I received this book free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Swimming Home by Deborah Levy
Published by Bloomsbury USA on October 16th 2012
Genres: Contemporary, Literary Fiction
Short-listed for the 2012 Man Booker Prize. With an Introduction by Tom McCarthy, author of C. 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.
“Life is only worth living because we hope it will get better and we’ll all get home safely.”
After spotting this on Netgalley I found myself intrigued but ultimately willing to wait for it to be published. A few days later the Shortlist for the 2012 Man Book Prize was announced and Swimming Home was included, so I decided it was fate that I stumbled upon this book yet again so I went ahead and snagged it.
Kitty, botanist, poet, and part-time exhibitionist suffering from depression, travels to France to meet poet Joe Jacobs who she insists she has a connection with. His wife, Isabel, inevitably gets invited to stay with him and his family and the couple that traveled with them. Isabel Jacobs, a war correspondent, is married to Joe; however, their marriage is in shambles and is obvious to anyone in their proximate vicinity. It is unclear to everyone why Isabel would allow such a girl as Kitty to stay with them, especially considering her obvious fascination with Joe.
“When Kitty Finch took her hand off the steering wheel and told him she loved him, he no longer knew if she was threatening him or having a conversation.”
Swimming Home is a short yet trying read that could almost be considered a novella or even a vignette; a snapshot of that fateful week in France. The writing was intermittently lovely but I found myself unclear as to where the story was going. I can’t help but feel I’m lacking in something by not being able to appreciate these ‘literary masterpieces’ as they should be. Comments were made by the judges of the Booker Prize this year that they’re steering clear of mainstream books and that readability isn’t high on their list of importance. Sir Peter Stothard was quoted as saying: “I felt very, very strongly that I wanted to avoid that thing where people say, ‘Wow, I loved it, it’s terrific’.” Suffice it to say, I did not finish this book and say, “Wow, I loved it, it’s terrific,” so I guess they got something right. I think it’s safe to say I won’t be venturing into anything else this man considers ‘literary masterpieces’, they’re simply not for me.