Swimming lessons

Claire Fuller

Book - 2017

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. Then she disappears from a Dorset beach, leaving behind her husband, and her two daughters, Flora and Nan. Twelve years later, Gil thinks he sees Ingrid from a bookshop window. Flora, who has never believed her mother drowned, returns home to care for her father. She tries to discover what happened to Ingrid, not realizing that the answers are hidden in the books that surround her.--

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FICTION/Fuller Claire
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1st Floor FICTION/Fuller Claire Due Aug 1, 2024
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Review by New York Times Review

HOW TO SEE: Looking, Talking, and Thinking About Art, by David Salle. (Norton, $16.95.) The painter, who was catapulted to fame in the 1980s, offers up a guide to appreciating contemporary art. In an engaging series of essays, he profiles artists including Jeff Koons and Alex Katz, and his mentor John Baldessari. Along the way, Salle sprinkles thoughts about art school, criticism and history. SWIMMING LESSONS, by Claire Fuller. (Tin House, $15.95.) Ingrid begins writing letters to her husband about their marriage, hiding them in the thousands of books he has collected. Then, she flees - leaving him along with their two children and a seaside home in Dorset. Years later, Ingrid's daughter discovers the letters while caring for her aging father, prompting her to examine the circumstances of her mother's disappearance anew. WONDERLAND: How Play Made the Modern World, by Steven Johnson. (Riverhead, $20.) In this rollicking study, Johnson - using an elastic definition of "play," which includes beauty, spectacles and mere novelty - makes a case for entertainment's role in history. As he suggests, if you're curious about where the future is headed, just look to where people are having the most fun. THE SCHOOLDAYS OF JESUS, by J. M. Coetzee. (Penguin, $16.) In the second volume of Coetzee's allegorical fable, which began with his 2013 novel "The Childhood of Jesus," David and Simón forge new lives in a country where immigrants' memories have been washed away. David, a gifted but difficult child, doubts his new circumstances; his persistent questioning of Simón forms the grist of a philosophical dialogue tinged with intimacy. "The result is rich, dense, often amusing and, above all, full of inner tension and suspense," Jack Miles said here. LONDON FOG: The Biography, by Christine L. Corton. (Harvard, $18.95.) Asocial history of the city's storied pollution uncovers how business interests often won out over health concerns. While the fog was killing Londoners, it also inspired, and rankled, artists and writers, becoming a romanticized feature of the city. Corton's account investigates its lasting cultural impact. LOLA, by Melissa Scrivner Love. (Broadway, $16.) In South Central Los Angeles, the Crenshaw Six have joined the city's drug wars, with one of its members' girlfriends running the operation. Lola, tough and resilient, watches violence play out on the streets of her childhood as she navigates ever-higher stakes. Our reviewer, Charles Finch, praised this debut thriller, calling it "as fast, flexible and poised as a chef's knife."

Copyright (c) The New York Times Company [January 21, 2018]
Review by Booklist Review

*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.--Ophoff, Cortney Copyright 2016 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

"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 PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by Library Journal Review

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 Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.