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Publisher's Summary

Ingrid Coleman writes letters to her husband, Gil, about the truth of their marriage, but instead of giving them to him, she hides each in the thousands of books he has collected over the years. When Ingrid has written her final letter, she disappears from a Dorset beach, leaving behind her beautiful but dilapidated house by the sea, her husband, and her two daughters, Flora and Nan.

Twelve years after her disappearance, Gil thinks he sees Ingrid from a bookshop window, but he's getting older, and this unlikely sighting is chalked up to senility. Flora, who has never believed her mother drowned, returns home to care for her father and to try to finally discover what happened to Ingrid. But what Flora doesn't realize is that the answers to her questions are hidden in the books that surround her. Sexy and whip-smart, Swimming Lessons holds the Coleman family up to the light, exposing the mysterious and complicated truths of a passionate and troubled marriage.

©2017 Claire Fuller (P)2016 Audible, Ltd

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4 out of 5 stars
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    77
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    93
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    18
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    7

Performance

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Story

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Can't decide

Strange book! The story kept me interested, but what a strange and sad story! The ending left me with unanswered questions...

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

A penetrating examination of identity and marriage

4.5 stars. To call this book a mystery (or literary mystery) does not do it justice. At a basic level, this is the story of a wife and mother (Ingrid) who went missing in 1992, how her fraught marriage led to the disappearance, and the aftermath for her family. But it is so much more. The novel tells the tale from two perspectives: in modern times, you see Ingrid's husband and daughters and how they have dealt with never having closure about whether she left or died; in 1992, a set of letters written by Ingrid to her husband, outlining their meeting, courtship, and marriage. Ingrid's letters are the star of this book and make it special - she never sends her husband (Gil, a successful but eventually stilted author) the letters, but rather places them within the books of his voluminous collection, matching the letters to titles that are evocative of each letter's revelations. These pairings are clever and poignant. The letters move forward in time, inching ever-closer to her disappearance. In modern times, both daughters are recalled home to their father, who is ailing and injured, having thought he saw his long-missing wife in the street and fallen while pursuing this woman (apparition or reality, we are left guessing until the end). The letters are a meditation on youth and romance, passion and betrayal. Ingrid feels counterfeit and thwarted in her life as a mother, and her letters give voice to feeling at odds with the life you've ended up with. While the modern chapters are less enthralling then the letters speaking from the past, there are still moments of beauty and despair. And you can't really fault the husband and children for not feeling as immediate and real and captivating as Ingrid, whose letters from the past have real and drastic ramifications on the present. The epilogue is a nice touch. Recommended.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

Flat ending

Great narration. Odd ending. I was expecting more after being pulled into each character. It felt like it was left unfinished.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

I was addicted to listening to this story!!

A must listen for every woman!! A tale of "what not to do". Loved the story and the narrator's many voices!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Interesting...

I liked the premise of the book. The characters could have been more robust. The plot was dark and not as intriguing as I would have liked.

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Slow-moving,Lost interest

I read about halfway through,then skimmed the rest. Nothing much seemed to be happening.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Gets Better and Better

Didn't think I was going to like this one at first but found myself falling under the author's spell and allowing myself to be transported by this unusual novel. The writing is lyrical and intelligent, and the narration adds fundamentally to the book's emotional resonance.

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

A little disappointed

Hmmm, I'm a little disappointed in the end. I was hoping for much more. I should have rented from the library instead of buying the audiobook.
The story is great, a little hard to listen to sometimes between the back and forth but it kept me on my seat until the end.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Extraordinary performance

I will definitely choose another book by the same reader again, her voice and performance are just brilliant, even changed her tone and the way of expression according to each different role. There is a life-story in her telling.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Wistful and lovely...

I was really drawn in and entranced by the back and forth, between past and present, between points of view. I loved the slow revelation of the characters and the story.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • dumphimlove
  • 03-23-17

Riveting!

This is one of those books you either love or hate. I loved it! All the characters are flawed but are more believable for that. I'll be looking for more titles by Claire Fuller.

10 of 10 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Rachel Redford
  • 02-06-17

Beautifully beguiling - don't miss it!


