Hegel writes in a beautiful style about a post WWII family comprised of a little girl who is growing up and coming of age with her artistic mother and her stiff father who is a dentist. Her mother takes her to the quarry and teaches her to swim during thunder and lightening storms and swims in circles, holding her daughter's hands eventually letting go, thus the title. A lovely book. Well worth the read.
Although well-written, this short series of vignettes told from the point-of-view of a young girl, did not emotionally hit me like Hegi's following book, _Stones From the River_. If I'd read this one first, maybe my feelings would be different. If you're a fan of _Stones_, you'll enjoy this book simply because it continues the lives of the families (and babies) you've already become acquainted with. There was nothing particularly revealing that surfaced in this book, so don't expect surprises. Recommended if you really, really enjoyed _Stones_.
This is a short novel that in many ways reads more like a collection of essays. It's a series of short vignettes about the people who live in a small German town in the 1950s. The narrator is a teenage girl, born just after WWII, and much of the novel deals with the consequences of war for the various townspeople. This is a town populated by a truly eclectic cast of characters. Hegi does an excellent job of delving deep into and developing each of her characters and their relationships to one another. This is the same town that was the focus of Hegi's novel Stones from the River, which is set in the same town in the interwar period and WWII. Some of the characters appear also in Stones, some do not, and they don't necessarily occupy the same places in each book. Trudi Montag, the central character in Stones from the River is far less sympathetic and far less interesting in this book. From publication dates it appears that Hegi wrote this book before she wrote Stones from the River, though I read them in the opposite order. The characters and life of the town are far more fully developed in Stones, though character development is still clearly Hegi's forte, even in this book. For those interested in Hegi's work, I recommend reading Stones first. Had I not had the background I did from Stones, I think I would have found this book less interesting.
"Ursula Hegi uses her usual hypnotic prose in this book, which flows like the water in the rivers that she loves, even as fast as 8 kilometers per hour like the Rhein.
The stories continue to flow seamlessly, through her whole book. Yes, "stories," as even though the book is a novel, it is composed of chapters, which are in fact free standing stories in and of themselves. All the stories are narrated by her protagonist, but each story could be lifted out of the book, and be self-contained. " amazon review
Some time ago, a good friend recommended I read some of Ursula Hegi's books. I hadn't tried this author and my friend just knew I would enjoy her work.
My friend was absolutely correct! I've now read four books by this author and have enjoyed every one of them, including this one.
I'm totally captivated by Ursula Hegi's writing.