Foreword Reviews

The Third Swimmer

A Novel

2016 INDIES Winner
Silver, General (Adult Fiction)

The Third Swimmer is an engaging novel and a welcome addition to the literature of understanding the destruction of war.

Rosalind Brackenbury’s The Third Swimmer is an intricate, well-crafted gem of a tale. The first part finds two Londoners, Thomas and Olivia, personally adrift just prior to the expected invasion of Britain in 1939. The narrator intimately reveals the aimlessness of these two people who have strong reasons to believe that their deaths are imminent. Thomas, surprising both himself and Olivia, proposes. Olivia, surprising herself and Thomas, accepts.

As the war approaches British shores, the narrator deftly bores in on the doubts, insecurities, and deceptions of these two lonely souls. They share fleeting moments of contentment rather than a genuine joy of an engaged couple. The prose is precise, with details conveying life in a land where the war consumes the nation as a whole and these two people in particular.

A decade later, their marriage has become a forlorn affair. An impetuous decision to visit France for a delayed honeymoon resurrects the couple’s repressed anxiety of having survived the war when others did not. In the absence of their four children, their relationship is exposed and threatened, and only an act of bravery by Thomas—and intuition on Olivia’s part to save him from his heroism—bring the couple to the brink of recovering their lost love.

Rural France comes alive on later pages: dusty, hot, and war-torn, France is as vividly rendered as the bombed-out residences of London. Olivia speaks a bit of French, and the these snippets of dialogue imbue the prose with a familiarity of place. The minor characters are vividly drawn, from Olivia’s secretive London lover to a prescient French peasant who assures Olivia that he sees her future with Thomas.

The Third Swimmer is an engaging novel and a welcome addition to the literature of understanding the destruction of war.

Reviewed by Thomas H. Brennan

Disclosure: This article is not an endorsement, but a review. The author of this book provided free copies of the book to have their book reviewed by a professional reviewer. No fee was paid by the author for this review. Foreword Reviews only recommends books that we love. Foreword Magazine, Inc. is disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

Load Next Review