Swimming Pool Library: when everything changes in an instant... Paperback – Sep 27 2011
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From Publishers Weekly
A fine chronicler of life's small and large catastrophes, Wickham (A Desirable Residence, 1997, etc.) delivers a workmanlike tale of separated parents who are manipulated by an ambitious young lawyer. When divorce-bound British suburbanites Louise and Barnaby Kember, temporarily reunited at a neighbor's pool party, witness a diving accident that puts their youngest daughter in the hospital, Louise's soigne new suitor, the attorney Cassian Brown, persuades them to sue. As it turns out, the politically and socially ambitious Cassian is more interested in winning a case that will bring him a connection to Louise's father, the famous Lord Page, than he is in Louise or her child. A subplot about a brilliant young piano student and a somewhat older man in the Kembers' village brings humor and a melancholy revelation at the end. If the novel drags in the middle, it's only because we can't help but wonder why it takes Louise so long to come to her senses and blast smarmy Cassian out of her life.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Kirkus Reviews
Once again, Wickham (A Desirable Residence, 1997, etc.) uses a favorite, and sometimes effective, formula: throw a large group of people together and see what mischief comes. In this case, the mischief turns tragic: At the annual charity swim at the Delanys' English manor house, little Katie hits her head on the diving board, putting her in a coma with probable brain damage and putting the villagers at odds with each other when Katie's family decides to sue for negligence. But it's not Louise and Barnaby (Katie's separated parents) who first propose suing their old friends, it's the duplicitous Cassian Brown, a social-climbing lawyer besotted with Louise's political pedigree (daughter of MP Lord Page). Cassian convinces Louise that suing is imperative to Katie's future, and, anyway, the insurance will pay. But when they find that venerable old Hugh and his dotty but well-meaning wife Ursula aren't properly covered, the novel's moral dilemma develops: Is Katie's comfort worth the ruin of Hugh and Ursula, especially since they weren't at fault? The community divides, and the town busybodies fan the fire, but for Louise and Barnaby, all that matters are Katie's slow recoveryand the court case. Meanwhile, Wickham trots out a series of secondary concerns: a romance between young Daisy, new to the village, and the much older Alexis, counsel for the defense, who recently snubbed Meredith, surrogate daughter to Hugh and Ursula. It's all a bit soapy, but Wickham salvages (just) her weakness for melodrama with page-turning pacing that quickly brings the reader to a satisfying, albeit predictable, end. Just as Katie miraculously recovers, Hugh suffers a heart attack, bringing into question not only the integrity of the court case but the possibility of a reconciliation between Louise and Barnaby. As before, Wickham is adept at creating a random mix of likable people, but the lack of substance and depth here makes it more guilty pleasure than literary treasure. -- Copyright ©1998, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.See all Product Description
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Overall though I was very impressed with this book. It's very different from some of Wickham's latest work, but I still believe will be appreciated by fans of her more recent book. I consider it a highly enjoyable and easy read.
Louise's lawyer and lover, Cassian Brown convinces her to sue her neighbor for negligence in the accident, which she does. By doing so, she has alienated the townsfolk. Meanwhile, Barnaby blames her for the accident. As the couple turns even more acrimonious towards one another, neither realize that the ambitious Cassion has his own agenda, and does not care what happens to his lover, her daughter, or the rest of her family as long as she further his political and social plans.
In a rather short period of time, Madeline Wickham has earned the reputation for writing about the effects of life's disasters on relationships. Her latest novel, SWIMMING POOL SUNDAY, enhances her deserved reputation by depicting the impact of a trauma on a couple already too deeply buried under personal troubles to even notice how they are being used. The secondary characters add humor while providing insight into the lead characters. Ms. Wickham scribes a winning tale about the down side of family relationships.