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. Scandalous and whip-smart, Swimming Lessons holds the Coleman family up to the light, exposing the mysterious truths of a passionate and troubled marriage.
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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 and passionate marriage.--Booklist, Starred Review
Claire Fuller's acrobatic new novel, about a family who has failed each other, inverts our expectations of narrative time to an astonishing effect: our experience of grasping for truth about those who have left is just as pained and urgent as her characters'. Fuller's sentences are condensed maps of the human process, unfolding in patterns we immediately recognize.--Kathleen Alcott, author of INFINITE HOME
Eloquent, harrowing, raw . . . sure to keep readers inching off their seats.--Kirkus
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.--Library Journal, Starred Review
This would be a perfect book club pick, as it's a short novel that says a lot, and there's plenty to unpack.--Book Riot
Fuller has written a profound portrait of marriage, motherhood, and loss. It is a beautiful, devastating book.--Powell's Pick of the Month
Playing out the various scenarios is almost like a "choose your own adventure" story for adults. For me, Ingrid's story, voice, and perspective, makes for a haunting, motivating, and fantastic read.--Steph Opitz, Book of the Month Club Selection
Swimming Lessons continues Claire Fuller's mastery of beautiful language and heartbreaking imagery, which lays bare the stories of infidelities, lies, revivals of love and then demise of those loves. The women of this novel fight for their very souls, and their stories unfurl like flags of independence appearing in to wave from her landscape of great books and art and hope.--Susan Straight, author of BETWEEN HEAVEN AND HERE
Swimming Lessonsis so smoothly, beautifully written, and the human failures here are heartbreaking.--David Vann, author of AQUARIUM
Swimming Lessons hovers in the electric space between secrets and connection, between the desire to love and urge to hide. This is a biting, soaring novel.--Ramona Ausubel, author of SONS AND DAUGHTERS OF EASE AND PLENTY