ebook, 384 pages.
Release date: March 12th 2013.
Rating: 4 out of 5.
Source: Received for review via Netgalley.
A young woman travels the globe to retrace the final months of her sister’s life in search of answers about her death in this dark, gripping debut novel of family, secrets, and loss. Katie’s world is shattered by the news that her headstrong and bohemian younger sister, Mia, has been found dead at the bottom of a cliff in Bali. The authorities say that Mia had jumped—that her death was a suicide.
Although they hadn’t spoken to one another since Mia suddenly left on an around-the-world trip six months earlier, Katie refuses to accept that her sister would have taken her own life. Distraught that they never made peace, Katie leaves behind her orderly, sheltered life in London and embarks on a journey to find out the truth. With only the entries of Mia’s tattered travel journal as her guide, Katie retraces the last few months of her sister’s life, and—page by page, country by country—begins to uncover the mystery surrounding her death…
Weaving together the exotic settings and suspenseful twists of Alex Garland’s The Beach with a powerful tale of familial love in the spirit of Rosamund Lupton’s Sister, Swimming at Night is a fast-paced, accomplished, and gripping debut.
An accomplished debut that delves deep into the secrets of sisterhood, Swimming at Night by Lucy Clarke combines compelling storytelling with exotic locations for a truly page-turning read
Katie hasn’t spoken to her younger sister Mia in months when she learns that Mia has died in Bali. The verdict, according to the police, is suicide. But Katie instinctively knows that’s not true. Sure, Mia was wildly irresponsible and prone to doing the extreme in life –after all, she embarked on a round-the-world trip on not a lot of money and a total whim- but she wasn’t depressed. If Katie is sure of one thing, then it’s that her sister had an unquenchable thirst for life. The sisters may not have been close, but after her death Katie is determined to find out the truth about Mia. For a start, Mia wasn’t meant to be in Bali – so what was she doing there when she died, and who was she with – because she wasn’t with her travel companion and best friend, Finn.
A tale of familial breaks, bonds and betrayals follows, as Katie, with the help of Mia’s travel journal, and thus her narration, steps away from her London life and her fiancé, Ed, in order to find out the truth about her sisters death by retracing Mia’s steps from beginning to disastrous detour end.
Stories about sisters always make compelling reading – especially when they’re well executed, which is the case here. Katie and Mia may have loved each other, but their sisterly rivalry knew no bounds, always bubbling right under the surface until it inevitably exploded time and time again. Katie has always been the responsible, sensible sister – she had to be, because Mia was anything but. And she’s always been a little resentful of Mia for that, while through her journal we discover that Mia had her own issues with Katie – and that on-a-whim round the world trip – it wasn’t all just for fun. As Katie soon finds out, her little sister had a whole lot of secrets.
Swimming at Night reminded me somewhat of Emily Barr’s novels. Like Barr’s novels Clarke’s combines exotic locations with strong characterization and a dash of mystery and romance. For me, Barr’s novels have always been great summer reads and I can see Swimming at Night being a similar summer hit with readers who like their summer reads sometimes frothy but with a dark and bitter twist.
Swimming at Night by Lucy Clarke is published as The Sea Sisters in the UK.
Release date: May 9th 2013 from Harper.