A huge thank you to Francesca Russell, who sent me a beautiful hardback copy of The Swimming Pool by Louise Candlish.
I waited until my recent holiday to Menorca before tucking into The Swimming Pool, and spent the majority of my time either on the beach or at the hotel swimming pool, devouring each chapter.
The main character, Natalie Steele, is an instantly likeable and relatable character. A teacher, wife and mother of a teen daughter, Natalie Steele understands the hardships faced by a middle-class family living in London.
Her daughter, Molly, suffers from aquaphobia – an abnormal fear of water – which is so bad that she tenses at even the mention of “lido”. Natalie, ridden with guilt from an incident that happened when Molly was a baby, suffers equally, if not more, with her daughter.
Continuing with their autonomous – but not unhappy – way of life, the Steeles’ lives are changed forever with the opening of the lido around the corner – and in more ways than you might originally think!
Louise Candlish writes in a way that resonates and stays with the reader. I felt a strong emotional connection to all of the characters involved; stronger than I normally would when reading. I feel this just shows the extent of Candlish’s skills as an author.
There’s a sense of transparency and honesty that makes each of the characters more human; more like you and me. Like Natalie Steele feeling guilty about her enjoying swimming at the lido, despite her daughter’s phobia, and her Husband, Ed, loving her unconditionally but never able to forgive her for what she did.
As the book continues, the story gets progressively more dark. But the change is subtle and Candlish is clever; she develops such a strong bond between reader and character that no matter how dark the story gets, you keep defending and justifying her actions. A few times between breaks I would catch myself thinking about The Swimming Pool, and how I’d been tricked into thinking that certain situations that I would usually deem unacceptable, could actually be acceptable under the right circumstances!
I’m usually able to predict/expose the plot of a story fairly early on, but The Swimming Pool kept me guessing until the very end, with unexpected twists and turns along the way. I LOVED that it was so unpredictable; it made it much more exciting to read (and keep reading!).
If I had one criticism, it would have to be ‘teasing’ opening hook – the very first chapter of The Swimming Pool. Obviously it’s a very effective tactic to have such a powerful and dramatic opening sequence, but when the full story was revealed I was slightly disappointed and almost felt a bit cheated.
Luckily I can forgive Candlish because of the rest of the book is so good, but others might not be so forgiving.(4 / 5)