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[Review] Swimming Home by Deborah Levy

by The Borrowers Book Group Kesgrave Library


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 wife allow her to remain?


Recommended for a book group, this is not however an easy read, but an intriguing and disturbing book. Although the beginning does not draw you in, once the story gets going, it takes off and becomes a gripping page turner.

The story is set in the south of France and the poetic prose vividly captures the essence of the setting of the villa, its surroundings and Nice. All the characters are from ‘somewhere else’, outsiders, and we perceive through observations by others, the complexities and emotional turmoil in each.

Other than Nina, and Madeleine the elderly doctor, the characters are not sympathetic. It is through the eyes of Madeleine that we see the madness, an interesting challenge to our ideas of what is mental health.

The book has an intriguing and unexpected twist at the end and neatly folds back on itself. The ending is very sad and emotional.

Recommendation: An intriguing and enjoyable choice for a book group, well written with poetic, vivid descriptions and subtle details. Not a long read but very gripping once it takes off.

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