Swimming Lessons by Claire FullerSwimming Lessons by Claire Fuller

Swimming Lessons

byClaire Fuller

Paperback | January 28, 2017

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In this spine-tingling tale Ingrid Coleman writes letters to her husband, Gil, about the truth of their marriage, but she never sends them. Instead she hides them within the thousands of books her husband has collected. After she writes her final letter, Ingrid disappears.

Twelve years later, her adult daughter, Flora comes home to look after her injured father. Secretly, Flora has never believed her mother is dead, and she starts asking questions, without realizing that the answers she's looking for are hidden in the books that surround her.

CLAIRE FULLER was born in Oxfordshire, England, in 1967. She received a degree in sculpture from Winchester School of Art, but went on to have a long career in marketing and didn't start writing until she was forty. Her first novel, Our Endless Numbered Days, won the Desmond Elliot Prize and was a finalist for the ABA Adult Debut Book ...
Title:Swimming LessonsFormat:PaperbackDimensions:304 pages, 8 × 5.25 × 0.78 inPublished:January 28, 2017Publisher:House Of Anansi Press IncLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:1487002157

ISBN - 13:9781487002152

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Rated 2 out of 5 by from Disappointed I bought this as it was a staff pick. The synopsis make the book seem promising, but it was just an ok read. The characters weren't developed well, the back and forth between letters and the present at times didn't make sense nor drive the story forward. The ending was disappointing. I felt it wasn't an ending at all and provided no closure to the story.
Date published: 2018-07-12
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Disappointing I was disappointing in this book. The letters in the book were a great way to get to know the various characters; however, I just wasn't pulled into the book as I hoped I would be. The synopsis, I found, was a bit misleading.
Date published: 2018-01-02
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Beautifully written and gripping but not quite a "thriller" as billed I thoroughly enjoyed this book and was kept in its thrall easily - leading to a quick weekend read of the entire thing. That being said, if a thriller is what you are looking for, as the description hints at, I would not say that is what you will find. Unpredictable and ever-changing though it is, this book is more about the evolution of family dynamics than an actual mystery.
Date published: 2017-12-20
Rated 2 out of 5 by from A lot of potential The use of letters to describe and explain the characters themselves and their backstory is clever, but the story just isn't that interesting, in my opinion. There are a lot of cliches- drunkard, cheating husband, sad, unfulfilled wife. The characters are unlikable and uninteresting, and the ending is very disappointing.
Date published: 2017-12-14
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Okay For some reason this book didn't grab me. There were parts that were interesting, but overall I didn't really care. The mystery wasn't really that suspenseful and I feel like that plot was pushed to the wayside a bit.
Date published: 2017-11-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Really Great!! i bought this book and after reading the first page i was hooked! it was an amazing book, and highly suggest reading it!!
Date published: 2017-10-30
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Don't Bother I was really disappointed in this book. A mystery novel? NOT even close. I hated both the mother and father and found Flora so ignorant it was to the point of annoying. I managed to read the whole thing but not sure how...it was just so boring. I kept hoping it would get better but NOPE. Better luck next time.
Date published: 2017-09-20
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Just okay I didn't feel like this was a page turner. I was kind of disappointed, given that the jacket description sounds like a fantastic concept for a story. But the actual tale itself was a hard slog to get through. #plumreview
Date published: 2017-08-25
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Unexpected I loved this book - every time I thought I had all the characters sorted out, the ideas or perspectives changed. Not a typically love story, and so intriguing. Nothing ended the way I expected, and was indeed very captivating.
Date published: 2017-08-18
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Captivating Good plot, interesting characters, and well written. The author leaves the reader with some unexpected twists. #plumreview
Date published: 2017-07-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Captivating so far The beginning of this novel was very interesting. I can't wait to pick it up again after work today. I like the characters so far. #plumreview
Date published: 2017-07-10
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great Read I read this book in one sitting and really enjoyed it!
Date published: 2017-06-01
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Interesting My actual rating is 3.5. I wasn't sure what to expect with this book. It was selected for book club as well and I'm curious as to how this one is going to go over at our meeting. Definitely the story of a dysfunctional family. However, I wouldn't agree with the book jacket which says this is "spine-tingling." There is a little bit of mystery involved but not in a thriller kind of way. I thought the book was well-written and I particularly enjoyed the chapters where we hear Ingrid's voice (the mother) through the letters that she writes to her husband Gil. Through these letters, we learn the story of their relationship from past to the moment Ingrid disappears. The other chapters tell the present story of their daughter Flora. I didn't particularly like Flora's character, as I found her to be whiny and irritating however as we all know, not all family members can be likable. Overall, I enjoyed the story and wanted to know what happened.
Date published: 2017-04-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Captivating The plot and characters had me glued the entire. Job well done.
