Florence Adler Swims Forever
by Rachel Beanland
Pub Date 07 Jul 2020
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“Rachel Beanland is a writer of uncommon wit and wisdom, with a sharp and empathetic eye for character. She’ll win you over in the most old fashioned of ways: She simply tells a hell of a story.” —Rebecca Makkai, Pulitzer Finalist for The Great Believers
Atlantic City, 1934. Every summer, Esther and Joseph Adler rent their house out to vacationers escaping to “America’s Playground” and move into the small apartment above their bakery. Despite the cramped quarters, this is the apartment where they raised their two daughters, Fannie and Florence, and it always feels like home.
Now Florence has returned from college, determined to spend the summer training to swim the English Channel, and Fannie, pregnant again after recently losing a baby, is on bedrest for the duration of her pregnancy. After Joseph insists they take in a mysterious young woman whom he recently helped emigrate from Nazi Germany, the apartment is bursting at the seams.
Esther only wants to keep her daughters close and safe but some matters are beyond her control: there’s Fannie’s risky pregnancy—not to mention her always-scheming husband, Isaac—and the fact that the handsome heir of a hotel notorious for its anti-Semitic policies, seems to be in love with Florence.
When tragedy strikes, Esther makes the shocking decision to hide the truth—at least until Fannie’s baby is born—and pulls the family into an elaborate web of secret-keeping and lies, bringing long-buried tensions to the surface that reveal how quickly the act of protecting those we love can turn into betrayal.
Based on a true story and told in the vein of J. Courtney Sullivan’s Saints for All Occasions and Anita Diamant’s The Boston Girl, Beanland’s family saga is a breathtaking portrait of just how far we will go to in order to protect our loved ones and an uplifting portrayal of how the human spirit can endure—and even thrive—after tragedy.
"Rachel Beanland is a writer of uncommon wit and wisdom, with a sharp and empathetic eye for character. She'll win you over in the most old fashioned of ways: She simply tells a hell of a story."
—Rebecca Makkai, Pulitzer Finalist for The Great Believers
“Rachel Beanland has written a wonderfully assured and completely engrossing first novel. From the very first page, I was completely invested in the lives of Florence, Gussie, Anna and the rest. Florence Adler Swims Forever has much to say about family, loss and all the ways we have to wonder what might have been, and it does so with great skill and a deeply humane vision. I could not recommend it more highly.
—Kevin Powers, author of National Book Award finalist The Yellow Birds
"Florence Adler Swims Forever is a tender, funny, frank look at how family and faith can frustrate us, sustain us, and keep us human.”
—Blair Hurley, author of The Devoted
“Grief may propel this story, but the overall effect is one of joy—especially at watching such an assured and dazzling debut writer at work. The Adlers are as real as your closest friends, and their tale of perseverance couldn’t be more timely. From its unforgettable opening and through the rippling current of her characters’ lives, Beanland shows a warmth and humanity that will bring readers back again and again.”
—Brian Castleberry, author of Nine Shiny Objects