Swimming Lessons By Claire Fuller

Anytime I read a book in a span of 24 hours, I know it’s a winner.  Such is the case with Claire Fuller’s Swimming Lessons….  a gorgeously written novel about the loss of identity, love and betrayal of the ugliest kind.  Swimming Lessons is a heart-breaking family mystery surrounding the circumstances of the disappearance of Ingrid Coleman, who, twelve years ago, went out for a swim one afternoon and never returned.  Her husband and two daughters are left behind to pick up the pieces and carry on with life-never knowing what really became of their mother.  Did she drown?  Did she leave? Why would she abandon her family?  All is not what it seems, as the reader is taken back in time through a series of letters that Ingrid wrote to her husband Gil before she vanished.  I love when a story flip flops between the past and the present, but that narrative can be very difficult to pull off.  Fuller does it seamlessly and you find yourself deeply engrossed in the details of the Coleman marriage while also getting present day insight through the eyes of the two (now grown) daughters.  Piece by scandalizing piece, Fuller provides snippets of what went wrong and why.  My heart broke for Ingrid as she struggled to reconcile who she had now become with who she had wanted to be.  It also broke for Flora and Nan, each assuming roles no child should have to at such a young age.  I had quite a visceral reaction to Gil’s character.  Bravo to Fuller for writing him so well that I had several instances throughout the story where I was hoping someone would punch him in the face and hold him accountable.  This book is raw and powerfully written and I give it 5 fantastic stars.  Thank you so much to The Book of the Month Club for introducing me to this incredibly talented author.  What a way to end 2016 for me!

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