cover image Florence Adler Swims Forever

Florence Adler Swims Forever

Rachel Beanland. Simon & Schuster, $25.99 (320p) ISBN 978-1-982132-46-0

The shock of a family’s loss reverberates through Beanland’s debut. It’s 1934, and Florence Adler is a vivacious 20-year-old living in Atlantic City, N.J., preparing to swim the English Channel with the coaching help of Stuart Williams, a handsome local lifeguard. While at the beach with her niece, seven-year-old Gussie, and their young German Jewish houseguest, Anna Epstein, Florence sets off for a swim, during which she drowns. Her parents, Esther and Joseph, cannot bring themselves to tell Florence’s sister, Fannie, who’s pregnant and in the hospital on bed rest, and Gussie and Fannie’s husband, Isaac, must also keep the secret. The story progresses through the perspectives of those who had a connection to Florence, including Stuart, who harbored a crush on her; and Anna, with whom Florence shared a one-time sexual encounter; and a heady attraction that brews between Anna and Stuart after Florence’s death. Beanland beautifully handles the depiction of loss and rebuilding life without a loved one, describing moments that are by turns painful and moving (“Joseph’s daughter was to be found in the people who loved her the most”). The thick emotional tension will please fans of character-driven historicals. (July)