Thursday, 14 March 2013

Swimming Home by Deborah Levy

Deborah Levy conjures up a scorching, summer holiday atmosphere in her latest novel, Swimming Home. It all begins when Joe and Isabel arrive at their rented Riviera villa with their daughter Nina, to find a naked woman lying at the bottom of the pool. Isabel dives in to see if the girl is all right and unwittingly finds herself inviting her to use the spare room. Their guests, Mitchell and Laura, look on with amazement.

The young woman, Kitty Finch, is emotionally disturbed and turns out to have an obsession with Joe, a famous poet. Joe, who has already jeopardised his marriage with a string of affairs, looks set to jump into another one. What makes it all the more worrying is the mental affliction Kitty shares with Joe – depression, and Kitty stirs up things Joe is at pains to forget. The tension builds towards a shocking ending within a glorious setting of fruit-laden orchards and seaside cafes.

Swimming Home was short-listed for last year’s Mann Booker Prize. Levy’s prose is beautifully crafted and there are plenty of ideas about what makes us tick simmering under the surface. Swimming Home is the kind of book you want to dive into again.

Reviewed by Paige Turner

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Swimming Home by Deborah Levy, 2012

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