Date published: 2017-04-17
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Really interesting! Overal really loved this book! It was a bit slow at times but I really liked the main character. She was a complex and innocent characters. The plotline was unique and enjoyable. The writing was amazing and intriguing and complex. I loved the unique premise. Highly recommend!
Date published: 2017-04-15
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Characters were hard to love While Fuller's writing is beautiful, her characters in this story were very hard to like. With every one so dysfunctional, it was hard to find much to love in the actual story. Flora can't seem to keep her head in the real world at all, and the story told from her flaky perspective is hard to read.
Date published: 2017-04-12
Rated 3 out of 5 by from A little slow but good I found this story a little slow in parts, but all in all a good read.
Date published: 2017-04-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Loved this book! I loved this book. It took a while to get into it but it was well worth the effort. This is a story of a dysfunctional family! It is presenting in an interesting narrative fashion alternating with a series of letters from a wife to her husband. I would highly recommend this book. Best book I've read in quite a while!
Date published: 2017-04-03
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A meandering but ultimately satisfying read with interesting characters This book is quite puzzling. It is billed as a mystery but doesn't feel like one. It feels like a romance with some interesting quirks. That said it is a good romance with interesting quirks, I liked the characters was genuinely surprised by the plot developments. The way the story is revealed in the disappeared woman's letters are interesting and I liked the characters of Jonathan and Richard most (though the banter between Nan and Flora was also quite deep) My only problem was that the book had the tendency to meander, some of the passages of the book could be excised and nothing would have been detracted from the book. The pacing was also slow at times. Overall however it is a good quality book with valuable characters and would not be out of place in a quality English class. Recommended
Date published: 2017-03-29
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Couldn't Get Through It The stories were interesting, most specifically when the wife was telling stories from their past together. Very sentimental but in a good way. The story moved along VERY slowly and I never really got into it.
Date published: 2017-03-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from What a story! An excellent addition to any library.
Date published: 2017-03-15
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good read Although the story was slow at the beginning I ended up really enjoying the story.
Date published: 2017-03-12
Rated 2 out of 5 by from A tale of a dysfunctional family Gil Coleman, a professor and well known writer, has been injured, and as the story begins his younger daughter has returned to where she grew up to see her father. Years before Gil's wife and mother of two daughters disappeared and was thought to have drowned. Through alternate chapters the readers learn about the Coleman family. The present is depicted as is the past, through letters written by Ingrid Coleman to her husband Gil. Ingrid's letters explain her perspective of the truth of their dysfunctional marriage; she hides these letters in books in Gil's large library, not knowing if he'll ever read them. I decided to read "Swimming Lessons" after seeing some very positive reviews, but I was very disappointed in this novel and struggled to complete my reading of it. The concept is interesting, but I do not think it holds up, and I did not find this book a satisfying read.
Date published: 2017-03-11
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Well written but slow I enjoyed the way this book was written but found it to be a bit slow for my taste and not overly exciting.
Date published: 2017-03-10
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Honest. I appreciated the honest in this book - that not all relationships are straightforward and that some families are indeed dysfunctional. Secrets may come about long after they are relevant, but should it change the image of the person you thought you knew? I was torn between feeling pity and anger towards Gil and I loved reading Ingrid's truthful accounts of their courting and marriage.
Date published: 2017-02-22
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Love love love I was hooked from the first page. Very captivating... quick and easy read :)
Date published: 2017-02-21
Rated 4 out of 5 by from I loved this book!! I loved this book I couldn't stop reading it! It was very brilliantly done and it sucked me right in. However is was very unclear and wanted to know more about what actually happened to Ingrid. Where did she end up going, was she actually dead? I assume the last two pages of the book were suggesting that she was still alive, but then it left me wondering why she finally left, where she went to, and why was she hanging around?
Date published: 2017-02-21
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Beginnings and Endings The book describes the beginnings and endings of a courtship and marriage and family life as remembered. As the story unfolds in the present about a family (two sisters) coming together after their father has an accident and learn he is seriously ill -- reacting differently based on their memories -- the reader learns of the beginning and ending of his courtship and marriage with their mother through letters she wrote to him before she disappeared. Set by the seaside, and like the tides, the story well describes the ebbs and flows of love and loss.
Date published: 2017-02-14
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Alright I was expecting more of an exciting mystery that was focused on finding out what happened, but I found this a bit slow. It was written well, I think, just not my kind of book.
Date published: 2017-02-03

