66 Laps: A Novel

66 Laps: A Novel

4.6 8
by Leslie Lehr Spirson

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I slipped off my clothes and dove into the pool. We are 96 percent liquid. There is nothing more sensuous than a good splash against naked skin: the initial rush of cold, the smooth acquiescence of inner fluid to the outer mantle of wet.

Thirty-two-year-old Audrey Hastings swims a mile each day in her backyard pool: sixty-six laps. These meticulously


I slipped off my clothes and dove into the pool. We are 96 percent liquid. There is nothing more sensuous than a good splash against naked skin: the initial rush of cold, the smooth acquiescence of inner fluid to the outer mantle of wet.

Thirty-two-year-old Audrey Hastings swims a mile each day in her backyard pool: sixty-six laps. These meticulously counted crossings are the balm for her frustrations as a new mother, and her hedge against the insecurity she feels upon discovering her first gray hair. But the smooth waters through which she so assiduously glides grow cloudy when it becomes crystal clear that her good-looking, easy-going husband has begun an affair with a comely co-worker named Kim—who resembles Audrey, ten years younger.
        Audrey rages and stews and swims while contemplating this threat to her very existence. A fan-tasy of revenge—taking a younger lover of her own—becomes real when Audrey catches the eye of a sexy grad student at the park where she takes her two-year-old, Gina, to play.
        Audrey hesitates, resists, succumbs. And Au-drey learns that the consequences of jealousy, suspicion, and adultery can be more disastrous than she ever imagined.
        Precise, intelligent, and intense, 66 Laps is an altogether irresistible novel written with scalpel-like precision.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Audrey Hastings is a stay-at-home mom who swims a mile--66 laps--every day. For the heroine of screenwriter Spirson's fast-paced first novel, swimming is both refuge and release from the anxiety she feels when her husband, Jim, an art director of TV commercials, takes on a new assistant, Kim. A younger, more attractive version of 32-year-old Audrey, Kim stops by the house frequently, and one day she happens to leave her sunglasses by the pool; soon enough, Audrey suspects an extramarital affair. Further troubled by new gray hairs and a body she is sure is aging too quickly, Audrey finds herself sorely tempted by a young grad student she meets while at the beach with her toddler, Gina. To get back at her husband, and after a too-quick moral stocktaking, Spirson's Everywoman begins an affair of her own. For a while, Audrey feels younger, revitalized, but soon her grad student turns obsessive--and, worse, Audrey discovers she is pregnant. Jim realizes the baby isn't his, and the story line shifts from comedy to tragedy, with Gina cast in the role of innocent victim. If this sounds like a made-for-TV movie, that might not be an accident. Like all screen-ready novels, this one comes equipped with witty dialogue, a lean plot and a few terrific one-liners ("Some women marry the answer to their dreams: I married the antidote to my nightmares"), though some of the prose falls flat ("I looked heavenward for respite"). This novel, picked by John Dufresne for a 1998 Pirate's Alley William Faulkner Award, perfectly mirrors its southern California setting. Though slickly composed and smoothly engaging, on closer inspection, it lacks real substance. Agent, Deborah Grosvenor. (Mar.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|

Product Details

Cengage Gale
Publication date:
G. K. Hall Core Series
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
6.35(w) x 9.48(h) x 0.86(d)

Read an Excerpt

I slipped off my clothes and dove in the pool. We are 96 percent liquid. There is nothing more sensuous than a good splash against naked skin: the initial rush of cold, the smooth acquiescence of inner fluid to the outer mantle of wet.

I couldnít believe I hit Colleen. I was usually so polite, so full of shit. Itís true, I never really liked her. She was an all-natural vegetarian: no sugar, no fast food, a superior being all the way around. Not that I could take the Twinkie defense, I was into being healthy, just not to a point of inconvenient excess. All things in moderation. Even moderation. Her son was the attraction. He was almost two, like Gina. Well, she had plenty of other friends who liked roly-poly bugs.
I eased onto my back, floating under a halo of fruit trees. Our yard was small, but perfect. The pool was heart-shaped; not like a perfect Hallmark heart, but like the real lopsided thumper than you live or die by. It was an oasis framed by a fading redwood fence. Drifting, I could imagine valley living back when the condos were grapefruit orchards and the air smelled sweet and a person could see the pink mountains thirty miles away. Land ho! A horse neighed from a nearby ranch, a survivor. Gina loved our long walks around the neighborhood visiting the pig, the donkey and the old blacksmith who still made house calls. We knew just where to find the old West among the decorative wagon wheels and dry wishing wells. We loved it here.
A shudder woke me from my reverie. A string of twinkling Christmas lights had slipped. It dangled down against the backof the house. Jim did things 100 percent or not at all. At night, our house sparkled from every angle. December was a memory, but the holiday spirit lingered. I used to think it was his sense of romance that kept those lights up all year long. Later, I realized it was laziness. I plugged them in one Memorial Day just to be a smart-ass. I fell in love with the instant magic. They looked so darned happy. After that we kept them plugged in. So itís romance after all.

