“The Night Swimmer” is a beautifully written novel that tells the story of Fred and Elly and their undertaking in moving to Ireland when they win a pub. It’s a new adventure for them and they dive into it head-long without much thought. Fred is thrilled with the pub and Elly is free to indulge her own passion—swimming in the ocean. Through a genetic defect, Elly is able to swim in cold water without any adverse affects for quite a long time.
While Fred submerges himself in learning how to run a pub in Baltimore and writing his ever-elusive novel, Elly finds herself taking the ferry to Clear Island on a regular basis to swim. She befriends only a few. Most of the locals do not like strangers, and they ignore her, but some seem to keep track of her swimming in their waters. There are a number of interesting characters on Clear Island, a decades old tragedy that no one will speak of, and an enigmatic goat farmer who seems to have a running feud with the Corrigans, a powerful family who runs most of the island commerce and the ferry service to and from the mainland.
The author does an excellent job of keeping to Elly’s viewpoint. I could feel her anguish when her marriage begins to unravel and her hurt feelings when the locals shun her. I enjoyed reading most of the story. However, I did find some things either not explained at all or that they were so subtle that I found myself wondering what just happened especially surrounding the climatic events on Clear Island. I feel like I missed something important, but just couldn’t put my finger on it. I found this frustrating and for that reason, I’ve not rated this novel as high as I would have liked.
Copy provided by Goldberg McDuffie, New York