This book is rather wonderful cryptic, elusive, allusive and dreamlike, and very difficult to encapsulate or describe in a meaningful review My only previous exposure to Levy was reading her most recent book Hot Milk, and this book occupies similar territory, at least superficially Both are full of symbolism and striking imagery, and share similar southern European settings, but ultimately depend on what is not said than what is Levy toys with her characters and appears to understand them better than they do themselves I won t even attempt to describe the plot, which seems almost irrelevant.
Deborah Levy is an interesting writer There is a visual quality to her work that makes the reader blink Is this a novel, or is it a film, we ask ourselves Are we reading or watching We become immobile in front of the screen of her set pieces, watching passively as the events happen before our eyes, as if in a documentary or a piece of reality TV But there is no voice over, hardly any backstory, and no linking of scenes What we see is all there is so we have to make of it what we can.
There is also a baldness to the language which serves to shake us out of our passivity from time to time The truth was her husband had the final word because he wrote words and then he put full stops at the end of them.
I thought the bluntness of the language matched well with the
I really wanted to love this book, and I did love Levy s writing, her prose is masterful conveying character, setting, and insight in small spare beautifully crafted paragraphs The entire book is quite lean a week of time, briefly, surgically told and yet there are 9 distinct, well drawn characters, each with backstory, plot and motivation Levy s craftsmanship is rich.
The problem is that the book is cold at the core The oddly comforting epilogue rings false in a book that so limpidly depicts layer upon layer of rejection, failure to connect, and selfishness The overwhelming urge that you have as a reader is to slap everyone concerned as they solipsistically labor at their own undoing Also, and importantly, a little too writerly in the end Much ado about a scribbled self important poem as clue, as suicide note, as purloined letter a father s pen penis that only a Move over, Truman Capote Holly Go Lightly has met her match and then some in Kitty Finch, the strange young botanist who insinuates herself into the vacation home rented by a renowned poet and his little family Her allure tattoos itself into the thin skin of the poet s marriage, and we root for him as he works to resist her copper coils and long limbs She insists that they share the same mindset and perhaps if not thoughts, then emotions They are in nerve contact, she insists In one of Levy s odd little metaphors, Kitty and Joe are like the boy Elliott and his Extra Terrestrial This seems absolutely crazy and yet the reader cannot look away for fear that this mad and milky stalk of a young woman may be correct In an entra This queer, disquieting novel blends a dark, surreal Topor topos with a Hollywood noir of forties vintage Taking place in 1994 over a week in a French holiday resort, the novel centres around stuttering botanist and exhibitionist depressive Kitty Finch and her interaction with a ragbag of unlikeable snobs, poets and snotty brats Like her 1995 book The Unloved, Levy creates an unpleasant world with little empathy, where language is the only refuge, where the icy shimmer of the exacting prose keeps the reader entranced The novel brought to mind This Mortal Coil s Blood For each moment of beautiful clarity, such as Mr Somewhere or With Tomorrow there are oppressive, opaque instrumentals like Andialu or Loose Joints that create a stifling atmosphere, that strain to add There s just such an entrancing quality to Deborah Levy s writing I was immediately captured by the opening chapter and knew this was going to be my kind of read Much like her other novel Hot Milk this book is brief but brimming with cryptic messages where dreams and reality mix to add to its dreamlike quality you visually feel this book Most of all I was sucked in and fell under its magical little spell.
Over the past few years, I ve found the Man Booker shortlist to be a pretty reliable source of new, interesting books I wouldn t have discovered otherwise, like 2011 s excellent Pigeon English and The Sisters Brothers, or, from 2010, Room, Andrea Levy s amazing The Long Song, and Tom McCarthy s weird but interesting C This year, however, while Bring Up the Bodies was absolutely brills, the two shortlisted works I ve read this book and The Garden of Evening Mists have been absolute Crap City I know it s only March, but this will almost definitely be the worst thing I read this year, even if I end up reading something like a Family Circus Compendium of Only Those Strips Where Jeffy Runs Around in a Circuitous Route as Opposed to a Much More Sensible Str Home Is A Subversive Page Turner, A Merciless Gaze At The Insidiuos Harm That Depression Can Have On Apparently Stable, Well Turned Out People Set In A Summer Villa, The Story Is Tautly Structured, Taking Place Over A Week In Which A Group Of Beautiful, Flawed Tourists In The French Riviera Come Loose At The SeamsShortlisted For The Man Booker Þ Swimming Home ✓ Download by Þ Deborah Levy Prize 3.
5 Not quite sure what to make of this little gem of a book A holiday, characters that are on course for a terrific crash of some sort, the insidious nature of depression all meet in this tightly structured, brilliantly worded novel Every word, every scene means something, nothing is wasted Strange but rather brilliant at the same time Didn t quite manage to like it, but did admire it and the ending was not at all was I thought it was going to be The tension in the novel is palpable and at times downright unconformable So, so glad my holidays are not at all like this one.