‘Levy is a master at capturing complex ideas in a sentence or two, leaving the reader to move swiftly through the text’ – Swimming Home by Deborah Levy

I might have mentioned before that I’m a fan of bonkers characters and their odd perceptions of the world that adds a uniqueness to their voice and the story, and Levy has produced a glorious one here.

Kitty Finch is the madwoman here, found by one of the characters, Joe, a night before she follows him back to his holiday home, which he is sharing with his wife and daughter and another couple, their friends. The situation is already fraught between the couples, with Joe the poet and his war reporter wife Isabel, and their friends Mitchell and Laura run a business selling primitive weaponry as souvenirs. Mitchell finds them pretentious and uses restrained violence to stop Joe talking when he annoys him. The appearance of a naked Kitty upsets the balance of an already tense situation, pushing everyone to the limit as she tests them and their neighbour.

Joe and Isabel’s marriage is crumbling when Kitty appears, wanting Joe to read her poem, ‘Swimming Home’. There are plenty of connections between Kitty and Joe, their depression, their writing and their over-analysis of things. Kitty is the epitome of male fantasy with the way she looks and behaves, while Isabel is a complete contrast. This is a woman who has been to war zones and has had to fight for her own survival on several occasions. She is broken and needs time to scoop herself up and put her back together. The vulnerability in Kitty is something she can see in herself, except she has strived to be everything society tells her to be – mother, career woman, wife, but is failing at her goals. She tries to control her familiar world, tries to secure it which ultimately fails.

The tensions are superbly written as are Kitty’s observations. Levy is a master at capturing complex ideas in a sentence or two, leaving the reader to move swiftly through the text. She writes from different characters, giving us different insights into an extremely uncomfortable holiday.

Any Cop?: A superb book and well worth reading this autumn.

 

Claire Snook


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