Published on February 13, 2013 | by Henrietta Hitchcock

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Dive into a great read

A real page-turner [Image: Faber & Faber]

★★★★

Released towards the end of last year, ‘Swimming Home’ is one of the latest novels from Deborah Levy.

An acclaimed playwright as well as an author, it is no wonder that the book unfolds much like a play, with the pool in the courtyard of a French holiday house playing centre stage.

Famous poet Joe Jacobs and his war correspondent wife Isabel, arrive at the French country house with their 14-year-old daughter Nina. Alongside this couple are Laura – Isabel’s life long friend – and her husband Matthew, who despises Joe in every sense of the word.

What looks like a family holiday soon turns sour when a mysterious girl with red hair and painted green finger nails lies floating naked in their pool as they arrive.

Racing through

Kitty Finch, a botanist who claims she is staying because she thought the house would be empty, instantly creates the divide between Isabel and her husband as it become apparent their marriage is already in tatters.

As their daughter becomes increasingly aware of this, the novel carries us along where we also witness Nina’s transformation from child to teenager.

It will draw you in so intensely you might want to give yourself a few hours to read it all in one sitting.

Kitty turns out to be an anorexic insecure mess with an obsession for Joe Jacobs’ poetry. This has devastating effects. The book begins with Joe and Kitty returning from the Hotel Negresco after making love, hurtling at high speeds around the mountains.

It is clear that this is the ending, causing the reader to race through the book in order to find out what has happened between the pair. Their unconventional relationship – and Kitty’s bizarre character – leads the reader to question almost everything that is happening between them.

Swimming Home was short listed for the 2012 Man Booker prize, and it’s easy to understand why. The plot twists are unexpected and the characters so complex you feel like you need to read every line twice.

The only downfall of this book is how intricate the plot is and how quickly you want to read it. It will draw you in so intensely you might want to give yourself a few hours to read it all in one sitting.

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