Title: Swimming In The Dark
Author: Tomasz Jedrowski
Length: 256 pages
This is one of my most anticipated reads of the year. I was lucky enough to be sent a finished copy and I started it that night.
Synopsis: Poland, 1980. Anxious, disillusioned Ludwik Glowacki, soon to graduate university, has been sent along with the rest of his class to agricultural camp. Here he meets Janusz, and together they spend a dreamlike summer swimming in secluded lakes, reading forbidden books – and falling in love. But with summer over, the two are sent back to Warsaw, and to the harsh realities of life under the Party. Exiled from paradise, Ludwik and Janusz must decide how they will survive, but their different choice risk tearing them apart.
I adored this book. It’s a beautiful, tender love story set against a political background, what more can you ask for?
The book starts with Ludwik in America, writing a letter to his ex-lover, reminiscing their time together, and explaining his side of the story.
When I say the love story was beautiful and tender, I mean it. It starts of with Ludwik noticing Janusz across the room, then bumping into each other by the lake, slowly getting to know each other, to then going on their own camping trip where their relationship takes the next step. Jedrowski really does capture a passionate, caring connection between the two characters and it makes for a fantastic story and love story.
I’m so glad the relationship continued as they went back to the city. This is where the political element really comes in and adds a whole new dynamic to the relationship and book. It shows how the two characters are on different sides in the political situation. Janusz wants to use the situation to his advantage and Ludwik wants to get away from it all. It almost comes down to choosing love or self-love.
With this book being written by a gay man, he perfectly captures what it’s like to be gay. With all the shame, freedom, first love, hiding relationships and the mental toll it can take. Jedrowski writes in all these subtle nuances, that give both characters such depth.
The ending of this book, and Ludwik and Janusz relationships was so beautiful yet subtle and heartbreaking. There was such beauty in its sadness. It perfectly captures the moment of not being able to say goodbye and all the things left unsaid. While it wasn’t the ending I wanted, I can’t deny it’s brilliance.
Swimming In The Dark is beautifully written, filled with poignancy and tenderness. It made me cry on page 25! Wonderful and heartbreaking, it will capture your heart. A wonderful historical fiction LGBTQ+ novel. I can’t recommend it enough. This is Tomasz Jedrowski’s debut novel and I can’t wait to see what he does next.
Thanks to Bloomsbury for gifting me with a copy of this book in return for an honest, unbiased review. It’s out now in the Uk. April in US.
Until the next review