Swimming Pool Sunday

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Overview

When everything changes in an instant. . .

On a shimmeringly hot Sunday in May, the Delaneys opened their pool to the entire village for charity. Louise was there, so were her daughters Amelia and Katie – and so, glaring at her resentfully, was her estranged husband Barnaby. While the children splashed and shrieked in the cool, blue waters, Louise lay blissfully back in the sun and dreamed of Cassian, the charismatic new lawyer in her life. The...

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Overview

When everything changes in an instant. . .

On a shimmeringly hot Sunday in May, the Delaneys opened their pool to the entire village for charity. Louise was there, so were her daughters Amelia and Katie – and so, glaring at her resentfully, was her estranged husband Barnaby. While the children splashed and shrieked in the cool, blue waters, Louise lay blissfully back in the sun and dreamed of Cassian, the charismatic new lawyer in her life. The day seemed perfect.

But suddenly the perfect day was shattered, as tragedy struck and the needs of a child became secondary to the dangerous contest in which the grown-ups were engaged.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
A fine chronicler of life's small and large catastrophes, Wickham (A Desirable Residence, 1997, etc.) delivers a workmanlike tale of separated parents who are manipulated by an ambitious young lawyer. When divorce-bound British suburbanites Louise and Barnaby Kember, temporarily reunited at a neighbor's pool party, witness a diving accident that puts their youngest daughter in the hospital, Louise's soign new suitor, the attorney Cassian Brown, persuades them to sue. As it turns out, the politically and socially ambitious Cassian is more interested in winning a case that will bring him a connection to Louise's father, the famous Lord Page, than he is in Louise or her child. A subplot about a brilliant young piano student and a somewhat older man in the Kembers' village brings humor and a melancholy revelation at the end. If the novel drags in the middle, it's only because we can't help but wonder why it takes Louise so long to come to her senses and blast smarmy Cassian out of her life. (Apr.)
Library Journal
Nadelson's successful debut mixes police procedural with political intrigue. When an unknown assailant murders a KGB general-turned-author on a TV talk show, one of the first to investigate is family friend Artie Cohen, a New York cop who grew up in Moscow. Although on leave, Artie competes with federal agents and others as he scours Brighton Beach's Russian migr community for clues. Attacks and warnings serve only to strengthen his resolve, which finally takes him back to Moscow in pursuit of "atomic gangsters." Fast-moving action, a scary scenario, and hidden backgrounds make this a good choice for most collections.
Kirkus Reviews
Once again, Wickham (A Desirable Residence, 1997, etc.) uses a favorite, and sometimes effective, formula: throw a large group of people together and see what mischief comes. In this case, the mischief turns tragic: At the annual charity swim at the Delanys' English manor house, little Katie hits her head on the diving board, putting her in a coma with probable brain damage and putting the villagers at odds with each other when Katie's family decides to sue for negligence. But it's not Louise and Barnaby (Katie's separated parents) who first propose suing their old friends, it's the duplicitous Cassian Brown, a social-climbing lawyer besotted with Louise's political pedigree (daughter of MP Lord Page). Cassian convinces Louise that suing is imperative to Katie's future, and, anyway, the insurance will pay. But when they find that venerable old Hugh and his dotty but well-meaning wife Ursula aren't properly covered, the novel's moral dilemma develops: Is Katie's comfort worth the ruin of Hugh and Ursula, especially since they weren't at fault? The community divides, and the town busybodies fan the fire, but for Louise and Barnaby, all that matters are Katie's slow recoveryþand the court case. Meanwhile, Wickham trots out a series of secondary concerns: a romance between young Daisy, new to the village, and the much older Alexis, counsel for the defense, who recently snubbed Meredith, surrogate daughter to Hugh and Ursula. It's all a bit soapy, but Wickham salvages (just) her weakness for melodrama with page-turning pacing that quickly brings the reader to a satisfying, albeit predictable, end. Just as Katie miraculously recovers, Hugh suffers a heart attack,bringing into question not only the integrity of the court case but the possibility of a reconciliation between Louise and Barnaby. As before, Wickham is adept at creating a random mix of likable people, but the lack of substance and depth here makes it more guilty pleasure than literary treasure.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312181888
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 3/2/1998
  • Edition description: 1st U.S. Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 304
  • Product dimensions: 5.69 (w) x 8.49 (h) x 1.09 (d)

Meet the Author

Sophie Kinsella

Madeleine Wickham also writes as Sophie Kinsella, the number one bestselling author of Can You Keep a Secret? and the hugely popular Shopaholic novels.

