The Girl in a Swing
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The Girl in a Swing

3.46 of 5 stars 3.46  ·  rating details  ·  1,129 ratings  ·  101 reviews
A shy young man meets a beautiful woman in the company of a young girl. He finds himself swept off of his feet and married to her, bringing her with him to live in his family home. She is his erotic dream come true; she does everything she can to bind him to her and join him in his comfortable life.

Soon, however, odd things begin to happen. Things in the house are strangel...more
Paperback, 397 pages
Published April 30th 1981 by Penguin (first published 1980)
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248th out of 1,126 books — 3,351 voters
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34th out of 202 books — 18 voters


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Community Reviews

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Rosina Lippi
The Girl in a Swing is absolutely nothing like Watership Down, no talking animals at all. Instead this is a story about love and obsession and ghosts, and it’s really spectacular. The main character is a young man from a stable family who has taken over his father’s fine china business in a small town in England. He has the slightest bit of extrasensory perception, which shows itself only rarely in his boyhood and young adulthood.

Traveling on business to Scandinavia, he meets a beautiful woman a...more
Ashley
Richard Adams is 'hit or miss' with me. 'Maia', for instance, seemed almost smutty when compared to the whimsical beauty of 'Watership Downs', though the imagery was equally stunning and the characters intriguing. I read it in its entirety but had a bad taste in my mouth at the end. However, this book has stayed w/ me unlike any book I've read in a long while. I just can't describe it, neither will I try to give an adequate synopsis. Suffice it to say that it is a psychological thriller that dis...more
Maria M. Elmvang
I hardly know how to describe this book. It started out very slowly, and I was wondering if I'd have the patience to work my way through it, but suddenly it captured me completely, and I read the last 200 pages in one sitting.

It is so very, very different from Watership Down that it's almost hard to believe it was written by the same author. Instead of being a social commentary, The Girl in a Swing touches upon the supernatural while tying it up to Christian theology.

I'd been warned that the boo...more
Myles
What a haunting book. Richard Adams has a supreme gift of language that raises everything he does to the level of the best Greek tragedies.

I read a battered paperback copy of this several years ago in a single weekend, each dip into it longer than the one before, until it became impossible for me to set it down - I had to follow it through to the end.

The Girl in a Swing does not reach a place in my head and heart like Watership Down, but it proves to me the universality of Adams' gift, that he...more
Stephanie
While this book had great potential it did not live up to it. It was way too verbose. It took over 300 pages to tell a story that could have been done in 200. As for ghost story, it should have never been given that label.
Lori
An odd novel, in places beautiful, in others plodding. Among other things, it is a love story between reserved, self-effacing English porcelain expert Alan and East German expatriate secretary Käthe, whom he meets on business in Copenhagen. Neither are accustomed to thinking of or expecting love or tenderness, and both are endearingly vulnerable. What begins as an enchanting little romance that sweeps them both off their feet soon evolves into spiritual connection, a whirlwind marriage, and mutu...more
Feliks
Among a very few modern horror novels I've read which unleash a full, powerful, walloping, knockout-punch of crazy, disturbing horror ***only at the very end of the story***. Its just astounding. You rarely see this done, nowadays.

What makes it different from anything found in Stephen King's or Clive Barker's style is that it is more of a genuine novel from the start. It is innocuous; simple, pleasant, sweet. It has nice characterization; no 'stock' or 'prop' characters or obvious settings. Most...more
Bhavani Shankar
I found this book deeply disturbing. It is a book of two parts. It is a romantic story for the first 300 pages or so, charming without being completely compelling. There are just enough odd occurances in this first part to keep you interested and engaged, guessing where the author was going with this, and thinking you had a good inkling. Adams' prose is always elegant, and thus you remain content as the story chugs along. And then he hurls a sledgehammer at you in the last 75 pages, jolting you...more
Rachel
Another rich and absorbing novel by Richard Adams, one of my very favorite authors. In his well-known Watership Down, and in his lesser known Shardik, Adams creates a fictional world from which you emerge believing in its existence. In The Girl in a Swing, he creates Kathe, whose beauty and hedonism you want to believe in, but, I found, I am unsure if I can. Anyway, I recommend it, but first you should read his Shardik, which I consider to be stunningly imaginative and a gorgeous read.
Rebecca
A gripping, twisting, erotic horror novel. Fascinating character development, even though questions remain at the end of the book. An unpredictable story (at least for me). This is a departure from most of what people know of Richard Adams' work.

