Monday, 11 July 2016

Book Review - The Swimming Pool by Louise Candlish.

I received a copy of this title, for review purposes, from

An outdoor swimming pool, or lido, has been lovingly restored in Elm Hill, near London, and the residents are  flocking in their droves.  As the summer sun beats down, new friendships are formed, swimming times measured and fashion styles compared.  School teacher Natalie is hesitant at first but soon finds her stride alongside the ultra-glamourous Lara and her circle of wealthy friends.  Before long the transformation of Natalie's life goes a little too far and she begins to find her hum-drum life, with husband Ed and daughter Molly, more of a chore than anything.  She side-steps her daughter's phobia of the water and instead chooses to hang out with her new best friend at the lido.  But as the summer progresses, Lara becomes more than a friend and things begin to take on a sinister feel.  

It is not unusual to read of new friendships and new paths in life, but normally they are based around the lives of teens or young adults.  Even the recently divorced or widowed have their stories used as an example of how life moves on.  This novel takes a new approach.  It is the unusual case and effect of a new friendship that seeps into a previously perfect life.  What happens when a new influence in your life is the wrong one? 
 Natalie has been perfectly content with her lot.  She has a charming, happy and bright teenager and a strong marriage to fellow teacher, Ed.  Their home may be a little on the small side, but everyone is healthy and content.  Until the lido opens.  Fascinated by its glimmering newness and the bikini-clad mothers who sit all afternoon with designer pooches on their laps, it becomes an addictive pastime for Natalie.  When she is invited into the inner-sanctum, with these bleached blond and bronzed women, she doesn't take long to fall under the charm of Lara.  A lifestyle she has only ever heard of is now accessible and her husband now seems to be a bore.  Her daughter becomes friends with Lara's mini-me offspring and the summer becomes a blur of swimsuits and cocktails.  The cracks begin to show before too long, but their subtlety is sublime.  Teasing comments, innuendos and off-the-cuff invites to alcohol infused evenings become the norm.
Louise Candlish has a masterful talent of using observational skill and sharp prose, bringing the reader on a journey that they are not aware of.  Like going on a night out blindfolded, you just never know what is coming around the next corner.  More tense than thrilling, The Swimming Pool is an experience rather than just a read.  Natalie is under the spell of Lara, for sure, but she is also overcome with the atmosphere at the lido; the semi-nakedness of everyone around her; the amazing swimwear; the music and drinks; the complete package.  The reader can foresee problems from the first chapter, with flashbacks to Natalie's childhood increasing the tension, but each day with Lara and her cronies brings more and more surprises.  

Candlish has yet again produced a top-notch novel, pulling the reader in from the start and spitting them out at the end.  A clever, sexy yet subtle look at adult friendship.  It's not just teenagers that have angst...

The Swimming Pool is published by Penguin and is available in HB and ebook format. You can order your copy, with Free Worldwide Postage, HERE.  The ebook can be ordered via amazon link below...

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