Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Girl in a Swing” as Want to Read:
The Girl in a Swing
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Girl in a Swing

3.48  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,389 Ratings  ·  125 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
Paperback, 396 pages
Published April 30th 1981 by Penguin Books (first published 1980)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Girl in a Swing, please sign up.

Popular Answered Questions

L. Legault In my old copy of the book - a first edition published in 1980 - Kathe did have a last name - Geutner, I think it was, although I'm not sure of the…moreIn my old copy of the book - a first edition published in 1980 - Kathe did have a last name - Geutner, I think it was, although I'm not sure of the spelling, as I no longer have that particular edition. The reason both names were altered - so I've read - was that an actual woman with that name sued or threatened to sue Adams and his publishers if he did not change the character's name. I don't know if that's true but it sounds as if it could be. (less)
This question contains spoilers… (view spoiler)
This answer contains spoilers… (view spoiler)
The Shining by Stephen KingIt by Stephen King'Salem's Lot by Stephen KingDracula by Bram StokerPet Sematary by Stephen King
Best Horror Novels
211th out of 1,405 books — 4,313 voters
The Shining by Stephen KingThe Haunting of Hill House by Shirley JacksonA Christmas Carol by Charles DickensGhost Story by Peter StraubHeart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill
Ghost Stories
167th out of 912 books — 1,526 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,513)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
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
Rosina Lippi
Feb 04, 2010 Rosina Lippi rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 03, 2016 Feliks rated it really liked it
Shelves: genre-horror
This novel of the supernatural is among the very few modern horror novels I've ever read which follows the classical format: in that the author unleashes a full, powerful, walloping, knockout-punch of crazy, disturbing horror only at the very end of the story. Its extremely singular in this regard. You rarely see this done, nowadays.

What makes this different from anything found in Koontz, Saul, Straub, King, Barker, or McCammon? It is that this 'restraint' makes it much more of a genuine novel f
Maria Elmvang
Jan 02, 2010 Maria Elmvang rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Bhavani Shankar
Dec 17, 2012 Bhavani Shankar rated it it was amazing
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
Oct 05, 2009 Ashley rated it really liked it
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
Nov 12, 2013 Lori rated it liked it
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
Feb 20, 2016 Myles rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror, la-sir, literary, c20th
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
Nov 25, 2010 Stephanie rated it it was ok
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.
Jul 25, 2009 Rebecca rated it it was amazing
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.
Jul 08, 2014 Kaethe rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction, ghosts, beloved
A ghost story with a lot of sex. Creepy as hell.
Jan 30, 2015 Stella rated it really liked it
Horrifying, but one of my favorites!
Lisa (Harmonybites)
Aug 21, 2011 Lisa (Harmonybites) rated it really liked it
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
Emily Crow
This is a hard book to review, as my feelings are so mixed. The story concerns an uptight Englishman and dealer in ceramics, Alan Desland, who falls in love with a mysterious, beautiful German woman, Kathe. Within a week he has proposed to her and she follows him to England. She seems to be the perfect wife, except that she is haunted, literally and figuratively, by a terrible secret.

The book was very well-written and kept my interest despite the fact that it is extremely slow-paced. Ultimately,
Susie Kelly
Jan 10, 2013 Susie Kelly rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviewed
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
Dec 04, 2014 Tracey rated it really liked it
Shelves: bath-book-club, 2014
Despite what for me was a very slow build (and I mean slow!) I did find this tale quite gripping. It's some time before you realise what kind of story you are reading, and even then the author makes you work to follow it! I can see why this makes it relatively unpopular.

As much as I found the details about pottery interesting, it was simply over written (adding to the slowness). And though the main character's movement between languages seemed very natural, the use of accents in speech was poor
Apr 15, 2008 Rachel rated it really liked it
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.
Nov 02, 2010 Carolyn rated it it was ok
I couldn't finish this. The female lead is a capricious, princess-y type that I do my best to avoid in real life, and certainly don't want to read a novel about. Otherwise it's a yawner about a very prim guy who collects ceramics and... well, that's about it. At well over a hundred pages, I had yet to come across anything "haunting" or "erotic", so I put it down. Definitely no Shardik!
Tom Doss iii
Jan 17, 2015 Tom Doss iii rated it it was amazing
In some ways the book has been sadly underrated by readers and critics alike. It has the subtlety of Waugh and the quality readability of Watership Down. As a bonus, the reader may gain an obsession of collecting English pottery.

If the reader has even the slightest appreciation of ghost stories, I cannot recommend this story enough.
Jonathan Hutchins
Aug 27, 2011 Jonathan Hutchins rated it it was amazing
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.
Suz Thackston
Apr 04, 2015 Suz Thackston rated it it was amazing
Sheer brilliance. One of my favorite books ever written. Poignant, dark, erotic without ever being gross, and incredibly creepy, this taps into a primordial theme, something that underlies the most enduring myths.
Apr 30, 2015 Canavan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 22, 2013 Susan rated it it was amazing
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
Jae Smith
Jan 05, 2013 Jae Smith rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: other-stuff
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
Daniel Klawitter
Aug 06, 2014 Daniel Klawitter rated it really liked it
Literary, Gothic, psychological...but above all this novel is a love story: with an incredibly deft hand Adams portrays the orderly and proper British protagonist (Alan) falling in love with the German-born Karin, a woman whom neither he nor we as readers ever learn very much about in terms of her past. But Adams has drawn her so completely as a human being that it doesn't Alan we are charmed utterly.

It seems a mistake to consider this novel a contemporary "horror" or ghost story
Jun 11, 2013 Amy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 01, 2012 Tracey rated it it was amazing
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
Jan 05, 2012 Stacy rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
The only other book by this author that I have read is Watership Down. That was a long time ago, but I recall loving it. This book is no Watership Down. It is so confusing that I am going to accuse Adams of starting it up at different times,forgetting what he had already set down. It purports to be 'horror', but I was not horrified, if you don't count my reaction to his writing. There was hot sex, but that started with impotence, so I am not sure what we were to make of either. I am not sure wha ...more
Joshua Mark
Jan 06, 2012 Joshua Mark rated it it was amazing
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. ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 83 84 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Käthe's Secret 30 79 Jun 22, 2016 10:05AM  
What's The Name o...: SOLVED. Mystery about a man who deals in porcelain and a ghost child [s] 4 30 Mar 13, 2016 02:57PM  
  • The Colony (The Colony, #1)
  • A Face at the Window
  • Sweetheart, Sweetheart
  • Nazareth Hill
  • The Uncanny
  • Hemma hos Martina
  • Underbara dagar framför oss: En biografi över Olof Palme
  • Angel of Light
  • Prayers to Broken Stones
  • Den döende detektiven
  • Peake's Progress: Selected Writings and Drawings
  • Vad gör alla superokända människor hela dagarna?
  • En liten bok om ondska
  • If You Could See Me Now
  • Ghost Song
  • The Legacy
  • Och Piccadilly Circus ligger inte i Kumla
  • Nightshade & Damnations
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 1940 Adams joined the British Army, in which he served until 1946. He received a class B discharge enabling him to return to Worc ...more
More about Richard Adams...

Share This Book

“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.” 2 likes
More quotes…