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Swimming Lessons

Written by: Claire Fuller
Narrated by: Rachel Atkins
Length: 9 hrs and 23 mins
3.5 out of 5 stars (6 ratings)

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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
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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • James K.
  • 2017-07-30

Can't decide

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

5 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • S. Yates
  • 2018-02-28

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.

4 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Marianne Woodford
  • 2018-02-19

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.

3 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Tammy Wallace
  • 2017-05-09

Flat ending

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

3 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Ingrid
  • 2019-08-22

Nice writing but very unsatisfying story.

We read this for our book club. None of us loved it. The ending was unsatisfying to me as to my friend who voiced that before I finished it. I probably disliked that ending more than my friend did. Some of the descriptions and the imagery are terrific so I cannot complain about the writing. One gets the feeling that there’s too much editor or publisher interference. I imagine that since the editor knows the story really really well they might’ve forgotten that it might not make sense to somebody who is just reading for the first time not talking to the author. I would want the author to clarify what she really wants the reader to know. Because when you finish you’re like “wait what?”. “Why on earth would she choose that ending?”.… perhaps I missed something. I gave it an honest shot. I heard her other book was better.

2 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Faithfulbuyseller
  • 2017-08-10

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.

2 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Lindsay
  • 2017-03-27

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!

2 people found this helpful

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  • Elizabeth
  • 2017-09-15

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.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 2019-10-22

Wonderful read

This story kept me intrigued throughout. I didn’t mind the back and forth of the present and past.

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • carol g.
  • 2018-01-28

Slow-moving,Lost interest

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

1 person found this helpful