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08 October 2015

Mary-Rose MacColl: Swimming Home

An extraordinary young woman
Catherine Quick spent her early life on the islands of the Torres Strait, north of Australia. It was a carefree life, playing with the children of the islanders and spending much of her time swimming in the warm waters of the ocean that surrounds the islands. When her father dies she is moved to London to live with her Aunt Louisa, a busy London surgeon.

Catherine misses her former life and finds it difficult to do what Louisa wants and get a good education. Boarding school is not easy and when a teenager Catherine takes a challenge to swim across the cold, and tidally dangerous waters of the Thames Estuary. While Louisa is shocked, Catherine's achievement reminds her of her love of swimming and memories of the past from the islands and her constant Islander companion, Michael.

American banker Manfred Lear watches her swim and offers to take her to New York to train with some of the best swimmers in the world to see if she can become the first female to swim the English Channel. With some difficulty, Catherine takes up this challenge and in the process discovers secrets that will change her life forever.

I loved Mary-Rose Macall's previous book, In Falling Snow, and was looking forward to this book to see if she could repeat the performance. While this was a good story about an independent and strong woman growing up in the 1920's and 1930's, it didn't have that special magic that put her previous book into my top reads a couple of years ago.

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