Saturday, January 28, 2017

2017 book 19

Claire Fuller's Swimming Lessons
Fuller's second novel (after the great but upsetting Our Endless Numbered Days) is the story of a family--or really, the story of a troubled marriage that ended when the wife disappeared--presumably drowned. Now it's years later and her husband (a famous writer) is sure he's seen her in passing on the street, but it's passed off as dementia as his daughters come to care for him. All of that is interspersed with the letters she wrote him--and hid in the books on his bookshelves--before she left. And those letters are so much more compelling than the modern stuff (none of those characters feel fully realized, especially the younger daughter's love interest who just hangs around to be an annoying fanboy--was I supposed to be rooting for them to make it?). I feel like there are so many literary novels about troubled jerkface writers cheating on their wives--and so I really found her perspective so interesting, as she deals with young motherhood, societal expectations, the loss of her own dreams, her philandering husband and his writing, etc. Emotional labor galore. I wish the book had just been her story because that's where it really shines--the rest is kind of sketchy. B/B+.

A review copy was provided by the publisher. This book will be released on February 7th.

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