Having recently read The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, which was long-listed for the Man Booker Prize, I wanted to read one of the novels that had been shortlisted, and enticed by its blurb, I decided to read Swimming Home, by playwright, poet and novelist Deborah Levy.
It tells the story of poet Joe Jacobs who, while on holiday in the south of France with his wife, daughter and another couple with whom they’re friends, discovers Kitty Finch, floating naked in their villa’s pool. At first passed off as an honest mistake; Kitty regularly stays at the villa and she attributes her actions to having the dates mixed up, it soon becomes apparent that she has a somewhat unhealthy infatuation with the poet and his work.
Dealing with issues of both depression and desire, Swimming Home is a compulsive, addictive read with a unique lyrical prose that lends itself well to the setting of sun-drenched afternoons in southern France. Levy’s evocation of this setting contrasts brilliantly against the often dark and disturbing plot that is laced with intricate characters. The novel spans a week, and the controlled, hypnotic style in which it’s written allows images and ideas to echo and resonate within this time frame.
I found Swimming Home a compelling page turner, indeed, I began it yesterday and finished it in the early hours of this morning during a bout of insomnia. Short yet dense, this delicate novel is a tense and edgy read whose poignant ending leaves its readers unnerved.