Paddy Richardson

Swimming in the Dark

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German immigrants, Gerda and Ilse Klein, live sedate lives of seclusion and routine in Alexandra, a small Central Otago town in New Zealand. Both mother and daughter are affected by their memories of Leipzig, the city the family escaped from in the early 1980s while it was still under the rule of the Stasi. For Ilse, these memories are of a home and friends she loved and still longs for. For Gerda the memories bring the desperate depression which overwhelms her in the dark months of winter. But for now the women look forward to summer, with the promise of peace and rest as Ilse, now a teacher at the local high school, begins her weeks of holiday. This expectation of peace is fractured when Ilse, while swimming as she regularly does in the evenings in the local river, discovers Serena, one of the few students she has allowed herself to grow close to, alone, terrified and in the process of giving birth. Suspecting that Serena is a victim of abuse, Ilse and Gerda take her and her child into their home, a decision which becomes the catalyst for change, but when Serena and her child come under threat, the women unite to protect them
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316 printed pages
Original publication
2014

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