Thursday, 5 May 2016

Book Review - The Swimming Pool by Louise Candlish

Amazon UK
Title: The Swimming Pool
Author: Louise Candlish
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Netgalley
Publisher: Michael Joseph
Publication Date: 5th May 2016
Rating: 5 Stars

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, socializing 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 realizing, could Natalie have been swept dangerously out of her depth?

Wow, The Swimming Pool is a gripping read, and one that has left me gasping for breath at the end of it. I found I was drawn into the story from the start, and after the first third or so, I didn't want to put the book down at all. 

It all unsurprisingly centres around a swimming pool, or the newly re-opened Elm Hill Lido to be precise. It is a summer of a heatwave, and for Natalie she is feeling slightly reckless this summer. She is married to Ed, they are both teachers, and have a 13 year old daughter Molly. 

I realised early on that Molly was slightly different, and I don't feel its a spoiler to say that she has aquaphobia, a fear of being in water, or even being splashed. She has had various treatments for the condition but nothing has worked, and swimming lover Natalie just wishes Molly would overcome her fear. 

Natalie and Molly though at the start of the summer make friends with the far more glamorous Channings, who were instrumental in the re-opening of the lido, and turn into key players in this whole story. The majority of the story takes place over a three month period of the summer, and the time line does jump around slightly. 

We have the aftermath of an incident and that that being told in short segments, and then in larger segments we have the entire telling of the summer up until that point. There are also chapters that are flashbacks to a different summer in Natalie's past, when she was around Molly's age, and had a reckless summer that year too. 

Throughout the book, I couldn't help but feel there was something not quite right with some of the characters, but until things panned out, I couldn't work it out. At one point I was 100% convinced I had cracked at least one of the links, but I was very wrong even with that. 

The Swimming Pool tackles the topic of aquaphobia, as well as all manner of pool safety guidelines, in amongst a story that is really compulsive to read, and that I loved every second of. I am currently loving the direction Louise Candlish is taking with her writing and long may it continue. There are definitely psychological aspects at play in The Swimming Pool, and that overwhelming feeling that something big will happen with potentially fatal consequences, and I loved reading the entire lead up to the finale. 

Another cracking book from Louise Candlish, but I would perhaps say that although this could be regarded as great holiday reading, I'm not sure I would have felt comfortable at times reading it by a pool, but that may just be because the descriptions of the pool, and swimming would have made me jump into a real one, if nearby!

Thank you to Netgalley and Penguin for this review copy. This was my honest opinion. 

Happy publication day to Louise Candlish, The Swimming Pool is out today!  

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