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BOOK REVIEW / Recent paperbacks: Aquamarine - Carol Anshaw: Virago, pounds 5.99

In Carol Anshaw's first novel, Jesse Austin swims 10,000 miles over three years of training, races for America in the 1968 Olympics and comes second. This shock forms a persistent traumatic drag on her life, though the book itself splits up to give us three versions of what happens next. Anshaw souses her characters in poky Americana, then pushes on with wit and compassion to make them survive it. Her tricks can be illogical, and her verve occasionally goes awry, but she makes a strikingly enjoyable case for the need to squash deluded yearnings.