Monday 6 May 2013

Book Review: Swimming at Night by Lucy Clarke.

Product details:
Publisher: Touchstone.
ebook, 384 pages.
Release date: March 12th 2013.
Rating: 4 out of 5.
Ages: Adult  
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. 


UK Edition

Swimming at Night by Lucy Clarke is published as The Sea Sisters in the UK. 
 Release date: May 9th 2013 from Harper. 


  1. Liz @ Planet Print6 May 2013 at 01:30

    I always find books about sisters really interesting as well - maybe because I don't have one! Intrigued by the dark twist too, I like not being able to guess things. Have to say I prefer the US cover a little bit more than the UK but I do like them both. Glad you enjoyed the one - thanks for the review :).

  2. I love exotic locations so I'll keep an eye out for this one, sounds good :) And thanks for pointing out the UK name, I hate when they change the book title for different countries, so confusing when you are trying to track a book down.

    BookishTrish @ Between the Lines

  3. I actually just learned about this book a few days ago and I love that its setting is exotic....that always makes for a fantastic beach read. I really like the premise and the mystery behind her sister's death, so I will definitely check out this one. Thanks for the great review, Leanna, and I am so glad you are back to blogging! :)

  4. daisychainbooks6 May 2013 at 15:14

    This book was a nice surprise. I didn't really know much at all about it before it popped up on Netgalley. The US cover has more of an 'adult' feel. When I first saw the UK cover, I thought it was YA. That said, I like both covers!

  5. daisychainbooks6 May 2013 at 15:18

    I know! Title changes are so confusing. I figured it out by chance when I was reading about the UK book edition and was like 'Hmmm...that sounds really like the book I'm reading!'

    BTW - Great to find another Irish book blogger. There aren't all that many of us around! I've added your blog to my Daily Reads so I'll be stopping by! :)

  6. daisychainbooks6 May 2013 at 15:19

    I totally replied to this comment and my reply disappeared! Well, what I was saying is that I thought the book was YA when I saw the UK cover. It's not, though!

  7. daisychainbooks6 May 2013 at 15:19

    Thanks, Christina! Me too! I think you'd really like this one! It'd be a great beach read! :)

  8. Oh I didn't know that we had a different title over here, thanks for the heads up, as I've only read brilliant reviews for this book, I know for sure that I will be getting a copy. Great review Leanna! :)

  9. Stories about sisters always speak to me because of my own sisters, but I've yet to hear of this one. It sounds sweet, too...especially with exotic locales, which is always something I look for in the books I read.

    Wonderful review, Leanna!

  10. I haven't heard of this one before Leanna but it sounds AWESOME! I love a book that's full of secrets, especially between sisters or family members, there's just something deeply intriguing about finding out you don't always know the people you thought you knew best. Definitely adding this to the list, fabulous review!

  11. Jess Hearts Books7 May 2013 at 19:35

    You know how much I love me some Emily Barr! Your comparrison has me even more excited to read this one. I hope I can get to it soon. I'm glad you enjoyed it and it's good to have you back. :)

  12. Yay! We are like an endangered species so we need to stick together!

  13. daisychainbooks8 May 2013 at 19:19

    I think you'd enjoy this one, Jenny. I didn't know much about it before I read it, so it was a great surprise! :)

  14. daisychainbooks8 May 2013 at 19:20

    Thanks, lovely! :) Think you'd enjoy this one! it'd make a good summer read!

  15. The review made me desperate to buy this book.. I have to check it out at an online bookstore..

  16. I'm reading this one now and liking it a lot :) Followed your goodreads link over here :)

    I think this def has YA crossover appeal.

    I have read two Emily Barr books (one I liked, but can hardly remember and the other one I can definitely remember but didn;t really like, haha)

    Anyway, i hope I end up loving this book -- it's definitely at least 4 stars for me so far. x Nomes

  17. Lovely review! I love stories about sisters, so I will have to check this one out. The UK edition is gorgeous!


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