Not everyone knows that Madeline Wickham is Sophie Kinsella. But it’s true and for awhile, Madeline Wickham wrote under her own name (Sophie Kinsella is a pen name) and “Swimming Pool Sunday” was one of those books released under Madeline Wickham.
I picked up “Swimming Pool Sunday” with the assumption that it would be another quirky, chick-lit novel filled with romance and comedic moments. “Swimming Pool Sunday” has a touch of romance, not much comedy, and is more sad than anything else. The story is told by several different people, mainly from two families. There are the Delaney’s, Ursula and Hugh along with their recently widowed daughter-in-law, Meredith. Then there are the Kembers, Barnaby, Louise, and their daughters Amelia and Katie. Barnaby and Louise separated and Louise is seeing another man, a lawyer named Cassian. The other characters who also tell the story are Alexis (also a lawyer) and Daisy, the new girl in town.
“Swimming Pool Sunday” comes once a year when the Delaney’s open their home and their swimming pool to the neighborhood. Ursula and Hugh have made this annual tradition a big event so that when Amelia and Katie realize that they are going to miss it because it is their weekend with their dad they get very upset. Everyone makes it to the pool, but it is not the happy occasion it once was and while Barnaby is hanging out with Hugh and trying to stay upbeat about the fact that his wife asked him to move out, Louise is convinced that everyone in the small village is judging her as being the woman who left her husband because she was involved with another man. It doesn’t help that the other man is a younger one who is trying to prove himself as a lawyer. In addition to these personal dramatics something even more upsetting occurs during “Swimming Pool Sunday”. Life really can change in an instant and lives do change.
So it is on “Swimming Pool Sunday” that everyone is interacting with each other and it is also where Daisy and Alexis meet. I’m not really sure why these two were considered important enough to be telling their stories in the book. They only had appearances a few different times and it felt a little forced. Really, the main characters were Barnaby and Louise with Cassian up there as well. Hugh and Ursula were ever present, but did a very small amount of actual narrating. More often Meredith was the one narrating when Hugh and Ursula were involved.
I don’t want to give too much away because that’s half the fun of reading a book. But I will say this, although the book is well written because I don’t think Madeline Wickham/Sophie Kinsella can produce anything not well written…this wasn’t my favorite. I didn’t like the intense seriousness of this novel. I also found it harder to relate to Louise who is arguably the main female character because she wasn’t really a good person. I definitely sided with Barnaby, especially the more I got to know Cassian and his character. (I mean really, who would fall for a lawyer?) Overall, the book was worth reading, but I wouldn’t recommend picking it up if you were looking for a light-hearted beach read. Would I recommend this book? Yes and no…I think that it was a good book, but since I was looking for something different when I picked it up I was a little taken aback. I think it is a book that would be more enjoyable if you weren’t going into it with the expectation that you were going into a romantic comedy world. Still worth the read though.