I am very stingy with my 5 Star Reviews. Rightfully so because there are so many books out which makes it hard for me to determine books that I actually really loved years later. My foolproof plan for this problem is to check and see if they have a 5 Star review from “Past Aimee”. “Future Aimee” appreciates when a 5 Star review has been given because then I know what to recommend. Ha!
Anywho…I received a copy of this book as and advanced reader copy from Netgalley and I cannot wait to purchase a hard copy for my collection. This is one of the Book Of The Month Selections for December so if you sign up you can get it for $5 instead of $19.95!
If for some reason you aren’t able to get it from The Book Of The Month Club…here is the Amazon Pre-order Link too. I think you should buy it so much so that I have two ways for you to get it. 🙂
Now For My Review!
by Claire Fuller
Release Date: January 28, 2017
I had a feeling I would love this book the second I read the synopsis. It is set in two time periods. The early setting is told via letters written by Ingrid Coleman to her husband Gil Coleman. She leaves each letter in a book within his massive book collection in their old house by the sea. The letters detail their relationship from the very beginning when they met. Ingrid was in college and Gil was her writing professor many years her senior. He was a freewheeling bohemian writer always believing that he was writing his breakthrough novel. When they began their relationship, it was fun and exciting for 21 year old Ingrid. She felt like her life was finally exciting and let the wool be pulled over her eyes to Gills womanizing and unfaithful behavior. Soon after their summer fling begins, Ingrid gets pregnant. Life does a complete 180 from where she thought it was going. Because Gil was her professor, the college fires him and forces her to quit school weeks before she was due to graduate. Ingrid suffers through many embarrassments and disappointments at the hands of Gil whom she marries shortly before their daughter is born. She looks at her life constantly and questions what she is doing here and why she stays. Was she meant to be a mother? Why does she allow Gil to stray from their marriage and get away with it? Will Gil ever write the amazing novel he promises and get them out of living penny to penny? Fast forward 12 years into the future. Ingrid has been gone for over 11 years presumed drowned in the ocean although she was a remarkable swimmer. Their daughters have returned to their childhood home to care for their dying father who has found the letters from his late wife. He is frantic to find and read each one before burning them all like his late wife requested. She never wanted their daughters to find them and read her deeply private thoughts and experiences with their marriage and motherhood. His daughters each remember their time with their mother and father differently and each believe something different when their father says he saw Ingrid outside of a bookshop in their small town. They question whether their father is seeing ghosts in his old age and deteriorating health, or is their mother really still alive and returning to them?
I loved this book for many reasons. To hear Ingrid’s story told in letters, and experience the pain and sorrow she felt as the years went by after the life choices she made was an incredible journey. To think how Gil must have felt reading her letters and finally understanding what his wife felt all of the times she was left alone raising daughters at such a young age must have haunted him. At least I hope it did. There is one section of the book in which they took a short trip to Italy that will stay with me for a long time. It really made me despise Gil. All of the sorrow I felt for him in his old age went out the window even though the events in Italy had happened over ten years before. The writing in this is beautiful and yet it is friendly to a causal reader. I didn’t feel like any of it went over my head and none of it felt pretentious. This story is about the choices we make, how our children see us as they get older and how life doesn’t always turn out the way we had planned. It also reminds us that our choices don’t have to be final. We are never trapped unless we decide to be trapped. There is always a way out, we just have to decide what we can deal with and how far someone can push us before it is too much to bear.
Here is the books synopsis…
From the author of the award-winning and word-of-mouth sensation Our Endless Numbered Days comes an exhilarating literary mystery that will keep readers guessing until the final page.
Ingrid Coleman writes letters to her husband, Gil, about the truth of their marriage, but instead of giving them to him, she hides them 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 later, 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. Scandalous and whip-smart, Swimming Lessons holds the Coleman family up to the light, exposing the mysterious truths of a passionate and troubled marriage.