I second Mrs Snark's recommendation for Total Immersion (TI) swimming. Buy one or two of his videos after reading the book. It's awesome. I've followed it, and I like to think I am not just being flattered, when I'm told that my swimming form is exceptional - really smooth and effortless looking. I swim laps an hour twice a week, and play water polo on Wednesday night, so I get a lot of time in the water.
For the first book, though, I recommend a book by Emmit Hines (A Houston based trainer). This gets you through the pre-swimming steps you need to learn, and I think does it even better than total immersion. It lays the groundwork better, so you can get smoothly into bilateral breathing. It addresses kicking (including the 2-bat and 6-beat kick), the stroke, movement of hips, coordination of stroke and kick better than total immersion, in my humble opinion. That might only be 1/5th of the book, but it is the best intro there is. For people who like detailed technical pictures, this is the book! The rest of the book gets very drill centric, which will help you AFTER you get proficient following TI.
For those of you that want a cheap tempo trainer (a beeping ticker in the water), and don't want to spend $99 at FINIS (whom I love by the way), use a Pyle watch from Amazon and tuck it into your cap. It withstands swimming just fine and saves lots of money! http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B005G2SI2Y/
I just love swimming. It is making my arms look so nice. And, I would have thought I could actually play and contribute to water polo at age 51.
An additional benefit is you can swim with nice buff looking young men, and not get your husband too worried!!