Book reviews from The Free Lance-Star.
Torn apart by desire
By Nicholas Addison Thomas
For The Free Lance–Star
FEW stories make you forget about your favorite reads, and fewer still pack a punch through prose. Celebrated author Deborah Levy accomplishes that and more in “Swimming Home,” a poetic book that highlights the far-reaching effects of desire.
The plot opens with a naked woman floating in the pool of a French villa, her hair spider-webbed out in the water, her fingernails the color of fresh-cut grass. Her name is Kitty Finch, a peculiar young lady with an affinity for botany and poetry, a combo that catches the attention of Joe, a womanizing poet who’s visiting Nice with his wife. It doesn’t take long before Joe and others become Kitty-consumed. As the young woman becomes a fixture in the villa, she begins to serve as a mirror of sorts for the folk vacationing there, their motives peeling away like sunburned skin. What’s ultimately revealed is a community of lost and lovelorn people, all of whom seek happiness in any form possible.
It’s easy to understand why “Swimming Home” was a finalist for the 2012 Man Booker Prize. It’s Richard Branson-rich in detail, driven by deliciously complex characters and tugs at the societal strings that bind us all in thought-provoking fashion. And it reads like a summer breeze—light and whimsical in style, steady and lifting in tone. From the very beginning, you’re treated to a free-flowing story that’s equal parts poetic and powerful. If it’s literary elegance you dig, “Swimming Home” is your buried treasure.
Nicholas Addison Thomas is a freelance writer in Fredericksburg.
By Deborah Levy
(Bloomsbury, $14, 176 pp.)
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