The Night Swimmer
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"An attention-getting story of strangers in a strange land . . ."
Into the lives of Fred and Elly Bulkington we go, a young couple from New England (Vermont to be precise) who move to Ireland in order to take over a Pub called, Nightjar, that they won in a contest. The Pub is located in a very isolated spot on the Southern Coast of Ireland that is only frequented by birdwatchers and fishermen. And once the couple arrives, readers soon learn why this is one of the most desolate places on the planet.
Fred and Elly met as graduate students while studying in English Lit. Fred’s dream is to become a novelist, and Elly wants nothing more than to be an ‘open’ or deep-water swimmer. This area of Ireland where they end up offers one truly seductive attribute for Elly – magnificent isolation filled with endless water for her to practice for her dream. In fact, the area would seem to satisfy the dreams of both, seeing as that Fred could spend his ‘down time’ working on becoming the next ‘great author.’
At one point in time, however, Fred tells Elly that they remind him of the couple who fell in love in the book, “Revolutionary Road.” Therefore, readers can at once feel the chemistry and trials that the characters will be going through. Of course, Fred also says, with a confidence he doesn’t really have: “We will actually make it; we will follow through and make it happen.”
So as Fred begins running his brand new enterprise, Elly takes a trip to a nearby island where every outsider is referred to as a “blow-in.” The locals really can’t figure out why she would even want to swim in the open ocean as Elly pushes herself to the limit of her abilities. And soon, a mysterious tragedy is brought to light that involves a feud between a farmer and a very powerful clan that has no use for strangers.
As Elly’s swimming begins to take over her life and Fred becomes extraordinarily busy with trying to run the Pub, write a novel, and attempt to spend some time with his wife – the couple soon find themselves being absorbed into the lives of the locals. Unfortunately…their marriage begins to unravel.
The stunning enchantment of Ireland is certainly the forefront of this novel and is told with captivating words, bringing the reader into this remote – slightly frightening – world; Ireland’s fierce natural beauty and the strength of its lore takes over every page. An attention-getting story of strangers in a strange land who face violence and the end of their marriage happening before their very eyes, it is still a bit long at times and interest can be lost. The author knows his characters, and does an extremely good job of introducing them and describing the ‘Ireland’ that they inhabit. But, after reading the novel, you will find yourself thinking twice before ever throwing a dart at a board.
Reviewer: Amy E. Lignor