After complaining at work about how much crap I’ve been reading lately, a colleague left a book on my desk with a note that said “You’ll like this. Plus it’s a quick read”. Happily, Swimming Home by Deborah Levy not only did not disappoint, but was also shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 2012, and therefore is another book crossed off my Booker Challenge.
The quick summary of this book is that it’s about a family on holiday in France with some friends, who get to their villa only to find a naked lady in the pool. The woman, Kitty, ends up staying in the villa also, and the book explores the dynamics between the characters and how drastically relationships can change within a week. Predominantly, the book takes a closer look at depression, with both Kitty and the poet within the family, Joe, both suffering from it.
It’s difficult to pinpoint why I enjoyed this book so much, when it was limited in its exploration of characters due to its short length. I think I can put it down to the writing style of Deborah Levy. It was an easy read because her well written sentences made it so, and despite the lack of likable characters, it was okay, because you know what? Families are sometimes just so dysfunctional and have become so damaged over time that it can be hard to be likable. Upon reflection, that adds to why I enjoyed this book so much: because the characters were flawed, and that made them genuine. It wouldn’t have been easy, to make a group of people so eccentric and yet so raw, and I commend Deborah Levy for doing it and making it look effortless.
Swimming Home by Deborah Levy – 4 out of 5 stars.