Largely narrative and written in first person present tense, the writing was beautiful, the settings well rendered and the protagonist believable and real.
While there is an underlying theme of reincarnation in the book, it is rather a story of one woman’s struggle to find meaning in life again after the tragic loss of her only child. She feels estranged from her husband and very alone in her
Julia is an obstetrician from a middle class background; her ambitious husband from a stiff-upper-lip aristocratic family. She is finally getting ready to return to work when a wrongful death lawsuit is brought against her and she is forced to take an extended leave from her profession. This sends her spiralling down again. She begins to have unsettling visions of a past life. She dares not mention these to her husband and when she does so to her psychologist friend, it is suggested she keep busy doing volunteer work.
Julia decides to try it out and through a twist of fate ends up visiting a prisoner who is in jail for murder. There is an eerie connection with this man and the story begins to take some skillfully written, surprising twists and turns.
There were a few loose threads around minor characters that could have been tidied up, but we come to know and like most of them well enough for the story. Near the ending there is an unexpected twist that stirs Julia out of her fog a bit and helps her face the uncertainty of her future, and a further lovely bittersweet turn that offers promise of resolution and hope.
The Girl on the Swing is literary fiction with a compelling storyline. A most enjoyable read with a touch of suspense and mystery, and one I will remember for a very long time...
4 stars out of 5!