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Book reviews from The Free Lance-Star.

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Torn apart by desire

Mystery and Intrigue Keep “Home” Afloat

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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