“ Genre: Fiction / Author: Madeleine Wickham / Paperback / 304 pages / Book published 2004-08-02 by Black Swan „
I am a huge fan of all books by Sophie Kinsella. I have read every one of her books on more than one occasion. I was getting a little tired and impatient of waiting for her to release another book so I decided to visit her website to see if there was any information as to when she is due to release another book and what I found out to my surprise is that she writes under two names Sophie Kinsella and her real name Madeleine Wickham. I have now slowly started making my way through the books by Madeleine Wickham and I loved Sleeping Arrangements and Wedding Girl and have now picked up Swimming Pool Sunday to read.
The books written under Madeleine Wickham are a completely different style of book compared to Sophie Kinsella books. I think they feel more mature and more of a believable storyline but they do not hold the humour factor which the books by Sophie Kinsella have. Having said this I still have enjoyed both styles of books.
Louise and Barnaby Kenmber have recently split up. Their two children Katie and Amelia still live at home with mummy Louise and Barnaby comes to see the girls once a week. When he arrives to take the girls fishing the girls do not want to go as it is the same day that Ursula and Hugh Delaney open up their swimming pool for all of the village to come for the day to raise money for charity. Although Barnaby is not happy about this it is what the girls want to do so they all head off to the Delaney's.
As the day begins to draw to an end Barnaby expresses his anger to Louise about not being able to spend enough time with the girls and it is whilst this happens that Katie has an accident and is rushed to hospital in a coma fighting for her life.
The new love of Louise's life is Cassian who works as a lawyer and he insists straight away the best thing to do for Katie's sake is to sue the Delaney's for the accident. Trouble is the Delaney's and the Kenmber's are friends and have had enough tragedy in their lives. Will Katie be ok and will the Kenmber's decide to take their friends to court?
** My Opinion**
As i mentioned this is a different style of writing compared to Sophie Kinsella books. There is no humour in this book at all. Aside from the plot I mentioned above there was also a side storyline about an older man Alexis who is friends with the Delaneys, who begins to have a relationship with 18 year old Daisy who has just moved to the village. I didn't really feel this fit into the book. I would have much preferred if they took the side storyline back into the relationship with Louise and Barnaby before they split so we could get to know their characters a little more.
I don't feel as though we was given enough connection with Louise she came across as quite a cold character so I didn't connect to her and feel the emotion we should feel for this lady who could be losing her daughter.
Before the accident the two sisters Katie and Amelia had such a close bond so Katie's accident must have affected Amelia in a big way this was slightly touched upon and I enjoyed this part of the book but I do think this could have been used a little more.
This book in my opinion is not a challenging read and the storyline slowly paces along. I do feel that this is a book which will be forgotten about in a few weeks as there was nothing shining about this book. Unfortunately this book is not in the same league as the previous Madeleine Wickham books or Sophie Kinsella books. It will not be a book which I shall read again and also not one which I would recommend in a hurry.
You may have heard of Sophie Kinsella, author of the popular Shopaholic series of books which were recently made into a film starring Isla Fisher. You may not know however, that before writing as Sophie Kinsella, the author wrote seven books under her own name, Madeleine Wickham. Having read all of the Sophie Kinsella books, I decided I'd try reading the Madeleine Wickham novels. I knew that the reason the books were written under two different names was that they are written in different styles, but figured that since they were still the same person chances were I'd enjoy them anyway. The first I read was Swimming Pool Sunday...
The story revolves around two families living in the same village - the Kembers and the Delaneys.
The Delaney family consists of Hugh, Ursula and their daughter in law Meredith. Meredith is American and has been living with her in-laws since her husband - Hugh and Ursula's son - passed away. On one Sunday every year the Delaneys open up their home and their swimming pool and invite everyone in the village to a huge pool party, all in the name of charity.
When young sisters Amelia and Katie Kember decide they want to attend the pool party, their father Barnaby is not happy. Since he split with their mother Louise, he only gets to see them once a week and had been planning on taking them fishing. After much argument, the girls pester power wins and they all end up at the Delaney's house, Louise included.
Aside from a few nasty looks between Louise and Barnaby the day seems to be going well. That is until tragedy strikes and young Katie has an accident which leaves her in a coma. As she lies in hospital, Louise's new boyfriend Cassian - a lawyer - gets involved, and suddenly accusations are flying about, there are fallings out, and jealousy is taking over, pushing the needs of the sick Katie into the background...
This book is certainly very different from the Sophie Kinsella novels. It's really hard to describe the style - it's definitely women's fiction, but I don't think I'd actually call this chick-lit. If I had to compare it to any other authors work, I'd have to say it's a little bit like Katie Fford's books, in that the writing style is a little old fashioned at times, as well as the fact it has a countryside setting. Also, as you can probably tell from the plot line it's not quite as light and airy as the Kinsella books.
The opening pages of this book feature Amelia and Katie playing French skipping in their back garden, waiting for their dad to arrive. I found the interaction between the sisters really sweet, and the dialogue between the two intrigued me into wanting to find out more about the girls and the split between their parents. I thought it was a little bit disappointing that we saw less of the children after the accident, as I would have liked to have seen more from the character of Amelia especially, to have gotten her take on the situation with her sister.
The girls father Barnaby was a character I liked immediately, I really felt for him, in that he was only just adjusting to life away from his children, and had to cope with seeing his ex-wife with her toy boy lover Cassian too, which can't have been easy to deal with. Louise though, was a character I found hard to judge. She seemed 'nice' at best and although I could understand that she was caught between a rock and a hard place at times, I never really felt we learned enough about the character to understand the way her mind worked.
Cassian on the other hand I took an immediate dislike to, and I actually found it refreshing to read something with a male villain, rather than a bitchy female character, which is the route most books tend to go down.
The other family, the Delaney's do not feature as much but I did particularly like Ursula, the forgetful, middle-aged, middle-class mother, who was written really well. I also liked the way the book drew parallels between the Kember's situation with Katie and the situation the Delaney's had found themselves in several years ago when their son, Meredith's husband, had been in a coma himself.
After being drawn in straight away, I felt things moved a little more slowly after that, and the book did seem to keep a rather gentle pace throughout. This is not a book with a huge amount of twists or turns, yet the style is fairly easy to read and it flows nicely most of the time. One thing I didn't particularly like however, was the fact that we often seemed to see too much of characters who had little relevance to the actual story. There are two characters - Daisy and Alexis - who had little to do with the swimming pool incident, nor the families involved, yet we frequently go back to them and see into their lives, which I didn't like as it seemed there was no real reason for this other than page filling.
Overall, although this was an easy read, and at just 300 pages also a relatively short read, I came away feeling a little bit disappointed. The story sounded very promising from the blurb and I felt it didn't quite fulfil its potential. I think perhaps a few more twists and turns, a little more drama, and less of the secondary characters, would have made it much more readable, so unfortunately I feel that I can only give it two stars.