Swimming Home

Written by Mary-Rose MacColl
Review by Cathy Powell

MacColl gives us a thoroughly enjoyable read in this book describing the changing circumstances of 15-year-old Catherine Quick in 1925. Catherine is a swimmer who spends part of her childhood in Australia. Due to family circumstances she ends up having to move to England to live with her aunt, Louisa Quick, whom the author models on Dr Louisa Garrett Anderson. Catherine draws attention to herself by swimming in the Thames, but although it results in her being expelled from school, she and her aunt receive an opportunity to move to New York. Manfred Lear Black, who owns a Baltimore-based newspaper, becomes her benefactor in training to swim the English Channel.

As the story moves along, we discover that secrets have been hidden along the way. Some people involved thought they were doing the right thing; others perhaps not. There is also a misunderstanding that has the potential to cause grave consequences. It shows how complicated families can be and the lengths that people go to for the ones they love. MacColl succeeds in bringing all the various places to life, whether it is humid Australia, murky London or exuberant New York. A highly engaging read.