Tuesday, 9 August 2016
Review: The Swimming Pool by Louise Candlish
I tend to be really nervous of hyped novels, and this book has a real buzz around it, so I was a tad wary. However, having read and really enjoyed The Sudden Departure of the Frasers last year, I couldn’t resist picking The Swimming Pool up.
Natalie Steel is a teacher right at the beginning of her long summer holiday, and she makes a pact with herself to live like a ‘civilian’ rather than a teacher for the summer. But Natalie is restless and longing for something more. More than what she sees as her rather pedestrian life with her teenaged daughter and teacher husband.
Natalie’s sense of discontent is amplified by the hot, sticky atmosphere of the novel, set against the backdrop of the newly renovated and re-opened Elm Hill Lido. The arrival of the glamorous Lara on the scene adds an unexpected level of excitement and intrigue to Natalie’s life as she is swept up in her lifestyle and included in her group of intimate friends.
Molly, Natalie’s daughter is an extreme aquaphobic, and the appearance of the lido right at the heart of their community presents an immediate threat and mesmerising backdrop of fear and impending danger.
Louise Candlish is an incredibly clever writer. She is a master of creating an atmosphere of danger and tension stemming from the seemingly mundane. She weaves mistrust throughout the book and, as a reader, your growing suspicion alights on one character after the other, as each shows themselves to be untrustworthy or dislikable to some degree.
The culmination of the story is unexpected and awful, but I can’t exactly call this a satisfying read, as the thread of tension never quite breaks- and seems to extend beyond the final pages of the book.
This is a storyline that is full of threat – a dark undercurrent of the obsessive and the unknown lurking under the sticky familiarity of a long, hot summer holiday.
'I can't take my eyes off the water. Can you?'
It's summer when Elm Hill lido opens, having stood empty for years. For Natalie Steele - wife, mother, teacher - it offers freedom from the tightly controlled routines of work and family. Especially when it leads her to Lara Channing, a charismatic former actress with a lavish bohemian lifestyle, who seems all too happy to invite Natalie into her elite circle.
Soon Natalie is spending long days at the pool, socialising with new friends and basking in a popularity she didn't know she'd been missing. Real life, and the person she used to be, begins to feel very far away.
But is such a change in fortunes too good to be true? Why are dark memories of a summer long ago now threatening to surface? And, without realising, could Natalie have been swept dangerously out of her depth?