Book at Bedtime on BBC Radio 4
BBC Radio 4, 27 February - 2 March 2012
It's 1994, and Jacob and Isabel are on holiday in the South of France with their daughter Nina. Their peace and tranquility is interrupted by the unexpected appearance of Kitty Finch, a young woman who appears to have some connection with Jacob, but refuses to explain why.
Kitty is frequently seen either bathing or walking naked close to the swimming pool. This serves as a metaphor for Levy's novel, which lays bare the secrets - both past and present - lurking at the heart of Jacob's, Isabel's and Nina's lives. All three of them repress certain elements within their psyches, in the belief that they are too unpleasant to contemplate. Kitty's presence forces them to confront such elements: for one family member at least, this task becomes too difficult to endure.
Swimming Home is full of symbols summing up the characters' existences: Kitty writes a poem, in which the words "et cetera" frequently crop up, as if she cannot (or will not) find a way to express the inexpressible; on several other occasions she is associated with water, signifying the passage of time. What happened in the past can neither be forgotten nor rectified.
This aspect of the novel was underlined in Juliet Aubrey's reading: while she broadly sympathized with the characters' emotional struggles, her tone hardened as she described how they tried - and failed - to suppress anything unpalatable.
The director of this haunting Book at Bedtime was Elizabeth Allard.