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Swimming Home by Deborah Levy
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Swimming Home (original 2011; edition 2012)

by Deborah Levy

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5233619,336 (3.35)2 / 111
Member:kiwidoc
Title:Swimming Home
Authors:Deborah Levy
Info:Faber and Faber (2012), Paperback, 176 pages
Collections:Read in 2012, Read and given away
Rating:****
Tags:None

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Swimming Home by Deborah Levy (2011)

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English (35)  German (1)  All languages (36)
Showing 1-5 of 35 (next | show all)
The characters were flat, undifferentiated. They were faceless to me, doing nothing, being nothing, but somehow permeating the book with their unspoken whining. Intensely irritating. They all melted together as an amorphous mass of indecipherable...nothingness. I am so done with this book. ( )
  TheBookJunky | Apr 22, 2016 |
A short sharp shock of a story - complicated characters having complicated and slightly obscure interactions. There's something dreamlike about the way things unfold, and the book has a pervasive atmosphere of uneasiness. I felt like I missed some of the symbolism and references, and there were a few too many characters to juggle in such a short novel, but the ending is powerful and memorable. ( )
  mjlivi | Feb 2, 2016 |
Swimming home by Deborah Levy
This story is about a family that travels to enjoy their vacation at a villa.
Joe and his wife Isobelle and daughter Nina. They arrive to find a nude woman, Kitty Finch coming out of their pool and after talking to her they find there are no hotel rooms and Laura invites her to stay with them.
Joe is a poet and he finds the hot women are chasing him to read their own poetry-to help get them discovered.
Other tourists get the attention of the family. Surprised kind of at the ending, thought it'd be another.
I received this book from National Library Service for my BARD (Braille Audio Reading Device). ( )
  jbarr5 | Jan 22, 2016 |
A philandering famous poet, his war correspondent wife and their daughter are spending the summer with friends at a villa in the South of France when out of the blue a naked young woman steps out of their swimming pool. The poet's wife invites Kitty (as she's called) to stay in the spare room of the villa as she says there has been a mix up in bookings, knowingly lighting the touchpaper of their marital problems.

Kitty has a deadly combination of mental illness and obsession with the poet's writing, and the summer will never be the same again after her arrival.

This novel was a quick read, and although it was inevitably leading up to a big end event I felt like I didn't totally engage with the writing. The characters were all fairly unlikeable, and though I never felt like aborting the read, I felt immediately ambivalent about it when I'd finished.

3 stars - forgettable. ( )
  AlisonY | Nov 21, 2015 |
(28) This short novel is seriously overrated. At least according to my taste. A famous English poet takes a holiday with his family and friends in the South of France. A mysteriously young woman, Kitty Finch, shows up and is given shelter with the group despite her oddness. It turns out she is the poet's fan and has written a poem herself that she wants him to read. She is young and beautiful and the poet is known to be unfaithful to his wife, so it is unclear why his wife, Isabel, who appears to be some sort of successful war corespondent mostly absentee mother and wife, actually invites Kitty to stay with them in the first place. Who knows, and frankly who cares?

I found this novel fairly pretentious. You read the reviews and you see it shortlisted for the Booker prize in 2012 and it is quite short and you think - Wow, this has gotta be good. But its almost a bit of the 'Emperor's New Clothes' phenomenon. This writer appears to have the credentials that suit the highbrow reviewers and so the book must be good. And perhaps it is, but its not that great.

There is one passage in the book that talks about how the depressed are always obsessed with their own depression, their every feeling, their every symptom is of utmost importance. They can't see beyond themselves. I felt like this with this book. I guess Kitty Finch and company were so enigmatic, so 'depressed,' so flawed that the author couldn't see beyond them to actually entertain her readers. It was just one queer and fairly pointless scene after another. Not exactly post-modernist, but a little of that 'screw you, reader' feel. I mean fercrissakes let us read Kitty Finch's poem, at least.

Anyway, this novel grated on me if you can't tell. Three stars because the ending was creepy and I liked the immediate, chaotic first person reactions of Nina - that was pretty well-done. And I agree the author creates an excellent lazy, kind of drunk, vacationy, vibe with only a few words. But the rest - Bah! forgettable. ( )
  jhowell | Aug 30, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 35 (next | show all)
Levy manipulates light and shadow with artfulness. She transfixes the reader: we recognise the centipede as the thing of darkness in us all. This is an intelligent, pulsating literary beast.
added by geocroc | editThe Telegraph, Philip Womack (Aug 7, 2012)
 
Swimming Home reminded me of Virginia Woolf's Mrs Dalloway. Although a short work, it has an epic quality. This is a prizewinner.
added by geocroc | editThe Independent, Julia Pascal (Oct 21, 2011)
 
With her first novel in 15 years, Deborah Levy has taken worn structures and made something strange and new...

...and the reader closes the book both satisfied and unnerved
added by peterbrown | editThe Guardian, John Self (Oct 7, 2011)
 

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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Deborah Levyprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
McCarthy, TomIntroductionmain authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
‘Each morning in every family, men, women and children, if they have nothing better to do, tell each other their dreams. We are all at the mercy of the dream and we owe it to ourselves to submit its power to the waking state.’
– La Révolution surréaliste, No. 1, December 1924
Dedication
To Sadie and Leila, so dear, always
First words
When Kitty Finch took her hand off the steering wheel and told him she loved him, he no longer knew if she was threatening him or having a conversation.
Quotations
Her gaze, the adrenalin of it, was a stain, the etcs in her poem a bright light, a high noise. And if all this wasn't terrifying enough, her attention to the detail of every day was even more so, to pollen and struggling trees and the instincts of animals, to the difficulties of pretending to be relentlessly sane, to the way he walked (he had kept the rheumatism that aged him a secret from his family), to the nuance of mood and feeling in them all. Yesterday he had watched her free some bees trapped in the glass of a lantern as if it were she who was held captive. She was as receptive as it was possible to be, an explorer, an adventurer, a nightmare. Every moment with her was a kind of emergency, her words always too direct, too raw, too truthful.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Wikipedia in English (1)

Book description
As he arrives with his family at the villa in the hills above Nice, Joe sees a body in the swimming pool. But the girl is very much alive. She is Kitty Finch: a self-proclaimed botanist with green-painted fingernails, walking naked out of the water and into the heart of their holiday. Why is she there? What does she want from them all? And why does Joe’s wife allow her to remain?
Haiku summary
Obsessed Kitt swims nude ~ Isable invites her in ~ Villa is altered. (catted)

No descriptions found.

(see all 2 descriptions)

'Swimming Home' is a subversive page-turner, a merciless gaze at the insidiuos harm that depression can have on apparently stable, well-turned-out people. Set in a summer villa, the story is tautly structured, taking place over a week in which a group of beautiful, flawed tourists in the French Riviera come loose at the seams.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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