Book Club: The Lost Swimmer

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Author: Ann Turner
ISBN: 978-19-250-3086-0
RRP: $29.99

The Lost Swimmer is the debut novel of Australian author Ann Turner, who is also an award-winning screenwriter and director.

Rebecca Wilding is an archeology professor and head of her department at Coastal University. The economic climate is affecting everyone and it seems no-one’s job is secure. Rebecca is having issues with the Dean of Arts, Priscilla, but she is not the only one; it seems all the department Heads are having issues with her.

Something isn’t quite right at home either, Rebecca is certain her husband is having an affair. She may not have proof but she knows him well enough to know that he’s hiding something.

If this isn’t enough to deal with Rebecca also finds herself accused of serious fraud.

Rebecca and Stephen both have conference commitments overseas in the semester break so have made it into a holiday in which Rebecca hopes they can reconnect.

Turner explores the slippery slope we find ourselves on when trust is compromised and secrets are kept. It has often been said that those who mistrust are often the ones with something to hide… so if Rebecca is so determined that something is going on with Stephen, even though she has no proof, what does that say about what’s going on with her?

There was a lot going on in The Lost Swimmer so there were lots of different threads and possibilities. My mind was ticking the entire time I was reading, trying to work out how it all ties together and if it’s all a part of the same larger issue.

The Wildings live on the coast of Victoria and the entire family are lovers of the sea, except that Rebecca doesn’t swim for reasons that will be uncovered in due time. Stephen on the other hand is a strong swimmer.

Their holiday is planned to take them through lots of the places they have loved as a couple and a family as well as places that Rebecca has worked. Now that their children are grown Rebecca can take Stephen to the digs she has worked through the years and introduce him to colleagues that he never had the chance to meet. It’s also a bonus that they will be near the location the fraud allegations stem from so Rebecca plans to do some investigating of her own.

The scenery and locations that Turner has chosen are divine. They are atmospheric, picturesque and gorgeously described. I have never traveled, and never really been bitten by the travel bug, but to see the Amalfi coast and the history of Greece through Turner’s eyes had me longing for blue skies and bluer seas. Her love of history shines through in Rebecca’s passion for the past.

It is a sad situation if, when life spirals out of control, you can’t turn to the one you promised yourself to for life. At first you simply don’t mention it because there’s other stuff going on, that I can understand. But then to actively try and keep it from the one you love? Not quite so understandable. The lies stack up, the hole gets deeper and you just lose the ability to claw yourself out. It’s even worse when both partners in a marriage are caught up in their own web of deceit, where does it end and is there any way of coming back from that?

the lost swimmer

I found the book to be compelling reading but it wasn’t fast paced, there was a lot going on and it unfolded slowly. Stephen didn’t disappear until halfway through the story but there were enough other threads to keep us going.

I’m not really touching on the characterisation in the novel because I’m not quite sure how I feel about the characters at the moment. Their behaviours needed to be as they were for the story to flow the way it did but I can’t decide how I feel about them.

The Lost Swimmer had some predictability but there were a lot of things I just didn’t see coming, and even now I am left with questions because the end was not what I expected.

The Lost Swimmer is a captivating debut filled with suspense, where everything and everyone become suspicious. It will definitely get you thinking, and I am finding that it doesn’t end when you close the book.

The Lost Swimmer is available now from Simon & Schuster and where all good books are sold.

You can find Ann Turner on her Website and Facebook.

The Lost Swimmer is Book #32 for the Australian Women Writer’s Challenge 2015.

20 of our lucky readers are also reading The Lost Swimmer and their reviews will appear below in the comments. Please be advised that there may be spoilers.

21 thoughts on “Book Club: The Lost Swimmer

  1. Firstly, thanks as always to Beauty and Lace for the chance to review.
    I have just finished reading The Lost Swimmer, and my review is as follows:
    The Lost Swimmer has an interesting storyline, with deception and secrets throughout. I found it to be a bit slow in the beginning, it took me a little while until it had my full attention; and the ending was too abrupt and with too many unanswered questions, which I didn’t like at all. Even though I wasn’t expecting/predicting a happy ending, but it just left me wandering too many things.
    I did like Ann’s descriptions of the European countries in the book; they really painted a visual feast for me in my mind.
    I couldn’t connect with either Stephen or Rebecca’s characters, and even though the story is told from Rebecca’s perspective, I couldn’t sympathise a lot with her for reasons I still can’t figure out.
    The title is very clever and can be interpreted in more ways than one.
    It did have some scenarios that were really captivating but then other parts were a bit slow.
    I’d be curious to see what Ann’s next book will be about as this was her debut novel, and hopefully the next one will be a bit more intriguing and a better ending to it too.
    I’d rate this book about a 5 out of 10.

