Reviews for Swimming Home


Booklist Reviews 2012 November #2
This short but extraordinary novel, shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 2012, takes place in the south of France, where two English couples and one's teenage daughter are sharing a vacation home. One day a woman, Kitty Finch, emerges naked from the swimming pool and becomes the force field shaping the couples' actions and those of the few secondary characters for the succeeding week. Kitty is, in the words of Levy's spare and haunting prose, "a window that was waiting to be climbed through." The tension between the two families--poet Joe (Jozef) Jacobs, his war correspondent wife, Isabel, and their daughter, Nina; and Mitchell and his wife, Laura--is palpable, and Levy's surgically precise language insightfully reveals their characters with the intensity of a tightly controlled play. Levy's changes of pace and tone, from poetic to vulgar, drive this very arresting novel--at times suggestive of D. H. Lawrence and Virginia Woolf--to its unsettling conclusion. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.

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Kirkus Reviews 2012 November #1
Naked came the stranger--and, oddly, no one's in much of a hurry to get her clothed. When Kitty Finch shows up at the door of a famous British poet's tony vacation getaway in the South of France, she makes quite an impression. She is staggeringly beautiful and, as mentioned, unclothed. And then her eyes--well, "Kitty Finch's eyes were grey like the tinted windows of Mitchell's hire car, a Mercedes, parked on the gravel at the front of the villa." She has skills as a botanist, is a would-be poet herself and has an odd fixation with the poet, who is a bit of an odd duck himself, a collector of bits and pieces of natural history, of bric-a-brac and allusion and especially of people, surrounded by other odd ducks such as a German hippie who "was never exact about anything" and keeps his nose and brain tucked inside Hermann Hesse's Siddhartha most of the time. As South African–born British writer Levy (Ophelia and the Great Idea, 1988, etc.) soon lets us know, Kitty Finch--her name is repeated like a mantra throughout the book--has designs on Joe Jacobs, who doesn't mind at first, but soon comes to regret the dalliance. Who, after all, wouldn't be just a little afraid of a girl who can wink with either eye? The bigger question, on which the book turns, is why Joe's wife, Isabel, allows events to unfold as they do; is this all an experiment for her benefit and interest, too? Levy winds her characters up and watches them go, and they do as most humans do, which is to mess up in the face of desire. Her novel is utterly beautiful and lyrical throughout, even at the most tragic turns ("I have never got a grip on when the past begins or where it ends...as much as I try to make the past keep still and mind its manners, it moves and murmurs with me through every day"). A shortlisted nominee for the Man Booker Prize, deserving of the widest readership. Copyright Kirkus 2012 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

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