It's like a tapestry of horror/supernatural themes, wound around an erotic love story, the history of ceramics, and the headlong journey of two star-crossed lovers.
Lisa (Harmonybites)
Aug 21, 2011 Lisa (Harmonybites) rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Lovers of Hitchockian Horror
You might know of Richard Adams as the author of Watership Down, the classic tale "about bunnies." Well, this is as far away as you can get from that novel. A blurb in the front cover from the New York Times Book Review calls it a story of "beautiful, haunting erotic love and an absolutely terrifying ghost story." It's not erotica--I'd call it more sensuous than erotic and the sex is rarely in any way explicit and certainly never in a pornographic way. What strikes me most is the gorgeousness of...more
Jukka
The Girl in a Swing - Richard Adams

I was describing to my sister an event early in this book (the school experiment) and she said, "that's like Steven King". [Not implying that Adams is copying, he's an original.] She's right -- i'd not thought of it, but that's one way to descibe how this book is different from some of his other books. That and that this book is not about rabbits, dogs, horses, or cats.

But there's no mistaking Adams -- the strong geographic base and wandering in real terrain, t...more
Jae Smith
I have read and re-read "Watership Down" so many times - first when I was somewhere around 10 & through the last almost 2 decades and it is still one of my hands-down favorites so I was interested to read a book by Adams about people. For the first maybe 50 pages I honestly wasn't sure I was going to make it. It was dullish in the beginning than was staggeringly dreadful when it becomes a lecture on his ceramics business for what seemed like forever. I personally recommend skimming that part...more
Susie Kelly
This book was recommended to me by a friend, but sadly it was not one for me. On the positive side, I found the character of Desland sympathetic, enjoyed the author's very visual writing style, and was intrigued by the love affair for quite a long way into the book.

But there was constant question in the back of my mind as to why such a beautiful and desirable woman as Käthe would fall in love with introverted, awkward and by his own admission unattractive Desland. It just didn't ring true. And t...more
Amy
Interesting read. Early on, I had to check the publication date: the writing has a formal quality, and almost nothing locates the story in time except for a car and telephone. Without these artifacts, I'd be unable to tell if the action took place twenty years ago or one hundred and twenty.

I found the first half very slow going, with its stodgy descriptions of the protagonist's upbringing, academic training, and growing collector's passion for the china trade. When the mysterious Kathe enters th...more
Tracey
Adams' story of a doomed whirlwind romance is masterfully crafted. Alan is a porcelain dealer with a latent sensitivity to the paranormal. All nonsense, of course, since he's an upright British fellow who'll have none of it. Enter a beautiful woman, however, and Alan loses some of that cool British composure. She's mysterious about her past--but what does it matter? When he discovers that she feels the same way, the lovers begin a seemingly-charmed romance that can only end in tragedy.

Haunting a...more
Mike (the Paladin)
This was a sad and odd sort of ghost story and really it never actually made sense to me on several levels. I don't want to put in spoilers but the 2 people involved do things that lead to tragedy but the actions themselves don't make sense within themselves. I suppose it can be looked at as 2 selfish people who set it all in motion, but still it's got gaping holes in it.

It does have it's own sort of terror, and that feeling of inevitable doom. I won't say it's bad or a waste of time. It's not a...more
Joshua Mark
A love story, a ghost story, a story which most definitely fits the definition of `haunting'. If you've seen the movie please do not judge the book by the film. I don't think the film was bad but that medium just cannot do justice to this sort of story. You have to live it for yourself. This novel and Trevanian's The Summer of Katya have haunted my imagination for over twenty years. I've read both books a number of times since the first read long ago and they only improve with age.
Shelley
Although I really enjoyed this story, it should probably be rated at least pg-13 due to the sexual nature of much of the storyline. It reminded me of Edgar Alan Poe in the haunting, driven, passion and mysterious forbodings.

