If you remember the splendid novel In Falling Show by this talented author, you will want to read this newest work. The setting is as little later, mid-20s, than the earlier work, proving again that this story-teller can evoke a period as well as she can tell a tale. Again there is a small element of truth in the work not that she would ever allow that to get in the way of a good narrative. In the 20s women did not learn to swim, it was not ladylike, and certainly not acceptable in polite society. Fifteen-year old Catherine did not know this during her childhood in the Torres Strait Islands, so it came as an enormous shock when, upon her father’s untimely death, she was taken to London by her aunt, Dr Louisa Quick. You see “for Catherine the sea wasn’t swimming, it was home.” Busy at her medical clinic, which she had established after she returned from service in a hospital outside Paris during 1914-1918, Louisa did not fully appreciate the depth of Catherine’s longing for the water, until a drama unfolded at the posh school to which Louisa had unwisely sent her niece. Because of this daring, foolhardy swim across the Thames, Catherine came under the notice of a wealthy American, who wanted her to train in the States, and then to tackle the English Channel. Unheard of! Scandalous! Impossible! Circumstances lead to Louisa and Catherine both travelling to New York, and the rest is not quite history. It could not be of course, but this talented writer makes sure that the reader’s interest is maintained throughout. As the only family Catherine had known in the Torres Strait make their presence felt across the world, anything could happen. Not surprisingly, it did! The last few pages are filled with confessions, revelations, and resolutions which will astonish. SWIMMING HOME is a gripping story, and one which will appeal to men and women alike champions always do.
SWIMMING HOME by Mary ROSE MacCOLL
PUBLISHED by ALLEN & UNWIN for a recommended $29.99