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Night Swimming
     

Night Swimming

4.6 29
by Robin Schwarz
 

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In the bestselling tradition of "Good in Bed," and "She's Come Undone," comes a charming romantic comedy about a woman who flees a life and a body she doesn't want, and finds love and her true self in the process.

Overview

In the bestselling tradition of "Good in Bed," and "She's Come Undone," comes a charming romantic comedy about a woman who flees a life and a body she doesn't want, and finds love and her true self in the process.

Editorial Reviews

Booklist
Readers of chick lit who want more substance will find it in this standout first novel.
Julia Livshin
… a female-empowerment joy ride … this feel-good debut is a lively read.
The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly
An overweight New Hampshire bank employee is misdiagnosed with cancer and given a year to live in this first novel, a giddy, overblown romantic comedy. Wish-fulfillment is on the agenda for the unfortunately named Charlotte Clapp. After her doctor gives her the bad news, she decides to rob the bank where she works and run away to L.A. Miraculously, her daring life change is rewarded by unintentional weight loss-fortunate, because Skip, the pool boy at her luxury apartment complex, is a blonde Adonis (and a former lawyer), and Charlotte (now calling herself Blossom McBeal) plans to sit in a kimono by the pool, hoping desperately that he'll fall for her. Friendship is provided by Charlotte's dog-loving elderly neighbor, Dolly-and Charlotte needs it, because the police are still after her, slowly but surely tracking her to California. Schwarz's novel is as padded as Charlotte's waistline with purple prose ("The perfect silvery notes... hovered like breakable angels over the audience") and hyperbole ("One Krispy Kreme after another, until she resembled a cardboard clown with a ring of white powder around its mouth"). But those willing to read between the book's often-unwieldy lines will be rewarded with soap-operatic satisfactions. Agent, Suzanne Gluck. (June) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Charlotte Clapp is 34, overweight, lonely, and bored in a small New England town. After learning that she has a year to live, she steals $2 million from the bank where she works, stages her death, and drives to Los Angeles via New Orleans. As "Blossom McBeal," she spends the year swimming at night and working on her "Things To Do Before I Die" list. Two new friends include Skip, the hunky pool guy, and old Dolly Feingold, reminiscent of the wonderful Mrs. Lefkowitz in Jennifer Weiner's In Her Shoes. Blossom/Charlotte is determined to make a difference for others and resolve some regrettable episodes in her own life. Months pass: she's losing weight, but can dying feel this good? Though one wishes a heavy woman could win her man without physical transformation, readers will love Blossom's fantasy year and cheer as newcomer Schwarz wraps this one up. Though not as fine as Weiner's Good in Bed or Wally Lamb's She's Come Undone, this should be popular in public libraries. Rebecca Kelm, Northern Kentucky Univ. Lib., Highland Heights Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Second chances. Charlotte Clapp doesn't look like the kind of person who would steal two million bucks from the bank where she works. But her doctor just told her that she has a year to live, and she wants to go out in style. Goodbye, New Hampshire-hello, New Orleans. Binging on beignets and mint-juleps, Charlotte listens to the soliloquies, rendered in contrived Cajun dialect, of a bartender named Henri and decides she has as much right to be happy as anyone else. Moving right along to Los Angeles, fat, plain Charlotte renames herself Blossom McBeal and buys a luxurious apartment for cash, no questions asked. After taking in the sights-Grauman's Chinese, the La Brea Tar Pits, etc.-she spends endless lazy hours basking by the pool, splashing in the pool (where she feels blissfully weightless and free) and strikes up a friendship with Skip, the pool guy. Forlorn when he fails to show for several weeks, she swims laps. When he reappears, she's thinner. They go to Disneyland. They have fun. But the feds are after her, in what has to be the slowest pursuit ever of a rather noticeable fugitive, and so is her doctor, who has to tell her that he made a mistake. Fortunately, by the time they do catch up with her she's already experienced a night of memorable sex with Skip, and learned many lessons about life, not only from him but from other colorful characters as well, including an old lady named Dolly who dies and leaves her ten million. Charlotte/Blossom is-ta-da!-a celebrity at last, but will the New Hampshire judge forgive her when she stands trial? He just has to, right?An amiable, rather babyish fantasy from newcomer Schwarz, creative director/writer of a New York ad firm. Agent: SuzanneGluck/William Morris

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780446694582
Publisher:
Grand Central Publishing
Publication date:
06/14/2005
Pages:
352
Product dimensions:
5.00(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.79(d)

Read an Excerpt

Night Swimming


Chapter One

CHARLOTTE CLAPP hated going to the doctor. All 253 pounds of her hated going to the doctor. Especially Dr. Jennings. Handsome, young, single Dr. Jennings-the most successful and eligible bachelor in town. Of course, in a town as small as Gorham (population fifteen hundred, including newborns) the competition was slim.

