The Swimming Pool by Louise Candlish

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The Swimming Pool by Louise Candlish

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Category: General Fiction
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Liz Green
Reviewed by Liz Green
Summary: Bored Natalie is seduced by her glamorous new friends who draw her into their circle. But are there cracks beneath the veneer of their new friendship?
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 464 Date: May 2016
Publisher: Penguin
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1405927321

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The Swimming Pool is the story of a woman - Natalie - whose eyes are dazzled by a glamorous couple who live nearby. Natalie and husband Ed have a 13-year-old daughter, Molly, and are the kind of parents you'd steer clear of at the school gates for fear of offending their politically correct sensibilities. Molly has a phobia of water. Rather than keep her away from rivers and pools, they subject her to a childhood of therapy. They keep up with changes to Molly's phone code so they can check up on her messages. They don't believe in private education and they eat nutritionally supplemented pizzas. Louise Candlish pokes delicious fun at this couple, particularly at dull-as-ditchwater Ed whose moral rectitude stifles poor Natalie, desperate to break out of her mould. Enter Lara Channing. Lara is a champion synchronised swimmer and former starlet. Her beauty, wealth and warmth have a magnetic attraction for Natalie who proves powerless to resist Lara's charms, although she is less sure of Lara's enigmatic husband, Miles. The novel charts Natalie's journey as she is enticed away from Ed and into Lara's web, and there is an increasing sense of unease as events unfold. Add to this heady mix a few additional ingredients, a heatwave, an outdoor pool and a gaggle of teenagers, and you have a recipe for disaster.

The Swimming Pool has three time frames. The story opens at the end of the summer when Natalie's daughter Molly has had some sort of accident. The timeline then shifts to the beginning of the summer and Natalie's first meeting with Lara, and the book toggles mainly between these two periods but with occasional flashbacks to one particular summer during Natalie's own childhood when she turned into the local bully (incidentally, it's hard to square Natalie's behaviour during that dark summer with the straight-laced woman she's now become). The intention of the split timeframe may have been to build up tension and, while it's a good method in principle, it doesn't really work here and, personally, I would have preferred a linear narrative of this summer's events.

According to the worldly Lara, Ed resembles French film star Alain Delon from La Piscine and there are a fair few references to that film. The book doesn't parallel the film though; it merely echoes the film's smouldering passions, and in both book and film the eponymous pool becomes a character more or less in its own right.

The middle section of the novel plods somewhat but it's worth persevering as, overall, the novel is very well plotted and the story hangs together well. And just when you think you've got to the end, and all loose ends have been tied up, there's an epilogue with a great little twist that I hadn't seen coming, and I'm always admiring of an author who can surprise you. It's a nicely written book, a very easy read and quite compelling. The characters aren't likeable - in fact, they're quite dislikeable, every last one of them - but somehow that didn't mar my enjoyment of the book, perhaps because they are actually perfectly believable.

This is a great light- to medium-weight read, ideal for a long train journey or the beach.

By the same author: The Sudden Departure of the Frasers is also set in leafy suburbia, and has a mystery at its heart.

Buy The Swimming Pool by Louise Candlish at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Swimming Pool by Louise Candlish at

Buy The Swimming Pool by Louise Candlish at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Swimming Pool by Louise Candlish at


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