Thursday, 5 May 2016

Book Review - The Swimming Pool by Louise Candlish*

There are some books that, no matter how hard you check yourself, you have really high hopes for. And most of the time, the book can never live up to your, quite frankly, ridiculous expectations. These expectations are often borne from previous experiences with an author’s work; after all, it is impossible not to compare one book by an author with their previous ones! In 2015, I read The Sudden Departure of the Frasers by Louise Candlish and was seriously impressed. It was a compelling read; full of drama, mystery and suspense. Basically everything you need to make a bloody good book. So impressed was I, in fact, that the book made it into my top ten favourite books of 2015. So you can understand, then, that my expectations for The Swimming Pool were very, very high. But not only did The Swimming Pool meet my expectations, it surpassed them…

Louise Candlish’s novel follows Ed and Natalie Steele; teachers, who have six weeks of summer off for the school holidays to spend with their younger daughter, Molly. The days pass predictably enough, until Nat learns that the local Lido, which has stood empty for years, has been reopened. This one, innocuous event turns Nat’s life, and her family’s life, upside down, as she forms a close friendship with the eccentric actress whose efforts helped reopen the Lido; Lara Channing. As the days pass in a blur of swimming and partying, Nat lets her obligations to her husband and her daughter slip as she is swept up by the glamour of being part of Lara’s elite circle. But as Natalie is forgetting who she used to be, memories of a summer long forgotten are beginning to surface. And at the end-of-summer party at the Lido, which ends in a blackout, Natalie realizes that she’s been kept in the dark all along.

 This is an intense read; very dark and sometimes uncomfortable. And yet, it’s one that I couldn’t put down, one that I pushed aside all other commitments to finish. From the very first line, “I am running naked through the streets of Elm Hill,” I was hooked. Just that one line told me that something awful was going to happen, but what? This, then, became a nail bitingly intense journey to the big reveal. Through a series of interspersed flashbacks and flash forwards, I formed my own opinion as to how this would all end, but I was pleased to discover that it wasn’t that simple. Because the ending is anything but predictable; just as I thought I had it all figured out, the plot twisted again and I didn’t know which way was up anymore.

I knew as soon as I turned the last page that this was a book I’d be talking about for ages. Even now, weeks after shelving The Swimming Pool, I can’t get the image of Lara and Natalie out of my mind; swimming at the Lido, drinking on Lara’s terrace, squeezed into the changing hut in the dark. That’s the sign of a good book! This book definitely falls into the category of psychological thriller, and is proof, if proof were needed, that Louise Candlish is well deserving of the title of ‘bestselling author.’

The Swimming Pool by Louise Candlish is available from Amazon now.

What have you been reading recently? Let me know in the comments below!

*With thanks to Penguin Random House for sending me this ARC in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own – please view my disclaimer for further information.

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