Claire Fuller's slightly mystical, beautifully written first novel was Our Endless Numbered Days which I highly recommended on my Audible review page on 27/7/2015. Her second novel Swimming Lessons fulfils all the promise of her first - I loved it.

The structure is carefully contrived but is seamless to read or listen to as we're taken backwards and forwards in time. Ingrid is a university student who falls for her slightly predatory far older tutor Gil Coleman and when she finds she's pregnant, they marry. Ingrid is not allowed to take her Finals and Gil loses his job and becomes a full time writer, although in fact he spends more time philandering and very little writing anything beyond one successful (and ultimately destructive) book. Ingrid struggles with children and miscarriages, the pain of which is exquisitely described. She has always been happiest in the water, and one day she leaves her clothes on the beach and disappears.

The other layer of the story is Gil as a broken old man, irascible and selfish in his house stacked with thousands of books, with his two very different grown-up daughters Flora and Nan around him. Their memories of their missing mother and their present day lives haunted by her disappearance form a strand of the narrative, but the core is made up of the letters which Ingrid wrote to Gil as her passionate marriage fell apart and which she doesn't give to him, but slips inside random books on his overflowing shelves.

Like her previous novel, there is a light touch of fairy tale which transports the listener, but at the same time it's firmly rooted in real life and the idiosyncrasies, complexities, pain and pleasures of relationships. The rhythm of the story is like the sea which is so important to the whole story, ebbing, flowing, constantly moving. The themes of betrayal, regret, guilt, loss, absence, isolation are all worked through with a gentle delicacy, the language always imaginative and fresh. There are some mysteries which are never solved, and some solutions are dispersed through the story like beads on a necklace. The narrator Rachel Atkins does a great job and adds another dimension to the novel - the dialogue is particularly skilfully presented.

Don't miss this one, and look out for Claire Fuller's third one!



27 of 31 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Julia
  • 03-09-17

Beautifully constructed work

This book was read brilliantly. The reader captured the characters well.

The story was good too, though the topic took me a while to get into. The author keeps you hanging right until the end.

9 of 10 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Abby Fraser
  • 06-24-17

Narration does not help characters

Any additional comments?

Throughout listening to the book, the mystery element of the fate of Ingrid was compelling enough to listen for hours on end. However, the narration and especially the vocal differentiation between different characters detracted from my enjoyment of the book by influencing my perception of the characters. Gil was diminished to a sleazy sounding old man in both the flashbacks and in his old age while Flora was portrayed as a whining, entitled child. Had I read the book I may have been able to appreciate the characters in their entirety but unfortunately by listening I was only able to perceive them negatively.

11 of 13 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Sally
  • 05-15-17

Depressing and sad story

Struggled to finish it. It was so depressing and the circumstances the mother found herself in were awful. I felt the half written by the mum in letters were so sad that the struggle the daughters and husband had in the modern day were less important.

The narration was excellent.

11 of 13 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Jayne
  • 03-04-17

Where's the story????

What disappointed you about Swimming Lessons?

There was no plot, no proper ending, a waste of a precious credit, all through the book I was waiting for something to happen but sadly nothing did, save your credit.

Would you ever listen to anything by Claire Fuller again?

No

What does Rachel Atkins bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

The narration was good pity Rachel didn't have anything good to narrate.

What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

Boredom

19 of 23 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Sarah
  • 02-11-17

Dreadful.

Nothing wrong with the narration, however, there was no story at all. It just limped along at a tedious pace. I wanted to throttle youngest daughter who winged her way through the story. Awful.

17 of 21 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Katherine Croft
  • 03-07-17

Excellent

Thoroughly enjoyed this audiobook.

It kept me guessing all the way through - is she or isn't she...

I thought the narration was very good.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Bookworm
  • 03-06-17

No thriller but suspense up to the last minute

What a book! Couldn't put it down and out of my mind. Loved every minute of it. And beautifully read.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • android1968
  • 02-07-17

Great!

Lovely concept, well written and brilliantly narrated. Looking forward to reading more Clare Fuller very soon!

6 of 7 people found this review helpful