Originally posted on my blog, A Lovely Bookshelf on the Wall
In the past, historical fiction hasn't been a genre I actively seek out. Swimming in the Moon is exactly the kind of novel that is changing that for me. History is told as a natural part of the story thanks to vivid settings and interesting, relatable characters.
This novel is chock full of topics: an immigrant story, coming of age, poverty, women's rights, the way mental illness was treated at the turn of the 20th century, labor unions and workers rights. I read Swimming in the Moon over Labor Day weekend, not knowing that a huge chunk of the story would focus on the struggle for worker's rights. Its insights and the empathy fostered by the story gave me a new appreciation for the holiday.
I loved the writing in the beginning of the book, during Lucia and Teresa's time in Naples. The prose was just lovely, the kind of writing that catches your breath. Once Lucia and Teresa came to America, though, it started to read more like a young adult novel. I'm not sure if this was due to the first person narrative, or because the book covered so much that it couldn't help but hurry along. This wasn't necessarily a bad shift; it certainly made for a page turner! But I kind of missed the slower-paced beauty of those opening chapters.
Swimming in the Moon is rich, its scope ambitious. I connected with the characters and loved learning more about life in the very early 1900's. This is a great choice for reading groups - there is much that encourages further discussion.I received a copy of this book from the publisher via TLC Book Tours in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive any other compensation for this review.