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.

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