Charlotte considered why Dr. Jennings chose to settle in Gorham. He wasn't born here, and most people who are, set their sights on getting out. There must be something wrong with him under all that perfection. Why else would he be here in Gorham-in other words, nowhere? Gorham boasted one tiny two-man police station, a post office, a 7-Eleven, a fish plant, a church, a Bickfords restaurant, a bowling alley, a beauty parlor, a bank, one school, one doctor, one gas station, and an upside-down stop sign that had been swinging from its hinge for months. Summer or winter, most of Charlotte's neighbors found their entertainment by staying home and watching TV. Living in Gorham was like watching paint dry.

Charlotte Clapp had lived in Gorham her whole life, all of it in a small house on Middle Street. Middle Street-even the name was neither here nor there. It wasn't the beginning of anything or the end. It was simply and unremarkably the middle. And this middle was where she lived, floating in what felt like a long and everlasting in-betweenness.

Charlotte looked around Doctor Jennings's waiting room. Two other people waited there as well. A woman was knitting a scarf that was so long, she could throw it out of a window during a fire to save herself. Next to her sat a man with an utterly nondescript face, notable only for its extreme thinness. Charlotte held up her wrists and squinted to compare them to the man's scrawny pipe-cleaner neck. Was it possible her wrists were wider?

This depressing thought reminded her that she would soon have to disrobe for the fantastically fit Dr. Jennings. She shuddered. If only there were another way to have a physical. Virtual physicals. Yes, why hadn't someone thought of that yet? They probably had. It was likely they existed everywhere except in Gorham. But how would I know, having never left the zip code? And then he appeared, Sir Doctor Jennings, white coat and all, looking like a Nobel Prize winner or, worse yet for Charlotte, Dr. Kildare. She stood up to enter the examining room. I don't care what anyone says; I'm not going to get on the scale. That's for damn sure.

"Good morning, Charlotte," he said, motioning her in. Charlotte paused, aware of just how much room was left in the doorway in order for her to pass. None. He moved.

"Take a seat and relax," he said, motioning to the chair. "I'll be back in a minute."

The nurse handed her a paper nightgown. "Change into this, honey, and leave the opening at the back." Charlotte stared at the flimsy garment before her. It was a joke. She could use it as a handkerchief or a handy wipe or something to line the inside of a gift box with, but certainly not as a cover up. Calista Flockhart? Maybe. Charlotte? No. The armholes in the gown were no bigger than the holes you'd find in Swiss cheese. She tore them open, leaving her backside exposed like the state of Texas. Now all that was left to feel sick about was the reemergence of Dr. Jennings. Handsome, single Dr. Jennings. It would be an awful visit: He'd come in and ask her to sit up, when she was already sitting up. He was probably outside that door right now, dreading the prospect of having to touch any part of her. Why else would he be taking so long to return? Charlotte sat as straight as she could but still had more folds than a blanket stuffed in a trunk. She wondered if Dr. Jennings talked about how fat she was to other people.

I have this patient who is incredibly obese. I was thinking of suggesting that she get her stomach stapled.

And then he'd be off to an office supply store to get the necessary equipment. Hammers, nails, sump pumps. Oh, Charlotte, stop thinking like this. He's a professional. Act normal.

Finally, there was a knock at the door, and Dr. Jennings entered. Charlotte's resolve to act normal evaporated like steam disappearing from a teacup.

Oh, God, don't look at me. If the blind can read braille, surely you can just close your eyes and figure it out.

"Why are you in a gown?" he asked, to Charlotte's surprise.

"The nurse told me to change."

"I don't need to examine you; I only need to talk to you about the tests we took last week. They just came in today."

Thank you, God.

"But, since you've already changed, we can talk like this."

"Maybe I should just change anyway."

"No, that's not necessary. I have some things to go over with you. Please, why don't you sit over here," he said, pointing to a chair.

"No, I'm fine." If I move off this table, this thing will rip open like the Grand Canyon. Jennings will try to hide his eyes, but he won't be able to, because everywhere he looks, there I'll be, filling the whole room with mountains of flesh. My cleavage alone could be a danger to him. He could fall into it like a crevasse and never be heard from again. And then the room will go dark while my behind blocks the sun like an eclipse.

