Book Review: The Night Swimmer
The Night Swimmer
By: Matt Bondurant
Published By: Scribner (January 10, 2012)
Buy it at Amazon
Source: Provided by Publisher
There are so many elements to this book that I'm going to valiantly attempt to get them all.
I was blown away by the prose of this novel. It was lyrical and flowing, which is fitting since the main character, Elly, is a swimmer. Another eye catching, and initially off-putting, was the way the author doesn't use quotation marks to denote conversations. I did get used to it, and once you really get into the swing of it, it makes sense and flows very well - The story is coming from Elly's POV, and it's a retelling. She's recounting her life with her husband Fred, about the drastic life changes they make after 9/11, in which Fred has narrowly missed being in one of the towers. Fred wins a pub in Ireland, and they leave their previous lives to pursue dreams of a meaningful life. Much like swimming in the ocean Elly loves, their little slice of Ireland is full of hidden things and mysterious figures: There is the clan who lays claim to the island and has a serious dislike of "blow-ins" and a seemingly frail goat farmer, an island tragedy no one will speak of, there is an otherworldly goat, (look I know how it sounds, but its good. Trust me. I know my goats) suspicious deaths and bully tactics, all wrapped in Ireland's mystical setting. Elly has to find herself before the harsh land and turbulent sea swallow her up whole, as Fred gets even more lost. The drift between the two is palpable, and heart wrenching.
The writing is intense, lush and beautiful. I highly recommend it to any and all, especially if you want a change of pace. There's nothing else quite like The Night Swimmer.
The Night Swimmer, Matt Bondurant’s utterly riveting modern gothic novel of marriage and belonging, confirms his gift for storytelling that transports and enthralls.
In a small town on the southern coast of Ireland, an isolated place only frequented by fishermen and the occasional group of bird-watchers, Fred and Elly Bulkington, newly arrived from Vermont having won a pub in a contest, encounter a wild, strange land shaped by the pounding storms of the North Atlantic, as well as the native resistance to strangers. As Fred revels in the life of a new pubowner, Elly takes the ferry out to a nearby island where anyone not born there is called a “blow-in.” To the disbelief of the locals, Elly devotes herself to open-water swimming, pushing herself to the limit and crossing unseen boundaries that drive her into the heart of the island’s troubles—the mysterious tragedy that shrouds its inhabitants and the dangerous feud between an enigmatic farmer and a powerful clan that has no use for outsiders.