I don't think I would read it again just because I remember it as being a bit racey, but it was definitely fascinating.
Jonathan Hutchins
This completely blew me away. I read it in one sitting, until about 3 a.m., in about 1984. I've never read it since, and don't need to. For me, head and shoulders above his other laborious fictions. This is the real thing. To be compared with Fowles' "The Magus": because based, covertly, on experience.
David Carr
Read this when it was new, more than thirty years ago. My younger self admired it fully and sped through it with barely a pause. Undeservedly forgotten, like his other work, perhaps.
Maggard
hmm, this wasn't Watership Down (in every conceivable meaning). Not really sure what I think about it - weird, pretty gripping in places, 3 stars seems to be my go-to rating these days.
Karol
I first read this book in my 30s and reread it a few times over the next 10 years. Now that I'm 65 I want to read it again and maybe I can understand why I loved it so much.
Ed
Adams' best book to my opinion
Susan
I loved it. Found myself thinking about it again after reading Sarah Waters' wonderful haunted house novel "The Little Stranger." The plots are different in a number of ways, but they do have common threads that I can't say more about without spoilers.

The hero is a shy, sexually naive young man who falls in love just about at first sight with a beautiful German woman whom he meets on a business trip abroad. The courtship lasts about five days before they're engaged to be married, but there's som...more
Esdaile
This was one of those books which can be read with enjoyment once but as a lifetime is so short and there so many excellent novels to be read, one can hardly imagine wishing to read again. There was a television series in the UK in the 1970's with horror stories of 45 minutes and this story would have provided a good script for one of those. The novel is arguably a little too long for the stroy line and there is perhaps too much aficionado talk about porcelain and pottery as opposed to the sinis...more
KRISHNA TENNETI
This is my first read of Richard Adams novel.The first 100 pages of the novel is really boring.I thought to stop reading this further.But after 100 pages it has gained momentum and absorbed me into the novel totally.The author has great knowledge about ceramics,pottery and antiques.It is reflected in the story.The suspense element is maintained through out the novel.Only at last we got to know it.Though the first half is boring,second half ties the reader to the book.
But some questions are unan...more
A.M.
Despite its verbosity, I found myself totally engrossed in this modern Gothic romance about a British porcelain/antiques dealer and a mysterious foreign woman he meets and hastily marries. Doubtless the author feels he ties up the loose ends about her dark past - and perhaps most of the readers do, too - but I was left quite confused about what exactly happened. Oh, well - still enjoyed it!
rgb
This is a three star book -- I liked it, and scenes from it (especially some of the erotic scenes) have stuck with me years after I last read it. One day I will read it again.

However, it is flawed. For one thing, it is too long and the plot advances too slowly and with too many long stretches where nothing much really happens. It is a deliberate device -- the little things that signal the advent of the ghost have to take place against a "normal" background, and the author has to build up the rea...more
Auntie Grizelda
I read this book after my boyfriend at the time said I reminded him of the Girl in a Swing. I thought he was talking about the main character. Did not realize until many years later, long after we broke up, that he was talking about something else. Read to find out what!
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name. See this thread for more information.

Adams was born in Newbury, Berkshire. From 1933 until 1938 he was educated at Bradfield College. In 1938 he went up to Worcester College, Oxford to read Modern History. On 3 September 1939 Neville Chamberlain announced that the United Kingdom was at war with Germany. In 194...more
More about Richard Adams...
Watership Down Tales from Watership Down (Watership Down, #2) The Plague Dogs Shardik (Beklan Empire, #1) Maia (Beklan Empire, #2)

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“Well,' replied Tony, 'I think [Christ's] line would be the same as it always has been - that [sex without marriage] is understandable and forgivable, but wrong to the extent that it's less than the best.” 1 likes
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