Our pink crepe myrtle and a flowering white oleander framed a perfect palm tree in the distance. It was my own personal palm tree, rising up like a bottle rocket from a flare of fuchsia bougainvillea, exploding in a burst of languid fronds. My eyes slid slowly back down the long skinny trunk past the fence into the pool.
Time to get moving. I rolled over.

Thirty years of swimming has given me the perfect form. Fingertips first, gliding under the surface, over the barrel, finish it off, elbows up. I breathed every other stroke, alternating sides on a good day.
I never felt finished unless I swam a mile. Sixty-six laps is a long way. Especially in a backyard pool designed for zebra floats and water wings. One circle equaled a twenty-five-meter lap. Sometimes it was just back and forth, back and forth, and I felt like I was trapped in a bathtub, counting down to freedom. Today it was freedom. I could tune out everything. No one could get to me. No one could stop me. A hydraulic high. It didnít matter where I was going. Chances were good that Iíd hit that perfect rhythm by lap 66.
Every life has a rhythm. The trick was to recognize the rhythm when you found it. Last September, I lay in the hammock with Gina, just after her nap. She was peaceful, sucking her bottle in the crook of my arm. I was laying there, loving her, loving Jim, loving life. The high trees were waving to me, telling me, this is it! The moment was joyful and content. The thrill of creation, the awe of immortalityóthe adrenaline rush of new motherhood.
But it was only a moment.
I tucked my head for a flip turn. My shoulders rolled forward, under. Nearly upside down, my hips twisted left by remote control. I kicked out my feet to push off Öbut the wall was not there.
Panic. For the first time, I recognized the sensation of drowning. I lifted my head up, breaking the still surface of my peaceful world. I stood, stranded in three feet of water. What happened? I tried to catch my breath; instead I caught my reflection.
A stranger stared back at me. The mutation was both subtle and violent. The invasion of gray hair at my temple, the triumph of blue veins trespassing on my thigh. I had slipped through the invisible hedge of adulthood. The voltage was high: the ravages shocking.
I was not old. But I would never be young again. I could no longer call myself a girl. I was a woman, and there was no turning back. I had reached my peak physically; now there was only downhill.
I had to find that rhythm again, that perfect rhythm, perfection.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

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66 Laps 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
leftyonkey More than 1 year ago
I thank the author for the free review copy in exchange for an honest review. This is the 2nd book by Ms. Lehr that I've read. This is a fairly short book, but a tautly written, slightly dark story of what can happen to a seemingly happily, married couple. Audrey enjoys her time in the pool. While she swims her 66 laps (one mile) she gets a chance to think, takes a break from her duties as a stay-at-home mom, and considers if she's getting old, as evidenced by the new gray hairs, and wonders if her husband Jim is having an affair with his coworker. Self doubt eats away at Audrey and she lashes out at Jim who denies an affair. One day at the park Audrey catches the eye of a young grad student. It seems so nice to have someone find her attractive. She just wants to make Jim jealous, but soon she heads down a very slippery slope. Sometimes we go too far and ruin the good thing we have. Very soon Audrey wishes she could turn back time. Go back to a happier period, but the world must get darker before it can be light again, under the cool ripples of the pool.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Yupp bree i do
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Jacob from Supernatural, I heard hes a big flirt *she shrugs*
Guest More than 1 year ago
I think that Spirson's writing talent is wonderfully illustrated in this book but I'd like to see how she did with any other of her works. The story makes the reader feel guilt and sorrow for the relationship. Spirson describes the mother-daughter relationship so well. The only reason this book did not get more stars was because the ending came to a screeching halt and felt as if it was a hurried ending.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was fabulous! Buy it!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Leslie Lehr Spirson's novel would provoke lively discussions in any book group. Surely many of us have worried about our looks, our mate's desirability to younger women. We've wrestled with our own vindictiveness, our own desires, our own guilt, our own bottomless love for our children. Her main character reflects on her own parents' failed marriage and foibles in a way that challenges us to think carefully about how our past affects our current selves. Ms. Spirson's taut writing ensures,too, that your group will actually read the book! Intelligent but not pretentious, the book is readable. Several cuts above popcorn literature, but tastes just as good.
Guest More than 1 year ago
A trip deep inside the head, heart, and soul of Audrey, a youth-and-beauty-obsessed wife and mother who loses it all because of her own lack of trust and love. Her fate becomes a contemporary vision of hell. Reads like lightning. A taut, clear and devastating story. Not to be missed.
Guest More than 1 year ago
An incredible read. A beautiful and poignant story which will make you cherish all you love as never before.