"No, really, I'm fine up here on the table. It's comfortable, in fact."

"Okay. Well, Charlotte, I have some rather upsetting news. We got the results from the blood tests you took, and they weren't exactly what I'd call good."

Dr. Jennings's voice delivered these words as if he were placing a dinner order. It sounded as matter-of-fact as "Oh, and no butter on the scrod ... I like it dry." Charlotte stared at him, watching his mouth move but only heard the slow, syrupy sound of bass notes pull his lips apart like taffy.

"Charlotte, we checked and rechecked the lab results, but I'm afraid it looks unquestionably like cancer."

Dr. Jennings continued, but Charlotte's brain was stuck on one word. The C word, the unmentionable disease she had feared since the first time her mother sat her down eight years ago and softly, ever so softly, told her the terrible news that Charlotte had already known but simply could not face. The C word only meant one thing, and that was death.

"... and so, Charlotte, I am in the unfortunate position to have to tell you that, as I see it, you have a year."

She had gone in last week for a routine physical. No big deal, just a tune-up really, as if she were having her car inspected. Then this morning she had received a call from Dr. Jennings's nurse.

"Can you come in today, Miss Clapp? Dr. Jennings needs to do a follow-up with you."

A follow-up? Of course, this made sense. An efficient doctor, must be routine. Nothing to worry about. Certainly nothing to prepare her for the news she'd just received.

No, this couldn't be right. This had to be someone else's news, not hers, not thirty-four-year-old Charlotte Clapp's. Her life might be boring, but it was predictable. And this ... this had not been predicted. And yet here was Dr. Jennings, cool, self-assured, twenty-nine-year-old Dr. Jennings, doling out fates like a postal worker tossing letters into the correct address bins.

"One year, Charlotte ... one year," Jennings repeated. Or maybe he hadn't. Maybe she only thought she'd heard it again, as the words were irrevocably lodged in her brain, echoing over and over like a distant drum of doom.

For the first time in months she forgot about how fat she was. Weight seemed gigantically unimportant now, like losing a button or missing a bus.

"I know how difficult this is to hear, Charlotte, particularly after your mother's own passing."

You don't know anything. You have no idea how I feel. You with your sixteen-inch neck and penny loafers.

"Is there anything that can be done?"

"Unfortunately, it's exactly what your mother had."

"What does that mean?"

"There's nothing to be done. Medicine just hasn't advanced as quickly as it needs to."

Charlotte stared at the clip on his tie. A stupid thermometer. Probably rectal.

Up until now her life had been as tedious as water dripping from a faucet, drop after drop, day after day, year after year. It was as steady and monotonous as the white noise coming from the freezers of the fish plant at the end of her street-the endless hum of refrigeration to keep the dead fish fresh. This is exactly how she felt. She was going to die-and she hadn't yet lived.

The years rolled over her like a dark intractable wave that suddenly made her feel like she had to swim for her life. So on that very same day, without the hint of hesitation, she walked into the bank where she had worked for fifteen years, and quit.

(Continues...)



Excerpted from Night Swimming by Robin Schwarz Copyright © 2004 by Robin Schwarz. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

What People are Saying About This

James Patterson
Every once in a while a novel comes along that just has it. Great story, memorable characters. Pace. High emotion. Night Swimming has it.
Rebecca Kelm
Rebecca Kelm, Northern Kentucky Univ. Lib., Highland Heights Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Readers will love Blossom's fantasy year and cheer as newcomer Schwarz wraps this one up.

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Night Swimming 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 29 reviews.
CJC67 More than 1 year ago
This book was so refreshing. Not the same old same hot girl gets the hot guy. Nope it was one for all the girls who have wanted the hot guy and never thought he even saw her. At times it wanted to make me cry and at other I want to yell at Charlotte. Lol it had a slow and depressing start but once you get past that its wonderful. Then when your at the end you see why you had to get through the beginning of the book. Just wonderful. It was a gift from my sister and I'm so glad she sent it to me ;). Highly recommend this book make you look at your own life.
Rebekah D'Ascoli More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Parts of this book had me laughing so hard I was almost in tears! Other parts were so poignant and heartfelt I was in tears. Yet through it all what a wonderful message,true happiness and love can't be found with another person until you find it within yourself. All the characters contribute to the overall theme even the ones that seem only incidental but my favorite characters are Charlotte and Dolly. Even though they are a generation or more apart they embody the struggles we as human beings face and the ultimate triumph of knowing we can make it through. I'm really not big into "message" books but this one is definitely worth it! I've given it to several of my friends and they agree.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
For quiet, overweight, unassuming Charlotte Clapp, life can be summed up by a single phrase-"some men die with their music still in them." All of her life, she's lived in a small town where the only thing more stifling that its inhabitants are her own thoughts. But, when she gets the news from her doctor that she's dying, and has only a year to live, letting the music inside of her out has never seemed more important.

