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Swimming Pool Library: when everything changes in an instant... Paperback – Sep 27 2011

5 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Black Swan (Sept. 27 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0552776718
  • ISBN-13: 978-0552776714
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 2.3 x 19.8 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 159 g
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #167,656 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

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.

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
First of all, I am a huge Sophie Kinsella (who also writes under the pen name of Madeleine Wickham), so I am never disappointed. Her books are never the same, yet her literary style remains constant. She always keeps you guessing (what is going to happen next?) and keeps you begging for more.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0x9b988e28) out of 5 stars 97 reviews
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9b9c8108) out of 5 stars Endearing and emotional tale that makes for a quick read Dec 24 2008
By Chicago Book Addict - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Long before she penned the Shopaholic Series as Sophie Kinsella, Madeleine Wickham wrote this emotional tale about what happens when a tragic accident and the law suit that follows turns the lives of not just a family, but a whole community upside down. In the past I have been critical of some of Wickham's other work outside the Shopaholic series, finding it more formulaic and less fine tuned. However, after reading and really enjoying Remember Me? I decided to give more of her books a chance. I'm glad I decided to pick up this older work of hers. It's definitely much more emotionally charged than her later works, but this isn't a bad thing. In fact, it was a nice change of pace from the chick lit I tend to read, but still not as emotional as books by Jodi Picoult. It was very well written and did a fantastic job of holding my attention. She does a great job of developing multiple characters in such a way that you find yourself not just relating to them, but really pulling for them. There were also a couple interesting subplots with the more minor characters which added further depth to the read. I did, however, find myself a bit conflicted at the end of the book. The main story line was left very open ended. This I appreciated as sometimes books can be summed up too quickly and in a way that seems hasty. However, some of the subplots were also unresolved and left me wondering about the characters. For instance, there are several scenes in the book that involve the eldest daughter of the main couple in the story her feelings about the accident. We never really get to learn whether her feelings change or she gets any closure.
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.
18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9b9c815c) out of 5 stars FAIL !!! Nov. 29 2011
By Su-mi - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Swimming Pool Sunday is about an incident that occurs at a swimming pool and a resulting lawsuit. There's a small subplot concerning a leather skinned middleaged man who seduces an 18 year old girl which definitely gives the book a crawling skin "ewwwwwww" factor. The book as a whole is a fail. Madeleine Wickham seems to write better stories under her Sophie Kinsella moniker. The female protagonist and other female characters in Swimming Pool Sunday are bitter, angry and unlikable. Even the child, Amelia, is angry. In fact the only character in the book I found likable was the husband, Barnaby, but even he was angry the majority of the time. The characters of Ursula and Daisy are both vapid and mind-numbingly weak although in Daisy's defense she is a talented pianist and could mature into a strong, independent young woman -- but that is entirely up to the reader's imagination. The author's depiction of the lawyers as being conniving, greedy and smarmy is pretty spot-on. I thought this book was boring and didn't care about the characters because they were all so unlikable. The ending was unsatisfying as it left the Meredith character seething with unforgiveness. I can't really recommend this book.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9b9c8438) out of 5 stars Not the same spark Sept. 3 2013
By Jen Williams - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have read all of Kinsella and Wickham's books and I have to say, I find all the Wickham books to be fairly dull. The thing that I love the most about Kinsella's books are the humor and character development, and I find none of that in her books written under Wickham. This book is okay, it actually has a much more interesting plot line than her other books, but the characters have no layers, they are all quite superficial. In this book, one of the climax moments is a love interest between two mismatched characters. I imagine the author thought this would be a highlight of the book but I found myself not caring in the least because there was so little development in this plot line. I never understood why these characters were even in the book. I can't recommend the book as a whole, but I wish someone would take the central plot and rewrite it, because I think it would be an interesting book.
7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9b9c8330) out of 5 stars Swimming Pool Sunday book Jan. 3 2009
By Dennis F. Bernier - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
My wife would like to read everything written by Madeleine Wickham, aka Sophie Kinsella, and this was the last book we found that she had not read. It is different from the others as it does not have the humor factor, but is more serious. However, it still is a good read.
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9b9c8540) out of 5 stars Good read, has a charm all its' own April 12 1998
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Hardcover
In Melbrook, England Louise and Barnaby Kember are divorcing each other. In spite of their personal animosities towards each other, they still go to the annual charity swimming party. However, this year a tragedy occurs when their daughter is injured in a poolside accident.
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.
Harriet Klausner

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