The backstory: Swimming Home is on the 2012 Booker Prize shortlist.
The basics: This novella explores the life of Kitty, a beautiful, deeply troubled young botanist with a passion for poetry. Set in a summer cottage on the French Riviera in July 1994, Kitty enchants Joe, a famous poet, who is vacationing with his wife, teenage daughter, and a couple of friends.
My thoughts: From the first line of this novel, "When Kitty Finch took her hand off the steering wheel and told him she loved him, he no loner knew if she was threatening him or having a conversation," I was enchanted by both Levy's prose and these haunted, curious characters. Levy's crisp, precise prose paints vivid pictures of both the characters and setting. This novella is slight only in pages, but it packs an incredible literary and emotional punch.
This novella was a page turner. Levy wowed me with the tightness and beauty of her prose in every single sentence. Rarely do I want to re-read a novel, but the combination of language and story in this novel is a rare delicacy.
The verdict: There's a startling intimacy to this novel and its characters. As a reader, I was unsettled as a voyeur witnessing the tragedies unfold in the lives of these tender, haunted characters, but I also loved every word, punctuation mark and sentence. Levy has written a masterpiece, and it's utterly deserving of this year's Booker Prize.
Rating: 5 out of 5
Length: 157 pages
Publication date: October 11, 2011
Source: interlibrary loan
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