The Swimmer

by Roma Tearne | Literature & Fiction |
ISBN: 000730157X Global Overview for this book
Registered by wingApoloniaXwing of Prenzlauer Berg, Berlin Germany on 1/28/2011
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3 journalers for this copy...
Journal Entry 1 by wingApoloniaXwing from Prenzlauer Berg, Berlin Germany on Friday, January 28, 2011
A gripping, captivating novel about love, loss and what home really means. Forty-three year old Ria is used to being alone. As a child, her life changed forever with the death of her beloved father and since then, she has struggled to find love.That is, until she discovers the swimmer. Ben is a young illegal immigrant from Sri Lanka who has arrived in Norfolk via Moscow. Awaiting a decision from the Home Office on his asylum application, he is discovered by Ria as he takes a daily swim in the river close to her house. He is twenty years her junior and theirs is an unconventional but deeply moving romance, defying both boundaries and cultures -- and the xenophobic residents of Orford. That is, until tragedy occurs. (amazon)
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Like Roma Tearne's other novels this one also deals mainly with the topics migration, loss, and identity. It is an incredibly sad book, at the same time so very beautiful, written in a poetic style. I liked the division into three parts, each told from a different perspective, a different protagonist - three women, each with her own distinct voice.
Highly recommendable!

Released 10 yrs ago (1/29/2011 UTC) at The Old Shades Pub, Whitehall in City of Westminster, Greater London United Kingdom

WILD RELEASE NOTES:

Meet-up release!
Happy reading!

Journal Entry 3 by wingkiwiinenglandwing at Covent Garden, Greater London United Kingdom on Sunday, January 30, 2011
Passed on to me by ApoloniaX when we were both visiting London. Thanks for the book, I look forward to reading it

Journal Entry 4 by wingkiwiinenglandwing at Covent Garden, Greater London United Kingdom on Monday, July 11, 2011
The writing style of this book is beautiful, and some sentences left me awed.

This story is told in three parts, with each written in the first person from a different woman's point of view. I found it unsatisfying that the first two sections, which make up nearly 90% of the book, are too similar in tone. A 43 year old English woman and a 50 year old Tamil woman with very different life styles/experiences "talk"/react in the same way. It got rather dull. I did enjoy the third woman's voice though, you could tell it was a different person.

The minor characters created were, at times, just too uncomplicated and too black and white. The male journalist was nasty, the people in the waiting room of the immigration department in London were submissive and brow beaten while the staff were totally inhumane and unhelpful. The lack of nuance meant I didn't find it believable.

The story has a direct parallel to an incident that actually happened in Britain a few years ago, and I feel the author is trying to tell a story that counteracts some of the more right wing press reports on asylum seekers. Unfortunately in the final section Lydia has a sentence that is so over the top, along the lines of people getting killed by professional squads as soon as they step off a plane, that the author tries to argue against extreme actions with extremism.

Overall I was frustrated with this book. The author’s writing style was lovely, but the story didn’t hang together.

Journal Entry 5 by wingkiwiinenglandwing at Manchester, Greater Manchester United Kingdom on Friday, July 29, 2011

Released 9 yrs ago (7/30/2011 UTC) at Manchester, Greater Manchester United Kingdom

CONTROLLED RELEASE NOTES:




This was chosen from the Intercultural VBB. I hope you enjoy this story more than I did.

Journal Entry 6 by wingsoffitta1wing at Ávila, Ávila Spain on Monday, August 08, 2011
Thanks for sending me this!
I read Brixton Beach a wee while ago, so was keen to search out more of her work, then it turned up in a virtual bookbox. Serendipity?!

The Swimmer deals with a lonely poet living in Suffolk who falls for a visitor to her river. Unfortunately the peace of the countryside has been shattered by a series of grizzly animal killings. Suspicion falls on immigrants, fuelling the fire of the Far Right.

Ria is a forty-something virtual recluse living in her aunt and uncle's house in the countryside in Suffolk. Divorced and estranged from her brother, Ria lives a lonely, but peaceful life as she tries to finish her latest anthology. She has suffered a lot, with the premature death of her beloved father, unable to properly grieve as her family preferred to keep their stiff upper lip. Unsurprisingly, there is a lot of resentment. Her younger brother is a bully prone to mood swings, and he is especially unhappy that Ria won't sell the house, and thus is depriving him of his share of the cash.

Ben is the titular swimmer, an illegal immigrant working locally while he waits for his paperwork to come through. He travelled all the way from war-torn Sri Lanka in the hope of a better life. His life is like many immigrants, working as a labourer despite being highly educated, and missing home all the while.

Ria notices that food in her house is missing and at first blames the cleaner until, one night, she sees Ben swimming across the river at the bottom of her property. The unlikely pair strike up a friendship, the lonely poet and the foreign farmhand. Both are educated and artistic, she writes while he plays the piano. They seem to fill a void in each other's life, a connection than transcends age or nationality.

If life were simple, then the book would end here, but their idyll is threatened by Ria's brother and the unsolved crimes. As you read, you hope for peace for the characters, for themselves, but making peace with the past is easier said than done.

I did enjoy The Swimmer, with its topical themes and almost local setting (my parents live across the water in Essex). Tearne has tapped into East Anglian life, a region where tensions between migrant workers and locals are running high. The scare-mongering is present in the papers, even more so since 7/7, which is part of the setting of Brixton Beach, ignorance colliding with fear. The only drawback of the book is a bit of a rushed ending, while the reader appreciates the closure the ending brings, I was left wanting more.

Reserved for a friend.

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