Swimming lessons

Claire Fuller

Book - 2017

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FICTION/Fuller Claire
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Location Call Number   Status
1st Floor FICTION/Fuller Claire Due Jul 10, 2022
Mystery fiction
Portland, Oregon : Tin House Books [2017]
First U.S. edition
Physical Description
350 pages ; 23 cm
Main Author
Claire Fuller (author)
Review by Booklist Reviews

*Starred Review* For years Gil Coleman has been finding notes written by his late wife and tucked into books long ago, but to suddenly see her walking down the street is a shock. After he falls and is injured while trying to catch her, his two daughters return home to see him through his convalescence. But the girls bicker over everything from how to care for their aging father to the truth about their childhood. For Nan, the eldest, that time was fraught with a painful awareness of her father's philandering, while Flora's memories are more blissfully, or selfishly, unaware. And because she refuses to accept that their mother is truly dead, Flora clings to her father's alleged sighting with renewed hope. As days pass, though, it becomes clear that there is more to the story, and Flora is forced to relinquish her naïveté and finally grow up. As she did in her first novel, Our Endless Numbered Days (2015), Fuller proves to be a master of temporal space, taking readers through flashbacks and epistolary chapters at a pace timed to create wonder and suspense. It's her beautiful prose, though, that rounds this one out, as she delves deeply to examine the legacies of a flawed but passionate marriage. Copyright 2016 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

Fuller, who bounded out of the gate with the Desmond Elliott Prize-winning Our Endless Numbered Days, here limns the mystery of a wife, vanished and presumably drowned, who left clues to what really happened in profoundly emotional letters she's tucked into some of her husband's many, many books.. Copyright 2016 Library Journal.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

Did Ingrid Coleman drown or just disappear during the summer of 1992? Fuller's richly layered second novel (after Our Endless Numbered Days) raises these questions and more. In 1976, Ingrid makes plans after college graduation, but before finishing her studies, she falls in love with her literature professor Gil Coleman. They marry after Ingrid gets pregnant, Gil is dismissed to avoid scandal, and they move to a building on the grounds of his once luxurious family property. Gil retreats to a separate cottage to write, shutting out Ingrid and daughters Flora and Nan. During June 1992, Ingrid writes her recollections of their past in daily letters to Gil. She then inserts them in appropriately titled books among his vast collection. After writing her last letter, she vanishes. Eleven years later, Flora and Nan return to the family home after Gil, while following an apparition of his wife, takes a tumble down a cliff. Gil is also suffering from pancreatic cancer and his final wish is to burn all his books, hundreds of them. Secrets from the past unfold as Flora and Nan deal with their dying father and their mother's mysterious disappearance. VERDICT Saving the best for last with revelations and surprises, Fuller's well-crafted, intricate tale captures the strengths and shortcomings of ordinary people to show how healing is possible by confronting the darkest places. [See Prepub Alert, 8/8/16.]—Donna Bettencourt, Mesa Cty. P.L., Grand Junction, CO. Copyright 2016 Library Journal.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

"Gil Coleman looked down from the first-floor window of the bookshop and saw his dead wife standing on the pavement below." This provocative sentence opens Fuller's (Our Endless Numbered Days) second novel, and an intriguing epilogue ends it; in between is the story of a woman's failed marriage. When Ingrid Coleman disappeared from a Dorset beach, her years of swimming alone in the sea are presumed to have caught up with her, but her body is never found. Neither are her letters to Gil recounting their years together, tucked within the pages of books in his library, until that fateful day in the bookstore when he spies one while searching for the notes and marginalia that so fascinated him as an author. The novel unfolds in dual timelines. Ingrid's one-way correspondence effectively and uncomfortably reveals her unraveling within an unhappy marriage to a selfish man unsuited for fidelity and fatherhood. A present-day story line provides younger daughter Flora's sometimes less-well-delineated point of view; she returns home to join her sister, Nan, in caring for Gil after he injures himself chasing after Ingrid. Fuller successfully creates two discomfiting narratives, a strong backdrop for the story's essential mystery. (Feb.) Copyright 2016 Publisher Weekly.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

Returning home to care for her aging father twelve years after her mother's disappearance, Flora discovers that before she went missing, her mother wrote letters to her father about their marriage and hid them among his thousands of books.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

Returning home to care for her aging father 12 years after her mother's disappearance, Flora discovers that before she went missing, her mother wrote letters to her father about their marriage and hid them among his thousands of books. By the award-winning author of Our Endless Numbered Days.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

OprahOur Endless Numbered Days