The Swimming Pool
It’s summer when Elm Hill lido opens, having stood empty for years. For Natalie Steele – wife, mother, teacher – it offers freedom from the tightly controlled routines of work and family. Especially when it leads her to Lara Channing, a charismatic former actress with a lavish bohemian lifestyle, who seems all too happy to invite Natalie into her elite circle. Soon Natalie is spending long days at the pool, socializing with new friends and basking in a popularity she didn’t know she’d been missing. Real life, and the person she used to be, begins to feel very far away. But is such a change in fortunes too good to be true? Why are dark memories of a summer long ago now threatening to surface? And, without realizing, could Natalie have been swept dangerously out of her depth?
Everyone was talking about this book, so I knew I had to read it. I must say I was captivated from the very first page: this is one of those addictive books where you can’t seem to stop reading. The plot is never slow and you want to know what really happened.
It’s funny because when I read the title for the first time, I inmediately thought about the movie with Alain Delon, Romy Schneider and Jane Birkin. Turns out the film is mentioned several times and is kind of a metaphor for whatever is happening in the book. I liked that.
Natalie is a seemingly normal teacher who befriends Lara Channing, a rich and impressive socialite who quickly makes her feel like one she’s part of the group. Natalie is fascinated by all the attention and starts “abandoning” her family and friends for her new acquaintance. I wanted to disike Natalie, but I found myself understanding how she felt, and that is only because of Louise’s writing, who manages to make Natalie likeable and fragile, struggling to figure out who she really is.
At the same time, we know something terrible happened at the end of the summer, something that is threatening Natalie’s marriage and is related to both her daughter and Lara’s. And it happened at a swimming pool party, where Natalie and Lara have been spending most of her summer days. In addition, in some of the chapters, Natalie reminisces a childhood summer many years ago when she and a friend did something terrible to one of the local girls. And how is this related to the present story?
This is a dark psychological story about obssession, toxic relationships, money and power. A beautifully narrated tale of seduction and danger that you won’t be able to put down. I enjoyed reading how everything unfolded and I truly didn’t know how the story would end. I thought I had it figured it out, but I was wrong (yay!). And, of course, I absolutely loved the last chapter. Who didn’t?
P.S: By the way, this is the perfect companion for Liane Moriarty’s Truly Madly Guilty. I found both of them pretty similar. Did anyone else notice this?
I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.