Book review: Swimming Home


Swimming Home by Deborah Levy

I picked this book up from the library for a couple of reasons….it looked new (yes, I’m kind of shallow like that) and it was short. I love reading but my attention span is not what it once was thanks to sleep deprivation and an ongoing internal dialogue that recites my to-do list on repeat. I also picked it up because it had, “longlisted for the Man Booker Prize” on the cover. For me, that’s an almost sure fire advertisement that I’ll like it. Some people choose wine based on the medals on the bottle and I’m happy to be judged accordingly.

These days I mainly read on my way to or from work and as I hit page two I came across the lines in the picture above. I had to put the book down as I shed a few tears. Sometimes, a writer puts words together in a way that speak to our souls. And this line, one that is repeated in several places throughout the book, is one. I search for years to find such truth reflected back to me in print.

I’m not going to tell you much about the plot except that it’s set in a holiday villa in France where the poet, Joe Jacobs his wife Isabel, daughter Nina and some family friends are staying. They are essentially gate crashed by the erratic and unstable Kitty Finch who Isabel invites to stay with them.

There’s an undercurrent of anxiety with every character not just the very quirky Kitty. They aren’t comfortable in their own skins on the whole. They aren’t particularly likeable characters with the exception perhaps of Nina.

Reading this feels like a swim in fairly calm seas – like you’re bobbing around with your head just above the water considering your next move – but with the sinking feeling a shark is watching you ready to attack at the appropriate moment.

I loved this book and it has stayed with me for weeks since I closed the back cover.

What’s the best book you’ve read of late?

2 thoughts on “Book review: Swimming Home

  1. Natalie Barnes

    Sounds like my kind of book! I haven’t read a book in a while – very sad for this lover of literature! It’s a sorry sight that even my magazines lay in a neglected pile waiting for their pages to be turned. Before commenting, I quickly reserved this at my local library and can’t wait to pick it up.


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