Turning

A Year in the Water

Publisher: Hamish Hamilton
Through the heat of summer to the frozen depths of winter, Lee traces her journey swimming through 52 lakes in a single year, swimming through fear and heartbreak to find her place in the world

The water slips over me like cool silk. The intimacy of touch uninhibited, rising around my legs, over my waist, my breasts, up to my collarbone. When I throw back my head and relax, the lake runs into my ears. The sound of it is a muffled roar, the vibration of the body amplified by water, every sound felt as if in slow motion...

     At the age of 28, Jessica Lee--Canadian, Chinese, and British--finds herself in Berlin. Alone. Lonely, with lowered spirits thanks to some family history and a broken heart, she is ostensibly there to write a thesis. And although that is what she does daily, what increasingly occupies her is swimming. So she makes a decision that she believes will win her back her confidence and independence: she will swim fifty-two of the lakes around Berlin, no matter what the weather or season. She is aware that this particular landscape is not without its own ghosts and history.
     This is the story of a beautiful obsession: of the thrill of a still, turquoise lake, of cracking the ice before submerging, of floating under blue skies, of tangled weeds and murkiness, of cool, fresh, spring swimming--of facing past fears of near-drowning, and of breaking free. When she completes her year of swimming, Jessica finds she has new strength--and she has also found friends and gained some understanding of how the landscape both haunts and holds us.
     This book is for everyone who loves swimming, who wishes they could push themselves beyond caution, who understands the deep pleasure of using the body's strength, who knows what it is to abandon all thought...and float home to the surface.

PRAISE FOR

“A deeply moving meditation on solitude, yearning, loss and love. This lake of a book submerged and enveloped me. It is a truly beautiful offering.” – Kyo Maclear, author of Birds Art Life

“Lee’s language is sharp as ice on a frozen lake. It’s astounding, how, to explore her past and her own shifting identity, she uses the land as a metaphor, but tempers it with a view of yearning, the sight of someone once-removed, who can never really go back home again.  Insightful, unconventional, moving, and inspiring, I think this book will appeal to anyone who has ever struggled across the darkness trying to find the light.” – Yasuko Thanh, author of Mysterious Fragrance of the Yellow Mountains

"I loved this beautiful book. It's an attentive meditation on the pleasures and lessons of swimming in lakes, particularly in winter. Jessica Lee wears her bravery lightly and shares her knowledge with generosity. I recommend for outdoor swimmers or those who would like to be." -Amy Liptrot, author of the bestselling The Outrun