102 of 115 people found the following review helpful
Not waving but drowning.,
This review is from: Swimming Home (Paperback)
I know that I am swimming against the tide here but reviews are personal - and personally, I didn't like this book (actually, more of a novella) one bit.
The writing is pretentious, riddled with symbolism, and the characters are impossible to warm to. Fortunately, the reader doesn't have to spend too much time in their company. I disagree with other reviewers about the book being light on plot. If anything, I found it plot-heavy for the ephemeral style of writing. But I do agree with J. M. Gardner who found echoes of Martin Amis's The Pregnant Widow. If you like middle-aged, middle-class people sitting round a swimming pool discussing - or actually, not discussing but thinking about their varying degrees of angst, then maybe this is a book that will appeal to you. And talking of swimming pools, here was a point about the book that jarred for me from the outset. The pool at the South of France villa where two couples and the teenage daughter of one of the couples is spending the summer is green. It is described on page 5 as being "more like a pond". For me, this was a complete deal-breaker in terms of credibility right there. There is NO WAY anybody is going to put up with a dirty pool on a long-term summer holiday villa let. It may sound a trivial point but I just knew from that point that I was never going to believe in these people. Here is the cast list:
Joe, devoted father of the teenager, famous poet, serial philanderer and guilty Holocaust survivor.
Wife, Isabel, successful war correspondent who has put her career before her daughter.
Mitchell, unsuccessful seller of bric-a-brac, foodie and gun-collector.
His wife, Laura, a giant of a woman and potentially the most interesting character of the lot, but woefully underwritten.
Nina, the beautiful teenage daughter, who may be in love with her daddy but gets a crush on the interloper.
Kitty Finch, the inevitable interloper who is going to change everything. She is irritating in the extreme and, frankly, nuts.
Madeleine Sheridan, observant old next-door neighbour, ex-pat and shrink (incredibly convenient).
Jurgen, utterly unbelievable caretaker (see swimming pool).
Claude, Mick Jagger look-alike who owns the local café and fancies Nina.
Essentially, this is a book about two dislikeable people each of them with a damaged psyche and a death-wish. How it got onto the Booker list, I will never know. Oh, wait a minute, I do. It's just the sort of thing the Booker panel always seems to go for.
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Showing 1-10 of 11 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 26 Nov 2012 11:28:33 GMT
Dan Fante says:
What a great review.
In reply to an earlier post on 26 Nov 2012 11:57:07 GMT
Gosh, thanks Dan. So nice of you to take the time to comment :o)
Posted on 27 Dec 2012 11:34:59 GMT
Sandra Gordon says:
Fantastic review thank you very much.
In reply to an earlier post on 27 Dec 2012 13:20:19 GMT
Thank you, Sandra - and how good of you to take the time to say so!
Posted on 23 Jan 2013 14:30:33 GMT
I totally agree with you!
Great summary, great character description...why should we care about these people? and how come it got on the Booker short-list? having said that and having just finished another Booker-short-listed book ( Snowdrops) I must remind myself to avoid these short-lists, or maybe the Booker prize altogether.
In reply to an earlier post on 23 Jan 2013 15:07:08 GMT
Last edited by the author on 23 Jan 2013 15:08:05 GMT
In reply to an earlier post on 3 Feb 2013 17:59:52 GMT
You are so right about that dirty pool - the rest of the house didn't sound too great either and it is supposed to belong to a whole batch of houses owned by the same rich property owner.
In reply to an earlier post on 1 Apr 2013 22:32:24 BDT
I was disappointed with this book and agree with your analysis of the characters Sue. Kitty Finch particularly annoyed me.
In reply to an earlier post on 2 Apr 2013 11:33:15 BDT
Thanks for the comment, Aurora. This book seems to have attracted a wide spread of star ratings - so obviously not everyone agrees with us!
In reply to an earlier post on 10 Aug 2013 16:35:40 BDT
Brilliant and funny review.I agreed whole-heartedly.