Editorial Reviews

"Swimming Lessons hovers in the electric space between secrets and connection, between the desire to love and urge to hide. This is a biting, soaring novel." - Ramona Ausubel, author of Sons and Daughters of Ease and Plenty and No One is Here Except All of Us"Claire Fuller's acrobatic new novel, about a family who has failed each other, inverts our expectations of narrative time to an astonishing effect: our experience of grasping for truth about those who have left is just as pained and urgent as her characters'. Fuller's sentences are condensed maps of the human process, unfolding in patterns we immediately recognize." - Kathleen Alcott, author of Infinite Home"Claire Fuller has captured love in its fullest form, nursed on betrayal and regret and guilt. Gil cheats on and abandons his wife too many times, until she disappears, leaving her clothing on the beach, and he can't know even if she's still alive. She leaves only letters, hidden in a great library of books, and he'll search for her until his end. Swimming Lessons is so smoothly, beautifully written, and the human failures here are heartbreaking." - David Vann, author of Aquarium"Swimming Lessons continues Claire Fuller's mastery of beautiful language and heartbreaking imagery, which lays bare the stories of infidelities, lies, revivals of love and then demise of those loves. The women of this novel fight for their very souls, and their stories unfurl like flags of independence appearing in to wave from her landscape of great books and art and hope." - Susan Straight, author of Between Heaven and Here"As in her gorgeously harrowing Our Endless Numbered Days, Claire Fuller returns to the territory of a mother's disappearance and a father's lies with bewitching and page-turning results. If anything, Swimming Lessons is an even more complex puzzle box of a book, excavating darkly knotted family secrets, intricately cruel betrayals and layers of ambiguous loss. Fuller is so clear eyed, poised and psychologically shrewd in the unfolding of her tale, you will be kept guessing until the final penetrating sentence. An extraordinarily smart and satisfying read." - Paula McLain, author of The Paris Wife"Saving the best for last with revelations and surprises, Fuller's well-crafted, intricate tale captures the strengths and shortcomings of ordinary people to show how healing is possible by confronting the darkest places." - Library Journal, STARRED REVIEW"Fuller's tale is eloquent, harrowing, raw . . . [this] mystery is sure to keep readers inching off their seats." - Kirkus Reviews"As she did in her first novel, Our Endless Numbered Days (2015), Fuller proves to be a master of temporal space, taking readers through flashbacks and epistolary chapters at a pace timed to create wonder and suspense. It's her beautiful prose, though, that rounds this one out, as she delves deeply to examine the legacies of a flawed and passionate marriage." - Booklist, STARRED REVIEW