By Deborah Levy
And Other Stories, 2011
There is always a title that gives a different, odd look at something ordinary; in this case a holiday. The oddity comes in the form of the girl who was found swimming in the pool. The work itself though, is far from odd. Cleverly written, in a fast paced manner, it poses all the questions that one should expect from a Booker Prize shortlisted book.
I had no reason at all to disbelieve any of the characters, situations or the plot line at all, but it is also fair to say that the reactions of family members surely wouldn’t be the same as if it happened on our holiday. Would they? But it remains a page turner. It deals with issues that we perhaps prefer not to bring into the open, but it does do this with a sharp sense of humour and in a light fashion.
Depression, and all the effects it has on someone, and the immediate circle of family and friends becomes the main thrust of the story, but it is easy to get embroiled without realising it and then finding yourself in a tangled web with all the characters.
Why does Isobel, the wife, allow Kitty to remain after being found in the pool? And what is the significance of Kitty’s determination to have her work read by Joe, the husband and published poet? When the inclusions of the issues concerning Isobel’s friend, Laura and her husband Mitchell are explored, then the simple plot line takes a decidedly twisted turn. The last component for the story, their next door neighbour and the local villa caretaker, with their tale involvement the book transforms from a mundane idea into a book worthy of its place on the 2012 list.
Not the longest of stories, I read it in two sittings, it is a book that you will not want to put down, for fear of missing the next bit, and also from fear of losing the plot. It is very much a book to pick up for the quality value, and in my opinion, a fabulous tale of love found and lost, illness ignored and acknowledged and ordinariness with bizarreness thrown in for good measure. I want to call it a good yarn, but it is much better and cleverer than that. I am looking forward to reading more from this author.
BookerBookBloke verdict 7/10
Why not try my short tale about the life of Florence Nightingale on:
or spend the last evening alive with Guy Fawkes on: