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As Dee Denham, once a beautiful and beloved wife, the toast of colonial Cyprus, lies dying, her former life seems unimaginably distant. And then out of the blue Dee speaks to her son Thomas, sitting at her bedside: she tells him that her illness is a punishment. Compelled by a grief he cannot articulate and a confused childhood memory of betrayal, as Thomas begins the process of dismantling his mother's life he finds himself searching for the meaning of her last words. Embarked on a dangerous liaison of his own, he searches through faded photographs and love letters, seeks out survivors and examines his own imperfect remembrance, and suddenly a whole vanished world comes to life. The restless, seductive island of Cyprus at the end of Empire, a place of oleander and carob trees, cocktails at the Harbour Club and adultery in shuttered bedrooms, peopled by ghostly admirers and conspirators, lovers and spies. With gathering momentum Dee's story unfolds, an intimate history of violence and tenderness for which Thomas finds himself quite unprepared, and in the background the distant, ominous roar of approaching disaster. A vivid, precise evocation of the past and a deft and sensitive examination of the dangerous power of memory, Swimming to Ithaca sets fragile human relationships against the heedless, unstoppable force of history and sheds new light on both.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780316730990
ISBN-10: 0316730998
Format: Hardback
(216mm x 135mm x mm)
Pages: 352
Imprint: Little, Brown & Company
Publisher: Little, Brown & Company
Publish Date: 6-Apr-2006
Country of Publication: United States

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Author Biography - Simon Mawer

Simon Mawer was born in 1948 in England, and spent his childhood there, in Cyprus and in Malta. He has lived with his wife in Italy for more than 20 years, and he teaches at the English School in Rome.

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