admired.
Swimming Lessons is a unique story. It's about love, loss, heartache, determination, family and friendship. Claire Fuller's writing is terrific, I immediately fell in love with her easy flowing writing style and the gorgeous words she chooses. There are many questions and those intrigued me. Claire Fuller skillfully administers small doses of answers in each chapter. Everything about this book is almost perfect, but not quite and that is what I loved most about the story. I highly recommend Swimming Lessons, it's not just a story, it's an experience, which is surprising and unique.
Swimming Lessons is perfect for readers who love beautiful complex family stories.