Swimming Lessons is a novel about a young love that blossoms between a budding feminist and her literary professor/writer, set in England. They fall in love and an unplanned pregnancy brings a tumultuous and emotional time for Ingrid. She’s unable to finish school, struggling to accept her new daughter, and finds out that her husband is the man she was warned about. After several miscarriages, and many more mistresses, Ingrid finds herself on the verge of leaving the life she has come to hate. What actually happened to her is speculation, but Flora never gave up hope that her mom was still alive. Written from Flora’s point of view as well as from Ingrid’s point of view in the letters that she leaves for Gil in his expansive book collection, you are left to piece together the story and speculate about what really happened.
This book is artfully written. I am a sucker for books about book stores or writers or books themselves, which this book is about all three of those things. But it also shows us the complicated webs that love weaves, between husband and wife, mother and daughter, life and loss, betrayal and trust. The narrative is quite creative in that as soon as you find yourself hooked on Flora’s point of view, the chapter ends and Ingrid’s lost letters enlighten the reader.
It was quite interesting to watch Flora grow up and to watch Ingrid disappear. Claire Fuller did an excellent job in revealing just the right amount of information to keep us turning the pages. It’s a medium length book, but a fast read and would make a great book club book.