I’ve been lucky enough to have had a little break away in Spain last week and just before I went I was faced with the challenging decision of picking my holiday reads. It was just a short haul flight, hand luggage only, so I had to choose wisely as I didn’t have much space to transport a library! I noticed The Swimming Pool in my waiting pile and figured this was the perfect time to start it.
With summer on the horizon, suburban town Elm Hill reopens it’s lido following a prominent renovation campaign headed by sensational suburbanite Lara Channing. Teacher Natalie Steele is drawn to the lido with its alluring social scene and to Lara herself, despite her daughter Molly’s deep phobia of water.
As she gets closer to Lara and her new glamorous friends, Natalie begins to rail against the stereotypes of being a sensible school teacher and prim housewife, much to the disapproval of her husband Ed and old friends she finds herself drifting away from.
But along with the highs of her new social life, Natalie also finds herself haunted by memories of a childhood summer at another large body of water which changed her life forever. Soon she is left wondering if her new found friendship is everything that it seems, if her marriage can take the strain of the changes in her life and who she is as a person.
The lido was a great setting for this novel as it made for an interesting social backdrop for the characters to meet and also a place to explore Molly’s water phobia. I also liked how wealthy Lara’s obsession with swimming and vintage films added some glitz to the story, conjuring images of Hollywood pool parties, old-fashioned swimming baths and stunning summer evenings. If you Google ‘Poolside Glamor’ by Slim Aarons (as referenced in the book), you’ll get an idea of this.
I actually found that reading this book poolside added something extra to the story. Not to say that it is an essential reading location, but being near open water helped me gain a bigger feel for the events in the book which I very much enjoyed!
Layered into the story are some quite dark undertones and mature themes. The way the story kept bouncing back and forth in time really helped build up the suspense. There is a mystery Natalie’s past that is often referred to, marital strains for the Steeles all linking back to the Channings, and poor Molly’s phobia and how it affects all of the family’s lives.
Pacy, engrossing and unpredictable, The Swimming Pool is an excellent summer thriller to devour at home or away.