Swimming Lessons by Claire Fuller. 350 pages
Twelve years ago, Ingrid Coleman disappeared, leaving behind her husband, Gil, and two daughters, Nan and Flora. Now, Gil thinks he sees Ingrid from a bookshop window. However, he's getting older and his unlikely sighting of her is chalked up to senility. In his pursuit of her, Gil takes a nasty tumble, bringing both daughters home to care for him. Flora, who has never believed that her mother was dead, is determined to find out what happened to Ingrid and believes the answer lies within the piles and stacks of books that Gil has collected over the years.
In fact, Ingrid Coleman wrote letters to Gil about the truth of their marriage. However, instead of giving the letters to him, she hid them in the thousands of books he collected over the years. When she wrote her final letter, she disappeared.
I found this to be an interesting book, even though I really didn't like the characters that much. Learning about Ingrid and her life with Gil through all of the letters is an interesting way to read a book. It helps that the letters are written in first person, with dialogue and all. Going back and forth with the present day, with Flora at the house, and into the past, through Ingrid's letters, the author paints a pretty clear picture of Ingrid and Gil's life. Their life also explains a bit about why Nan and Flora are the way they are, which I found interesting.
The book is beautifully written and I feel like this is what makes it a good read. I can accept the fact that the characters aren't likable because I enjoy reading the story, and I'm curious about what's going to happen. The writing didn't quite mitigate the irritation I started to feel with Ingrid (and also with Flora), but I kept reading until the very end. I think this book would make for an interesting book group selection, just because I think people would have some different opinions about the characters and the story.