So, she robs a bank. Yes, a bank...the very same bank that she's worked at for the past fifteen years. After all, she's dying, and if she wants to realize her dreams- which include going to Hollywood, California, meeting Tom Selleck, singing karaoke, riding in a hot-air balloon, and finding a man to love who will love her in return-she's going to need money. Lots of money. Money in the form of two million dollars in small bills, to be exact, which just happens to be sitting in the bank in small town Gorham, Massachusetts.

And so begins Charlotte's transformation; first into the life of Blossom McBeal, a woman who unconsciously strips off over a hundred pounds of comforting body fat, meets a widow who throws parties for her dogs, and falls head-fast into lust with the pool boy. And as the people of Gorham believe that Charlotte has committed suicide over the news of her impending death, Blossom comes to terms with who she is. She's a woman who has so much to give, and so much to give up-anger, resentment, and, above all, she must hand out forgiveness to everyone who has hurt her, and must also forgive herself.

As Gorham's Police Chief begins to suspect that quiet Charlotte, all two-hundred and fifty-three pounds of her, may have been behind the bank heist, opinions in town flow fast and free. It seems that Charlotte was much loved, more so than she ever knew. But out in Hollywood, Blossom is learning to live again-through nightly swims in the pool at her apartment complex.

NIGHT SWIMMING is a wonderful, wonderful book, a mixture of women's fiction, mystery, adventure, and romance. Ms. Schwarz perfectly blends the story into a book that you won't be able to put down. Charlotte is me-she's you-she's every woman whose ever had dreams that have been put on hold, stuffed into the back of an old drawer. She's the woman we wish we could be-brave, spontaneous, forgiving, loving. Charlotte is Blossom, who is Lila, who is all of us.