  2. Thank you Beauty and Lace for the Lost Swimmer.

    If you enjoy mystery with lots of twists and turn, then this book would be a great read for you.

    I really enjoyed reading this book. This book tells the story of Rebecca who is archaeology professor. Rebecca’s husband Stephen is a professor of Economics. They have a lovely house in the coastline and two older children living their own lives in the city.

    However, all is not perfect. A department head at work is making Rebecca’s life difficult and a serious case of fraud has been uncovered for which Rachel is under investigation. Rebecca is also worried that her husband is husband is making bad investments on the stock market and is having an affair.

    Rebecca and Stephen then go on a summer conference trip to Greece and Italy. On the way to the conference, Rebecca starts digging about to find out who has framed her for fraud. In Greece, she finds some answer. Then in Italy her husband goes swimming and disappears. Rebecca is now the prime suspect in his disappearance and the fraud investigation.

    Rebecca must now uncover who is framing her and why.

    The book is a great read, the characters are easy to connect with and there is plenty of twists and turns in this book. The locations are described beautifully and its makes this book come to life.

  3. I enjoyed this novel by first time author and thought it was very entertaining. I moved quickly thorough the pages as I wanted to learn what was happening in the world of Rebecca after awful circumstances.
    The story kept surprising with learning the mistakes characters had made in their lives (something many of us can relate to) and I like how descriptive the author was when Rebecca was in Italy & Greece. As I have never been to Europe, I imagined it to be picturesque and this memory of the novel will stay with me forever. Ended interesting too, something I wasn’t expecting which was how the novel felt to me, it keep me in the guessing.

  4. The Lost Swimmer

    The Lost Swimmer is the debut novel from author Ann Turner. The Lost Swimmer tells the story of Rebecca Wilding, an Archaeologist and her husband Stephen, an Economist. Although she seems to have a successful career, have raised two children and is about to throw a surprise 50th party for her husband we soon learns that not all is right in Rebecca’s life. Turner makes mysterious references to Stephen having an affair with one of his colleagues. This is all speculation on behalf of Rebecca, but as a reader I was convinced he was up to no good. Rebecca is accused of fraudulent behaviour through her work and the reader is yet again drawn into trying to resolve the puzzle that Turner has created between Rebecca’s home and work life.

    Rebecca and Stephen head off from their beachside home in Geelong, Australia to the beautiful coastline of Greece, Italy and then Paris. Like Rebecca, I became convinced that Stephen was deceiving his wife and sleeping with his co-worker and that he was also trying to set his wife up for fraud and run away to Europe with his new lover. I read the story eagerly waiting for Turner to unravel some key questions: Why was he having an affair? Why did he use his wife and steal the money? Why was he dabbling in the stock markets and being secretive about it? I couldn’t wait for all to be revealed.

    Unfortunately, Turner never completely answered these questions for the reader. Stephen ended up drowning while in Athens and left many unanswered questions dangling for the reader. The fraud plot, which dominated the story reached an anti-climax when it was discovered that Rebecca’s greedy and bitter colleague was behind the scheme the whole time and it was just left at that. Turner jumps quite quickly between key parts of the story yet at the same time the plot is drawn out and slow, missing the point of the parts story line.
    Water plays a key theme in the story and as the name suggests there are many references to swimming and an underlying message of remaining strong in the turbulence of a current. We soon learn that Rebecca lost her Father in a drowning incident and then it becomes evident that this was also her husband’s fate. Turner used lots of descriptive language and painted beautiful pictures of both the European and Australia coast line which were central to the stories themes.

    Overall I enjoyed reading The Lost Swimmer even though the ending was a bit disappointing. Turner writes beautiful throughout and creates characters that the reader can empathise with. A perfect beach time read!

