Florence Adler Swims Forever
Have you ever read a book whose plot pivots on an early twist that you find troubling? Have you ever liked a book, even despite that? FLORENCE ADLER SWIMS FOREVER was such a one for me.
The time is the 1930’s, the place Atlantic city. The Adler family patriarch, Joseph, owns a bakery that easily supports his wife Esther and their two daughters Fanny and Florence. Fanny is married, with a seven-year-old daughter, a distant husband, and a baby on the way. Having lost a preemie not long before, she is now hospitalized, on complete bed rest for the last several months of this pregnancy.
Meanwhile, her sister Florence, a champion swimmer, is training to swim the English Channel. One day, while out for a routine swim, she drowns. Driven by grief and fear, her mother decrees that Fanny not be told of her sister’s death lest it drive her into early labor.
There it is, the lie that made me squirm. Then I got involved in subplots, and I simply accepted it and enjoyed the ride.
FLORENCE ADLER SWIMS FOREVER is a charming book. The author fills in enough background on the major characters to make them whole. She deals with issues of faith, often associated with a subplot involving a young refugee from Hungary, who is staying with the Adlers on a student visa while trying to move her parents from Nazi territory to America.
I loved Gussie, Fanny’s 7-year-old daughter. I loved Stuart, the independent-minded son of a wealthy hotelier who refuses to rent his rooms to Jews. I loved Joseph, the father of Fanny and Florence, who proved to be a wonderfully decisive savior. And I loved Anna, our Hungarian refugee, who was so frightened for her parents that she was willing to compromise her future.
Much of FLORENCE ADLER SWIMS FOREVER is based on the lives of the author’s own relatives several generations back. This endeared me to the story all the more.