Review – Swimming Lessons

Title:  Swimming LessonsSwimming Lessons

Author :  Claire Fuller

Pages: 350

Genres: Literary Fiction, Contemporary, Mystery

Publication Date: 7th Feb 2017

My Rating: ★★★☆☆


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. When Ingrid has written her final letter she disappears from a Dorset beach, leaving behind her beautiful but dilapidated house by the sea, her husband, and her two daughters, Flora and Nan.

Twelve years later, Gil thinks he sees Ingrid from a bookshop window, but he’s getting older and this unlikely sighting is chalked up to senility. Flora, who has never believed her mother drowned, returns home to care for her father and to try to finally discover what happened to Ingrid. But what Flora doesn’t realize is that the answers to her questions are hidden in the books that surround her.


The tale works on two timelines, the present told by a third person narrator and the past told in letter form by the woman who disappeared.   It starts off as a love story but I felt it developed into something much darker becoming a cautionary tale against marrying an older men, too young .   The letters that she wrote during the latter part of their marriage are secreted inside the pages of her husbands immense book collection.

It is also an exploration of how difficult it is to live with a writer, and Gil is an obsessive writer in the same way that Jack Torrence from The Shining (Stephen King) is, but with less dramatic results.

The only character that I could in any way relate too in this book is the younger daughter Flora.  This may be because all of Gil’s past that we are told is through the eyes of his very unhappy wife, and although she loved him, it was in a fairly childlike way, and certainly not really as two adults.   The character of Ingrid annoyed me a little because she was such a total doormat and utterly passive but that probably says more about me than about the book, and such people do exist and I do feel like slapping them in the same way as I feel like slapping her.


Another thing that annoyed me about this book is that it does not really even live up to its blurb.  Flora, although she doesn’t believe that her mother is dead does not take any action to investigate in any way and seems rather passive.

I found this review quite difficult to write, I did enjoy this book whilst I was reading it but afterwards I was left feeling dissatisfied and that some aspects just didn’t make any sense or I could not believe they are mainly centered around  how the end 50 pages play out.  I am not sure how to discuss them without making huge spoilers, but I guess as I wasn’t’ the only one and there is a fab discussion over at the book of the month site that if you have read it and you are interested check it out, if you haven’t, HUGE spoiler alert.


Certainly not one of the best books I have read this year, the quality of the prose is high but the plot has a few big holes that still bug me.

Buy this book on Wordery




Claire Fuller has taken a circuitous route towards being an author.  She trained as a sculptor before working in marketing for many years and finally starting writing age 40.  She has a masters in critical and creative writing and this is her second novel.  Her first being Our Endless Numbered Days.  She lives in Winchester with her husband and has two grown up children, where did she find the time?  She tweets @ClaireFuller2



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