  5. Thankyou Beauty & Lace for this fantastic opportunity to read the Debut novel The Lost Swimmer by Ann Turner. Very well written, you get to know the characters very well. Was not actually sure by the title of this book what it would lead to, but it’s a very apt title. It has you guessing all the way through the book. I don’t wish to give too much away but a very enjoyable read I must say. Looking forward to any future novels that Ann Turner may pen.

  6. Firstly I’d like to thank Beauty and Lace and also Simon and Schuster for giving me the delightful opportunity to review The Lost Swimmer, by Ann Turner, I am forever grateful.

    Ann Turners debut novel; The Lost Swimmer was an interesting read. The main character, Rebecca Wildling seems to be living the perfect life; she has a beautiful house on the coastline and a loving husband.

    Although, later in the book it is revealed that her life isn’t quite as perfect as it seems. Events transpire and the story unravels as Rebecca’s work is making cuts and she has suspicion that her husband, Stephen, is having an affair… On top of that Dean of Arts, Priscilla, has made complaints against Rebecca and she has a hunch that Priscilla is the woman Stephen is having an affair with.

    The “good” and “bad” characters were established early in the book and their feelings towards each other were predictable. The characters are described in a way that matches their personality and it is easy to guess what their effect on the plot will be.

    Turners plot and story line was very well written but slow paced it took a while for the storyline to get moving, I found that the description in the book was a little too much, sometimes using a paragraph to describe something that should only be described with one or two sentences.

    Lastly The Lost Swimmer is a lovely novel that I would recommend anyone who loves page turners, even though this one is a little slow paced at the start. Overall I believe that Turner did a great job on her first novel and I’d love to see more of her work to come.

  7. I read this book over one weekend and found it to be an interesting read, I am quite impressed with this author of her first novel and look forward to more to come.
    There were quite a lot of twists and turns and the ending was not what I was expecting. I enjoyed the different characters in the book

  8. The Lost Swimmer by Ann Turner has a calm beginning to it and the storytelling is unique and grabed my attention and hooked me in. The way Ann writes gave me a clear images to painting a picture in my head about what was going on and where. There were different storylines mixing together.. and It was like being in a rollercoaster anticipating that gut-dropping feeling associated with the ride. I knew the twists and turns were there but I didn’t how soon or how later in the book They would appear. Overall this book was great read with exotic places, gripping plots and characters that take you on an emotional journey.

  9. I’m so pleased that Michelle kept following up on where my book had gone as it didn’t arrive when it should have – I really, really enjoyed the book. I can well see why Ann Turner is an award winning screenwriter! It is completely unnecessary to go over the plot again as it has been covered well above.

    The novel is unusual in that we know what will happen before we start reading and this should have spoilt the story – but it didn’t. The characters were “real” and believable and woven into the story so that even though you knew the plot, the way the plot was played out was with twists and turns and believable. I wanted to keep reading but didn’t want the book to end!

    The descriptions of the beautiful items in the museums and the scenery were done so that you felt you could really “see” what the characters were seeing. The reverence with which Rebecca saw beautiful items in her archaeology work was fitting and lovely.

    I’m definitely going to be looking with interest and anticipation for Ann Turner’s new novels. In my opinion she has a style that is easy flowing and totally readable that will continue to appeal.

    I felt that the ending was excellent. Knowing that Rebecca is innocent of serious fraud there were times when you wondered if she’d be able to prove her innocence. The ending tied everything together in a most satisfactory way. The sub plots were well handled too, with the gorgeous dog being so protective.

    All in all, a great read that will appeal to a wide audience. Thank you so much to Michelle and Simon and Schuster for making sure I eventually received my copy. I do appreciate your efforts.

  10. Thank-you Beauty & Lace for the opportunity to review this book.

    While I enjoyed some parts of the book, there were others that left me feeling a little confused and unsatisfied. Overall the storyline was okay, but the flow of the story wasn’t smooth, while reading I sometimes felt like things were dragged out and others were quickly skipped over just so they were there. I’d worked out the majority of the ending just over half way through the book, although quite a few unanswered questions were left.

    As a whole, I did enjoy this book, but probably won’t pick it up to read it again. It will be interesting to see where Ann Turner goes with her next book and see her development into a novelist.

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