It’s summer, and for teachers Ed and Natalie Steele this means six weeks off work with their young daughter Molly. Their lives are predictable and uncomplicated — or at least they were until they meet the Faulkners.
Suddenly, glamorous Lara Faulkner, a former actress leading an eccentrically lavish lifestyle, is taking Natalie under her wing and the stability of summer takes an exciting turn.
But are there hidden motives behind this new friendship? And when the end-of-summer party at the lido is cut short by a blackout, Natalie realizes that she’s been kept in the dark all along.
This novel has such a stunning cover that immediately made me want to pick it up and start reading, and once I started this book I didn’t want to put it down!
Natalie and Ed are happily married with a teenage daughter, Molly. They have a quiet, steady life and have fallen into an easy rhythm within their family unit whereby their lives run very smoothly. The couple are a bit too earnest at times and while this grated on me a bit in the beginning, I came to understand that it was important for the story that the reader really understands how Ed and Natalie view things. Natalie, in particular, is influenced by her good friend’s opinion of her and has often turned to her for advice over the years. Natalie is a very over-protective mum and seems to need reassurance and guidance from her long-standing friend. Molly is aquaphobic after an incident in a pool when she was younger but Natalie seems to have a tight rein on her daughter at all times, not just when she is around water.
One hot summer the local lido re-opens thanks to a campaign by the glamorous Lara Faulkner and Natalie immediately feels drawn to her. The two quickly become friends and Natalie soon begins to imitate Lara and to lose all sense of herself. She spends more and more time at the Lido with her new friend and basks in the attention she gets from being there with Lara. Her relationship with Ed begins to show strain but by this point Natalie is too intoxicated by Lara to care too much.
The stifling atmosphere in the book as the heat rises is so well written. I was reading this book on a cold, dark and rainy day but I could sense the heat emanating from the pages! It gave this book such a claustrophobic feel, and made for a great catalyst for Natalie to temporarily lose who she really was.
There is a simmering tension running throughout this book. The novel goes to and fro in time, mainly throughout the course of one summer in the present day, which really adds to this building sense of foreboding as we gradually learn more about Natalie and her past. I loved how the strands of time built up to form a picture of what led these characters to where they ended up. There are a few chapters mixed in from another hot summer in 1985 when Natalie was a teenager and we slowly learn about what she and her then best friend got up to. It gives a real insight into how Natalie came to be the person she is as an adult and perhaps as to why she is so protective of her daughter. There is tension in these flashback chapters as you wonder how much it relates to the present day; it is apparent to the reader quite early on in this novel that there are secrets being kept by more than one person and that things are slowly building to a big conclusion. The final acts of this novel are so good, and while not everything that happened was a shock to me, it was all so well done that I was still on the edge of my seat.
I rated this novel 4.5 out of 5 and highly recommend it. This book will make a perfect beach read – just make sure you start it when you have an empty day ahead of you as once started you will struggle to put it down!
The Swimming Pool is due to be published on 5th May 2016 in the UK.
I received a copy of The Swimming Pool from LoveReading in exchange for an honest review. (The review seen here is a longer version of the one I submitted to LoveReading).