The Tennis Party

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Overview

Mixed doubles, anyone?

A hilarious, deadly, 'friendly' tennis tournament weekend, which is really about anything but tennis!

It was Patrick's idea that they should have the tennis party weekend. After all, he had the perfect setting – the White House. Bought out of his bonuses as an investment salesman, ...

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Overview

Mixed doubles, anyone?

A hilarious, deadly, 'friendly' tennis tournament weekend, which is really about anything but tennis!

It was Patrick's idea that they should have the tennis party weekend. After all, he had the perfect setting – the White House. Bought out of his bonuses as an investment salesman, it was complete with stable, cocktail bar, jacuzzi, shell-shaped bedheads and, of course, the tennis court (towered over by an authentic Wimbledon-green umpire's chair).

He hadn't actually told Caroline, his brash and beautiful wife, what the real reason for the party was. And if she suspected that he had a hidden agenda, she managed to hide it in a cloud of Pimm's-induced laughter. She was glad to welcome Stephen and Annie, their impoverished former neighbours, less glad to see newly wealthy Charles and his aristocratic wife Cressida, and barely able to tolerate the deadly competitive Don and Valerie.

As the four couples gathered on the sunny terrace, it seemed obvious who was winning in life and who was losing. But by the end of the party, nothing would be certain.

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Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
A young English writer's debut assembles a nasty gang of upwardly mobile friends at a houseparty in the British countryside—and lets them at one another's throats over tennis and cocktails.

Patrick Chance's tennis party is not about tennis: He needs to sell a pricey and questionable investment plan in order to reap a cushy bonus. So he and his wife, Caroline, have invited a likely buyer: their old pal Charles, who's come into money by marrying an heiress, the ultraspoiled Cressida. Also invited for the weekend are penniless Annie and Stephen, both salt-of-the-earth types, and neighbors Don and Valerie, a vulgar father-daughter duo who truly care about winning the tournament. Cressida finds Caroline trashy, and she hates the fact that the Chances are friends from Charles's bohemian youth. Patrick slimily tries to sell his lemon plan to Charles and is politely blown off; in a dither because he fears the loss of his bonus, he turns his salesman ways on trusting Stephen and convinces him to take a second mortgage out on his house to invest in the fund. Then Ella, the great love of Charles's youth, shows up uninvited, just back from a world tour. After a drunken dinner, she and Charles slither off to the garden. Later, puffed up by his adulterous conquest, Charles slips into his bedroom only to discover—via a letter—that his wife's finances are so shaky that they now face financial ruin. The finals of the tournament turn into a verbal melee as Stephen realizes he's been had by Patrick, and Cressida finds out about Charles's infidelity. Recriminations are exchanged all around before this houseparty from hell adjourns for the weekend.

Despite its contrivances, this featherweight comedy delivers a decided satisfaction: pleasingly humiliating comeuppances for all its odious characters.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780552772235
  • Publisher: Transworld Publishers Limited
  • Publication date: 7/1/2004
  • Pages: 240
  • Product dimensions: 5.00 (w) x 7.75 (h) x 0.50 (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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