Swimming with My Father by Tim Jeal - review by Ann Barr

Ann Barr

A Paranormal Patriach

Swimming with My Father


Faber & Faber 208pp £14.99 order from our bookshop

I wanted to read this book not only because the author has written two good biographies, Livingstone and Baden-Powell, but also because of the sunny, splashy cover picture showing father and small son in one-piece bathing suits. It starts, 'My father loved to swim in rivers, and in 1949, when I turned four and he forty-three, he started taking me with him. Sounds like the beginning of a joyous and free book. But it's actually a fairly painful one. The characters are captive - bound by duty, and also love.

By the Fifties, old Navy and Army families like that of Norah, the author's mother, had served in wars and endured their aftermath for ten years, in person or vicariously, and they had missed out on being Bright Young Things. Norah, crisply truthful, was kept back from a singing career

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

A Mirror - Westend

Follow Literary Review on Twitter