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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

  • 3.8 out of 5.0
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Can't decide

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

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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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

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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

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Meh.

Spoilers!
The more I think about this book, the more disappointed I am. It's not that it was terrible. It's more that it had the potential to be a really great story and it was just very...mundane. And also a lot of it didn't really make that much sense. Like if you cheated on your wife with literally everyone, even her best friend and then dedicated your book to her best friend (after your wife helped you come up with the plot for the majority of the book), why would you be so concerned with the thought that your wife didn't know you loved her on your deathbed? I mean I get that we all have regrets, but that seems like a stretch. I feel like the plot had potential, but the book just ended up being meh.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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  • Rebecca
  • Seattle, WA, United States
  • 06-23-17

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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Amazing Read!

Rachel Atkins is a marvelous reader for this layered novel of life choices, expectations and letdowns.

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  • Leslie
  • Smyrna, SC, United States
  • 04-11-17

captivating

I find this author to rapidly capture my attention. the characters she develops are wonderful, some you love some you detest but all are intriguing. after listening to the book I had to have it in my hands so I ordered the book and I know I'll reread certain parts or all of it

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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.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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  • 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!



24 of 28 people found this review helpful

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  • 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.

8 of 9 people found this review helpful

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  • 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

16 of 19 people found this review helpful

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  • 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.

16 of 19 people found this review helpful

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  • 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.

10 of 12 people found this review helpful

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  • 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

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  • 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.

8 of 10 people found this review helpful

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  • 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.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • Susan Whitehead
  • 02-10-17

Swimming Lessons

The blurb for this sounded really good and it was a recommended book by you . Have got as far as chapter 5 l just can't bring myself to read any more. Very trivial and silly story

8 of 10 people found this review helpful