Author(s): Paddy Richardson
Serena Freeman is a 15-year-old girl with her life ahead of her. From a dysfunctional family on the wrong side of the law, she is determined to break the mould, escape the prejudices of her community and attend university. That's until the law comes looking for her. Overcome by a force she can't fight against, she enters a world of fear and betrayal...
Expecting a thriller, I was pleasantly surprised by this nuanced, intriguing read, and I have some questions already formulating for our talk next week. Set in the small New Zealand township of Alexandra, the novel kicks off with young Serena Freeman, 15 and trying to break the mould of her not-so-successful siblings. Doing well at school, feeling that she is finally coming into her own, not merely recognised as one of the Freeman clan, an encounter with a local turns the tables. I won't give away too much here. Suffice to say that secrecy, betrayal and fear are all on the agenda here. Serena tries to come to terms with the consequences of this situation but is rather undone by her age and vulnerability. Interspersed with Serena's story are the stories of Isle Klein and her mother Gerda Klein. For Isle, a teacher at Serena's school, it is a story of change, awareness and renewal. This is beautifully told, and has an aching tenderness. For Gerda, the story is one of fear, courage and escape. Gerda and her family's escape and defection from East Germany comes to the fore as memories are re-kindled by her interactions with Serena. When Isle finally learns the truth of her mother's desire to leave Germany, she is stunned, as will be the reader. Richardson develops her characters wonderfully, their voices are strong and distinct, and she weaves their stories together in a way that engages the reader to step alongside and champion those that are not afraid to take action in the face of authority. - Stella
"If you enjoy stories about strong women and how they surmount their personal obstacles, Swimming in the Dark will be right up your alley." --Crime Segments " ...[an] absorbing psychological thriller..." -Publishers Weekly " ...[an] absorbing psychological thriller..." "Publishers Weekly""
Internationally published author Paddy Richardson is the author of five novels, The Company of a Daughter, A Year to Learn a Woman, Hunting Blind, Traces of Red and Cross Fingers, as well as two collections of short stories.