Biography

When we first meet Becky Bloomwood in Sophie Kinsella's Confessions of a Shopaholic, she's a financial journalist in London who's quickly realizing that though she may be a writer for Successful Saving magazine, she could use help practicing what she preaches. She's helplessly driving herself into debt buying things she can't afford, at one point rationalizing that buying something 30 percent off is actually saving money. Becky was a hit with readers and spawned a franchise for Kinsella. In subsequent books, readers have followed her through a temptingly whirlwind series of adventures, with her best friend, Suze, and Luke, the love of her life, often along for the ride.

The Shopaholic books are little tours of fabulousness, where objects are introduced not as incidental to the story but as key players. Becky may not attend to certain life details such as bills or space to store all of her purchases, but she knows how to pay proper homage to the details in a dress or a vintage cocktail table. When she packs for a trip, we get the list of what she's bringing. What's more, she rationalizes and justifies purchases before you can say, "Credit or cash?" (The answer for Becky, by the way, is usually credit.)

Those who value integrity or depth in their fictional characters would be well advised to steer clear of Becky; but Shopaholic fans identify with her weaknesses, finding her more sympathetic than sinister. She can be maddening in her lack of discipline or self-reflectiveness, but Kinsella has taken a cue from Jane Austen's Emma by infusing her character with enough optimism, heart, and generous spirit to overcome her faults. Becky always reassuringly lands right-side-up, making these books a fun flight of fancy.

The author has interspersed her popular series with a handful of stand-alone confections featuring protagonists as charming and deliciously funny as the Shopaholic. Fortunately for her many fans, Sophie Kinsella has a seemingly inexhaustible supply of affection for her characters. May it fuel many books to come!

Good To Know

Some outtakes from our interview with Kinsella:

"I am a serial house mover: I have moved house five times in the last eight years! But I'm hoping I might stay put in this latest one for a while."

"I've never written a children's book, but when people meet me for the first time and I say I write books, they invariably reply, 'Children's books?' Maybe it's something about my face. Or maybe they think I'm J. K. Rowling!"

"If my writing comes to a halt, I head to the shops: I find them very inspirational. And if I get into real trouble with my plot, I go out for a pizza with my husband. We order a pitcher of Long Island Iced Tea and start talking -- and basically keep drinking and talking till we've figured the glitch out. Never fails!"

"Favorite leisure pursuits: a nice hot bath, watching The Simpsons, playing table tennis after dinner, shopping, playing the piano, sitting on the floor with my two small boys, and playing building blocks and Legos."

"Least favorite leisure pursuit: tidying away the building blocks and Legos."

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    1. Also Known As:
      Madeleine Wickham (real name)
    2. Hometown:
      London, England
    1. Date of Birth:
      December 12, 1969
    2. Place of Birth:
      London, England
    1. Education:
      B.A. in Politics, Philosophy and Economics, Oxford University, 1990; M.Mus., King's College, London, 1992
    2. Website:

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 18, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    I love books by Madeleine Wickham (aka Sophie Kinsella). However

    I love books by Madeleine Wickham (aka Sophie Kinsella). However, this book was only alright for me. It wasn't anything like the other books she has written; Confessions of a Shopaholic, Can You Keep a Secret? etc. It mainly details the trials and tribulations of friends who essentially become enemies when a little girl gets hurt at a swimming pool. All in all though it was okay, and if your a fan of Kinsella/Wickham pick this up.

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