Swimming Home

A Novel

Levy, Deborah

(Book - 2012)
Average Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5.
Swimming Home
As he arrives with his family at the villa in the hills above Nice, Joe sees a body in the swimming pool. But the girl is very much alive. She is Kitty Finch: a self-proclaimed botanist with green-painted fingernails, walking naked out of the water and into the heart of their holiday. Why is she there? What does she want from them all? And why does Joe's enigmatic wife allow her to remain? A subversively brilliant study of love, Swimming Home reveals how the most devastating secrets are the ones we keep from ourselves.
Publisher: New York : Bloomsbury, 2012.
Edition: 1st U.S. ed.
ISBN: 9781620401699
Characteristics: viii, 157 p. ;,21 cm.


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Jan 08, 2014
  • madison382 rated this: 3.5 stars out of 5.

One of the most disturbing books I have read in a long time.

Dec 20, 2013
  • uncommonreader rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

This is a seemingly conventional story of two middle-class couples on holiday in southern France which one expects to unfold in the usual way. However, the presence of a stranger who is obsessive and unstable changes everything and causes the characters to come undone. This is a novel about depression and creativity, about control and about the power of the past. The novel has its own rhythm and is disturbing. A worthy Booker nominee.

Mar 03, 2013
  • ksoles rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

A stranger destroying an already-crumbling marriage hardly seems like a unique plot formula. However, as soon as the beautiful, deranged Kitty Finch shows up at an English family's villa in Nice, Deborah Levy's storytelling becomes allusive, elliptical and disturbing. Her novel not only explores relationships; it also probes into the nature of childhood trauma, exile, depression and creativity.

"Swimming Home" uses spare but fresh prose to tell a tale from multiple viewpoints and several generations. At its centre sits poet Joe Jacobs, whose history as a Jewish child in the Polish woods haunts him. Together, Joe's teenaged daughter, Nina, and 80-year-old doctor Madeleine offer an authentic range of female experience while his seemingly victimized wife, Isabel, constantly upends readers' expectations.

This shocking novel harrowingly explores loss and longing, ending with the adult Nina's terrifying understanding that she can never know when the past begins and ends.

Although a small book, the story is very disturbing. A somewhat confusion conclusion as well. I choose this book because it was a finalist in the Man Booker Award books, it was a disturbing book on many levels. Not one of my favourites reads.

Spoiler Alert! I read this because it was short-listed for the Man Booker Prize and was surprised at how weak it was. Characters don't make sense, the writing is juvenile and the ridiculous story trajectory provoked in me a suspicion that Levy started this novel with a specific man in mind who she would like to see floating in a swimming pool. The spoiler here is not the dumb ending but that the book is not worth reading.

Dec 09, 2012
  • macierules rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

Great writing - it took me almost 3/4 of the way through the book before I cared about any of the characters, but once there I was fully engaged. Booker Shortlisted 2012

Dec 07, 2012
  • paulbifford rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

Amazingly concise and direct. I enjoyed it much more than Bring Up The Bodies, which won the Man Booker.

Nov 15, 2012
  • BiblioK rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

I've just read the last page, and I am completely and utterly blown away by "Swimming Home." Rarely does a book hit squarely in the middle of me. Deborah Levy plunges readers into this contained and controlled world that feels crystalline and surreal. Swimming in this dream world that is littered with sharp edges, and a steady, off-kilter, pulsing rhythm, there is a compulsion to follow the beats that propel you to its tragic end.


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Jun 17, 2013
  • jukisoo rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

Life is only worth living because we hope it will get better and we'll all get home safely.


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