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Swimming at Night

Swimming at Night

A Novel

  • reading group guide
People go traveling for two reasons: because they are searching for something, or they are running from something.

Katie’s world is shattered by the news that her headstrong and bohemian younger sister, Mia, has been found dead at the bottom of a cliff in Bali. The authorities say that Mia jumped—that her death was a suicide.

Although they’d hardly spoken to each other since Mia suddenly left on an around-the-world trip six months earlier, Katie refuses to accept that her sister would have taken her own life. Distraught that they never made peace, Katie leaves her orderly, sheltered life in London behind and embarks on a journey to find out the truth. With only the entries in Mia’s travel journal as her guide, Katie retraces the last few months of her sister’s life and—page by page, country by country—begins to uncover the mystery surrounding her death. . . .

Weaving together the exotic settings and suspenseful twists of Alex Garland’s The Beach with a powerful tale of familial love in the spirit of Rosamund Lupton’s Sister, Swimming at Night is a fast-paced, accomplished, and gripping debut novel of secrets, loss, and forgiveness.
Choose a format:
  • Touchstone | 
  • 384 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781451683424 | 
  • March 2013
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List Price $11.65
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Read an Excerpt

Swimming at Night   1   Katie
(London, March)

Katie had been dreaming of the sea. Dark, restless water and sinuous currents drained away as she pushed herself upright on the heels of her hands. Somewhere in the apartment her phone was ringing. She blinked, then rubbed her eyes. The bedside clock read 2:14 a.m.

Mia, she thought immediately, stiffening. Her sister would get the time difference wrong.

She pushed back the covers and slipped out of bed, her nightdress twisted around... see more

Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for Swimming at Night includes an introduction, discussion questions, ideas for enhancing your book club, and a Q&A with author Lucy Clarke. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.


The relationship between sisters is never simple, as Lucy Clarke illustrates in her debut novel, Swimming at Night. Katie and Mia shared the ups and downs of sisterhood—the fierce love and loyalty, the friendship, as well as the jealousy, disappointment, and anger. But a late-night visit from the police changes everything when Katie learns that Mia has been found dead in Bali. Unwilling to believe the evidence pointing toward suicide, Katie flies around the world following the entries in Mia’s travel journal—searching for truth, understanding, and finally, forgiveness.

Topics & Questions for Discussion

1. Did you believe that Mia committed suicide? Did you change your mind about whether or not she did throughout the course of the story? If so, at which points and why?

2. There’s a fine line between love and hate when it comes to sisters: “Sometimes the line between the two was so fine it was difficult to see which side you were standing on” ( see more

About the Author

Lucy Clarke
Photograph by James Bowden

Lucy Clarke

Lucy Clarke is the author of Swimming at Night and A Single Breath. She and her husband, a professional windsurfer, spend their winters traveling and their summers at their home on the south coast of England. Visit




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