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Learning To Swim

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While we get to glimpse this family from the outside, we also see into the life of Abigail and her family. If you are new to this author I strongly recommend "In a Good Light" as well as "Small Pleasures" instead. She has since written eight further novels, including Learning to Swim (Century 1998) which won the Romantic Novelists' Association best novel award and was adapted as a Radio 4 play, and In a Good Light (Century 2004) which was longlisted for the Whitbread best novel prize. Some of the experiences of working for an eccentric, independent publisher in the pre-digital era found their way into her novel The Editor's Wife (Century, 2007).

I was surprised when I found out this book had originally been published in 1998 as it felt like it could have been written this year - always the sign of a good read! Abigail thought she'd banished the ghost of her life with them and the catastrophe that ended it, but thirteen years later a chance encounter forces her to acknowledge that the spell is far from broken . In due course she went on to become a fiction and non-fiction editor there herself, until leaving to raise a family and concentrate on her own writing.In 1999, her novel Learning to Swim won the Romantic Novel of the Year Award by the Romantic Novelists' Association. Payments made using National Book Tokens are processed by National Book Tokens Ltd, and you can read their Terms and Conditions here. Abigail Jex never expected to see any of the Radley household again, and thought that she'd banished the ghost of her life with them, and the catastrophe that ended it, but thirteen years later, a chance encounter forces her to acknowledge that the spell is far from broken. Overall I really enjoyed it and would recommend it if you’re looking for a read that will take you back to navigating teenage friendships and family life.

As she becomes more deeply enmeshed within the Radley family, things take an unfortunate turn coinciding with a shocking discovery about her own family.The 103 third parties who use cookies on this service do so for their purposes of displaying and measuring personalized ads, generating audience insights, and developing and improving products. It’s a story about individuality, family secrets and contrasting upbringings, and I can’t recommend it enough. The characters live through the consequences of every random and deliberate decision they have made.

And some of the cultural references seemed not to match the time setting: I assume the first part of the story was set in the 1970s but some of it seemed more typical of the 1950s/60s. It is a great examination of how the decisions we made, and the people we meet, in our teenage years can shape our future (and of how things don't always turn out as we expect). The themes are also similar: growing up, eccentric hippy parents, an older brother and some tragic events. I did see a couple of the mini twists coming but that took little away from a thoroughly enjoyable book.In dramatic contrast to her own conventional family, the Radleys were extraordinary, captivating creatures transplanted from a bohemian corner of North London to out suburbia, and the young Abigail found herself drawn into their magic circle. In the present day section too, there seemed to be more going on than was likely - a motor cycle accident, a fire. It’s a tribute to the butterfly effect - what major consequences and echoes can be produced by a series of minor events in the past. The book is set in London and revolves around Abigail and her friendship with Frances who come from very different families. She has a talent for creating characters who are not only lifelike and eccentric, but immensely believable, and who have stayed with me long after I closed the book.

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