Book Review: Swimming Home by Deborah Levy

Swimming Home
by Deborah Levy

Publication date: September 10th 2012
Publisher: Faber and Faber (first published October 6th 2011)
Pages: 157


Swimming Home is a subversive page-turner, a merciless gaze at the insidious 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 single week in which a group of beautiful, flawed tourists in the French Riviera come loose at the seams. Deborah Levy’s writing combines linguistic virtuosity, technical brilliance and a strong sense of what it means to be alive. Swimming Home represents a new direction for a major writer. In this book, the wildness and the danger are all the more powerful for resting just beneath the surface. With its deep psychology, biting humour and deceptively light surface, it wears its darkness lightly.

Source: Goodreads


This is the second time I have read “Swimming Home”. It was the first Deborah Levy book I ever read and still remains my favourite of hers.

It’s July 1994 and Joe Jacobs has arrived in France with his family. They take a look around to find a body in the swimming pool. Fearing the worst, the family investigate to find that the body is very much alive and is Kitty Finch, a naked botanist from England.

With nowhere else to stay, the family allow Kitty to share the villa for a few days. What follows is a deeply psychological and somewhat dark novel, slowly revealing the secrets and insecurities of each character.

Deborah Levy seems to have a knack for doing so much in such a small book. I enjoy her writing style and her ability to pack a punch with so few words, similar to the books by Yoko Ogawa that I enjoy so much.

“Swimming Home” is wonderfully elusive and I find it quite difficult to describe why I enjoy it so much. With so many unanswered questions, you can’t help but keep reading to see where things are headed and then before you know it, it’s over.

“Life is only worth living because we hope it will get better and we’ll all get home safely. “

Overall rating: It’s 5 stars second time round for Deborah Levy‘s “Swimming Home”. I really enjoy this style of book, or novella. Short but not all that sweet, it leaves you something to think about.

See my other reviews of books by Deborah Levy here:


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