Book Review: Swimming Home by Deborah Levy

The story of this books circles around nine different characters and view points. At first sight it appears to be a book about a family on holiday in France. They discover a stranger in their swimming pool, Kitty Finch, and Isabel, one of the main characters invites Kitty to stay in their spare room.

Isabel’s husband, Joe, is a famous poet and known for his affairs with several women. Nevertheless his wife Isabel invites the beautiful stranger Kitty Finch to stay in their holiday home and spend time with them. There is also Nina, who is Joe’s and Isabel’s daughter Nina and Laura and Mitchell. They have a German caretaker called Jürgen, who is secretly in love with Kitty.

Kitty has mental issues but at the end of the book the reader realises that these issues are just a reflection of Joe’s much deeper founded depression. Levy manages in this book to switch swiftly between view points and to balance the attention among them very carefully. The chapters of the book are week days. This gives the book a solid timeline and the reader some sort of continuity as the switching between viewpoints happens very fast and can be at times quite confusing.

Levy uses a kind of indirect method a lot to describe different characters. She uses other characters to introduce other characters, if that makes sense 😉 the book uses fairly straight forward language it is yet not very straight forward to read. What makes it a fairly complex read, in my opinion is, that most characters in the book are unable to describe their feelings clearly. Their emotions are quite complex. As a reader I could not attach myself to any of the characters and never got to know them at great depth. This on the other hand can be quite appealing to other readers, as in real life one person is never just one thing. We’ve are all made up of layers and layers of feelings. We are never just one thing.

I personally did not like the book, for the above mentioned reason. I had to read it as part of my course. It is useful to see how Levy uses characters to get different view points across. If you are interested in character development and points of view then I do recommend this book.

Book Review: A Visit From The Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan

I had to read this book as part of my University course in creative writing. This isn’t a book I would have normally chosen, but I am glad we had to read it as part of our course, as it has an interesting structure.

The book has thirteen chapters, which can either be read as individual short stories, or as part of the whole novel. The stories evolve around certain central characters and jump back and forth in time. Each chapter is written from a different characters view point and timeline. Chapter twelve is written as a kind of slide show or power point presentation. Although the book can be read a separate short stories, there is a threat that follows through the book and links the characters to each other and in the end the book comes full circle back to the first story.

I found the book a bit strange to start with and was looking for something I can relate to, but after a while I got used to the style and the way the different characters presented itself. The book is mainly based around New York, but some stories take you out of that setting into different countries for example Italy or a Safari in Africa. I have never come across a book written in this way and I have to say I liked it. I liked that it wasn’t predictable and kept me as a reader guessing of what might happen next. The book gets a 👍 thumbs up from me.