Review - THE LOST SWIMMER, Ann Turner
Writers who take the decision to build their novels around characters who are less than sympathetic, veering towards frustrating, appear to be making one of the braver literary decisions you can come across. Needless to say Rebecca Wilding is a difficult prospect in THE LOST SWIMMER.
The central narrator, with the story told in the first person, Rebecca has the sort of mind that's difficult to spend time in. Incredibly passive and dangerously whingy she seems to almost relish the things that go wrong in her life. For somebody who is a Professor, and Head of Department she's a surprisingly easy target to set up. From the allegations of financial impropriety and fraud, to the possibility that her husband Stephen is having an affair, Rebecca seems unable to perceive danger no matter how much piles up at her door, and seems strangely unwilling to actually precipitate any sort of confrontation, or any sort of action that might resolve things.
Instead, after she, and her favoured staff in her University Department are accused of everything possible from a Dean with a chip on her shoulder and a desire to annoy everyone in range, Rebecca heads off to Greece in the hope that whilst she's over there, she can solve the conspiracy that's happening back at home, and win her husband back. Which is an interesting decision on any level, not just because at this stage she can't prove / doesn't necessarily know for sure that Stephen's actually having an affair.
The pace of the book is also teasing and languid, building pace slowly, although there could be many readers who spend the first half wondering what the point of everything is - especially as there is a lot of opportunity to pick the instigator of the frame into which Rebecca willingly walks. Where THE LOST SWIMMER really excels is in the descriptions of landscape, and sea and in some of sub-characters who were vivid and engaging.
Obviously THE LOST SWIMMER is a book that's exploring the nature of love and trust. It's uncomfortable when you're looking at a relationship from inside the head of somebody so conflicted, so fragile, so unsure particularly when on other levels she must be competent, intelligent and capable. An odd experience to read, THE LOST SWIMMER is definitely quite a conversation starter and will probably be one of those books that readers either love or hate.
Rebecca Wilding, an archaeology professor, traces the past for a living.
But suddenly, truth and certainty is turning against her. Rebecca is accused of serious fraud, and worse, she suspects – she knows – that her husband, Stephen, is having an affair.
Desperate to find answers, Rebecca leaves with Stephen for Greece, Italy and Paris, where she can uncover the conspiracy against her, and hopefully win Stephen back to her side, where he belongs. There’s too much at stake – her love, her work, her family.
But on the idyllic Amalfi Coast, Stephen goes swimming and doesn’t come back.
In a swirling daze of panic and fear, Rebecca is dealt with fresh allegations. And with time against her, she must uncover the dark secrets that stand between her and Stephen, and the deceit that has chased her halfway around the world.