Book Review: The Swimmers

Chloe Lane ~ The Swimmers


Erin’s mother has motor neurone disease and has decided to take her fate into her own hands. Following the end of a relationship and job, Erin heads back to Auckland for a weekend.

Years later, Erin looks back at her twenty-six-year-old self, and can finally tell the story of the unimaginable task she faced one winter…


Assisted dying remains a difficult subject to approach. Even in New Zealand where (in some circumstances) it is now legal, not everyone agrees with it.

Yet in a world where we afford our beloved pets a dignified departure, why do we still cling on to people? Those who are religious may deem that only God has the right to give or take life; others may just struggle to say goodbye.

In The Swimmers, Chloe Lane asks us to consider what we would do in such a situation.

This is a short, powerful book. Erin is a quirky character and through her words we see a family fraught with estrangement, betrayal and stubbornness. Erin is already in a bad place, but coming to terms with her mother’s wish to take her own life leads her to some questionable choices.

None of us knows how we would react in a similar situation but Lane takes us on a poignant journey of reflection. We assume Erin is speaking to us from present day, in a country that has legalised the right to die. As she looks back on her mother’s death she is still struggling with her feelings.

If anything the book is too short. But the length enables us to truly consider how fleeting life is. Erin doesn’t have enough time to process her mother’s decision and neither do we.

It’s impactful in its way but there is no time for us to grieve. We are thrust in and out of Erin’s life so quickly that all we are left with is a slight shock and a considered wonder about our own feelings towards the subject.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

I received a proof copy from Gallic Books. Opinions my own.

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