Written by Claire Fuller
Publication Date January 28, 2017
In this spine-tingling tale Ingrid Coleman writes letters to her husband, Gil, about the truth of their marriage, but she never sends them. Instead she hides them within the thousands of books her husband has collected. After she writes her final letter, Ingrid disappears.
Twelve years later, her adult daughter, Flora comes home to look after her injured father. Secretly, Flora has never believed her mother is dead, and she starts asking questions, without realizing that the answers she’s looking for are hidden in the books that surround her.
CLAIRE FULLER was born in Oxfordshire, England, in 1967. She received a degree in sculpture from Winchester School of Art, but went on to have a long career in marketing and didn’t start writing until she was forty. Her first novel, Our Endless Numbered Days, won the Desmond Elliot Prize and was a finalist for the ABA Adult Debut Novel Award and the Edinburgh International Book Festival Award. She has an MA in Creative and Critical Writing from the University of Winchester and lives in Hampshire with her husband and two children.
"Saving the best for last with revelations and surprises, Fuller’s well-crafted, intricate tale captures the strengths and shortcomings of ordinary people to show how healing is possible by confronting the darkest places." Library Journal, STARRED REVIEW
"As she did in her first novel, Our Endless Numbered Days (2015), Fuller proves to be a master of temporal space, taking readers through flashbacks and epistolary chapters at a pace timed to create wonder and suspense. It’s her beautiful prose, though, that rounds this one out, as she delves deeply to examine the legacies of a flawed and passionate marriage." Booklist, STARRED REVIEW
"Swimming Lessons hovers in the electric space between secrets and connection, between the desire to love and urge to hide. This is a biting, soaring novel." Ramona Ausubel, author of Sons and Daughters of Ease and Plenty and No One is Here Except All of Us
"Claire Fuller's acrobatic new novel, about a family who has failed each other, inverts our expectations of narrative time to an astonishing effect: our experience of grasping for truth about those who have left is just as pained and urgent as her characters’. Fuller’s sentences are condensed maps of the human process, unfolding in patterns we immediately recognize." Kathleen Alcott, author of Infinite Home
"Claire Fuller has captured love in its fullest form, nursed on betrayal and regret and guilt. Gil cheats on and abandons his wife too many times, until she disappears, leaving her clothing on the beach, and he can't know even if she's still alive. She leaves only letters, hidden in a great library of books, and he'll search for her until his end. Swimming Lessons is so smoothly, beautifully written, and the human failures here are heartbreaking." David Vann, author of Aquarium
"Swimming Lessons continues Claire Fuller’s mastery of beautiful language and heartbreaking imagery, which lays bare the stories of infidelities, lies, revivals of love and then demise of those loves. The women of this novel fight for their very souls, and their stories unfurl like flags of independence appearing in to wave from her landscape of great books and art and hope." Susan Straight, author of Between Heaven and Here
"As in her gorgeously harrowing Our Endless Numbered Days, Claire Fuller returns to the territory of a mother’s disappearance and a father’s lies with bewitching and page-turning results. If anything, Swimming Lessons is an even more complex puzzle box of a book, excavating darkly knotted family secrets, intricately cruel betrayals and layers of ambiguous loss. Fuller is so clear eyed, poised and psychologically shrewd in the unfolding of her tale, you will be kept guessing until the final penetrating sentence. An extraordinarily smart and satisfying read." Paula McLain, author of The Paris Wife
"Fuller’s tale is eloquent, harrowing, raw . . . [this] mystery is sure to keep readers inching off their seats." Kirkus Reviews