Swimming Lessons by Claire Fuller
Swimming Lessons is a cleverly written novel about Gil, a slightly eccentric, charming, dazzling…and philandering English professor. Perhaps you know the type. Wonderful to be around but you wouldn’t want to date him! His wife Ingrid died over a decade earlier, presumably by drowning while swimming in the ocean. One day, Gil thinks he sees Ingrid, and tries to follow her, falling and seriously injuring himself. His adult daughters, Nan and Flora, return home to help him recover and either find Ingrid or come to terms with her death once and for all. Now for the clever part: Ingrid wrote several letters to Gil about their relationship and left these letters behind in Gil’s generous collection of books. Miraculously, Flora finds them in chronological order!
This is British author Claire Fuller’s second novel. Her first, Our Endless Numbered Days, is high in my to read pile after talking to one of my colleagues about Swimming Lessons. She said Our Endless Numbered Days begs to be discussed. I would argue that Swimming Lessons is discussion worthy as well. I was drawn to this novel because it kept popping up as a best book of the month selection on the book websites I faithfully troll. What kept me reading were Ingrid’s letters. I wasn’t a fan of Gil’s; I saw his unsavory methods a mile away, but I also can picture his allure as Ingrid talks about how she fell for him and ultimately married him. The ending shares some family dynamics that are truly touching and make the whole book worth it.