As Chief Makley closes in, as her friendship with her neighbor Dolly comforts her in her sadness, as her relationship with lawyer-turned-pool boy Skip turns to love, the message of NIGHT SWIMMING is clear-no regrets. Live your life to the fullest. And no matter what, you cannot be allowed to die with your music still inside of you.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
I loved this book so much! It's the perfect story of where the 'underdog' find love when least expected, with a great twist to the storyline. A MUST READ!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
For quiet, overweight, unassuming Charlotte Clapp, life can be summed up by a single phrase-'some men die with their music still in them.' All of her life, she's lived in a small town where the only thing more stifling that its inhabitants are her own thoughts. But, when she gets the news from her doctor that she's dying, and has only a year to live, letting the music inside of her out has never seemed more important. So, she robs a bank. Yes, a bank...the very same bank that she's worked at for the past fifteen years. After all, she's dying, and if she wants to realize her dreams- which include going to Hollywood, California, meeting Tom Selleck, singing karaoke, riding in a hot-air balloon, and finding a man to love who will love her in return-she's going to need money. Lots of money. Money in the form of two million dollars in small bills, to be exact, which just happens to be sitting in the bank in small town Gorham, Massachusetts. And so begins Charlotte's transformation first into the life of Blossom McBeal, a woman who unconsciously strips off over a hundred pounds of comforting body fat, meets a widow who throws parties for her dogs, and falls head-fast into lust with the pool boy. And as the people of Gorham believe that Charlotte has committed suicide over the news of her impending death, Blossom comes to terms with who she is. She's a woman who has so much to give, and so much to give up-anger, resentment, and, above all, she must hand out forgiveness to everyone who has hurt her, and must also forgive herself. As Gorham's Police Chief begins to suspect that quiet Charlotte, all two-hundred and fifty-three pounds of her, may have been behind the bank heist, opinions in town flow fast and free. It seems that Charlotte was much loved, more so than she ever knew. But out in Hollywood, Blossom is learning to live again-through nightly swims in the pool at her apartment complex. NIGHT SWIMMING is a wonderful, wonderful book, a mixture of women's fiction, mystery, adventure, and romance. Ms. Schwarz perfectly blends the story into a book that you won't be able to put down. Charlotte is me-she's you-she's every woman whose ever had dreams that have been put on hold, stuffed into the back of an old drawer. She's the woman we wish we could be-brave, spontaneous, forgiving, loving. Charlotte is Blossom, who is Lila, who is all of us. As Chief Makley closes in, as her friendship with her neighbor Dolly comforts her in her sadness, as her relationship with lawyer-turned-pool boy Skip turns to love, the message of NIGHT SWIMMING is clear-no regrets. Live your life to the fullest. And no matter what, you cannot be allowed to die with your music still inside of you.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The book Night Swimming is a very good book it is tremendously descriptive and detailed
Guest More than 1 year ago
My book club group chose this as this month's read and I was the first to finish it. And since I did so....I have been incessantly calling my fellow book-clubbers nagging them to hurry up and read this book! I absolutely loved it. It is not very often you find a book that has good characters that you just love and can identify with...and that is funny and heartwarming at the same time. I really would recommend this book to anyone. Actually I would say that they HAVE to read it. :o)
Guest More than 1 year ago
Started this book one evening and finished it the next day.... GREAT BOOK! Great humor, great feel good read! Recommend to anyone! You will NOT be sorry! Hope Robin Schwarz is writing another soon!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I had never heard of Robin Schwarz, but the review on it sounded interesting. It was one of the best books I have read. It was the kind of book you don't want to put down, but don't want to end because it's so good.
Guest More than 1 year ago
If you want to get lost in a well spun tale that is both deliciously written and a whirlwind of pace and plot, then Night Swimming is the book for you! The characters are sympathetic, the story is aspirational, and it takes you on a roller coaster ride of emotional highs and lows. I read about this book on BookSense as it was chosen as a favorite of all the independent book sellers in the U.S. andread it in one day reluctant to put it down. As the Washington Post said, 'It's a female empowerment joy ride.' Get it. Read it. Pass it on.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I picked up this book not expecting much-just looking for a book to read while exercising- and wow! I couldn't put it down. It has passed from me to my mom to her friend and my aunt is looking for it too. Great novel. Can't wait to read the next book Ms. Schwarz writes. The literary goddesses were smiling on Ms. Schwarz
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was excellent! I got this book from a friend at work and I figured it was something to read. Well, I couldn't believe what a great book this is! I couldn't put it down! It was easy reading and you could really get in to the charaters. I would recommened this to everyone.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I was pleasantly surprised with Robin Swartz' first novel. I first learned of this author on a local news program and was immediately intrigued. Totally enjoyable - great storyline, wonderful characters and very well written. I look forward to reading Robin's next novel.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I was not disappointed at all with this book. Robin Schwarz is an excellent writer. She describes everything to a T. She brings you into the story. I love the main characters in this book they are very well written to fit their part in her book. At times you can relate to the characters as everyday people, which made this book more appealing. Schwarz went to all means to entertain her readers and that she did. I can't wait for her next book. I give her an A+. It took me about 1 week and a half to read it but that is because I read it here and there but at times I couldn't put the book down because I was so curious at what would happen next. This is a must read book. Who wouldn't want to have a Skip in my their life or even be a Charlotte and take control of their life.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Not my usual read, but I couldn't put it down. Refreshing, entertaining and inspiring if totally unbelievable.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I READ AT LEAST ONE BOOK A WEEK AND I TELL ALL OF YOU THIS IS ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS I HAVE READ IN A LONG TIME. I LOOK FORWARD TO ANY NEW BOOKS THIS NEW AUTHOR COMES OUT WITH.I HATED TO HAVE IT END; I WANTED MORE. THERE WERE SMILES, OUTRIGHT HA HA AND THEN THE TEARS. SO MANY GOOD LESSONS IN THIS READ! ROSES TO THE AUTHOR.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This story is funny and has enough twists to keep the readers attention. The characters, Charlotte and Dolly, are believable and interesting, and the plot, although somewhat on the edge as far as reality is concerned, is captivating. I would like to make a recommendation to those people looking for new writers and GREAT stories. I read several reviews on A YEAR SINCE YESTERDAY and finally bought the book. It was GREAT. Be advised that it is listed as paperback yet is actually a very nice softcover. It is well worth the cost
Guest More than 1 year ago
I could not put this book down. I finished this book with a new outlook on life and a fresh smile on my face. Thank you Robin!