The Pools
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The Pools

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3.47 of 5 stars 3.47  ·  rating details  ·  51 ratings  ·  11 reviews
“A complex anatomy of a murder. Bethan Roberts is a fearless writer. . . . A compelling debut.”—Louise Welsh

“A cool and relevant novel . . . an urban Cold Comfort Farm . . . expertly crafted.”—Sunday Express

Middle England, mid-1980s: the kind of place where nothing ever happens. Except something has happened: A fifteen-year-old boy called Robert has died down by the pools....more
Paperback, 288 pages
Published October 1st 2008 by Serpent's Tail (first published October 1st 2007)
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Shana
From the very beginning of Bethan Roberts' taut, haunting debut novel, we know that something awful has happened: Howard and Kathryn's son has died. But we don't know how, or why.

After alluding to Robert's death in the prologue, the author deftly takes the reader back in time through the eyes of the novel's two narrators: Howard and Robert's teenage classmate, Joanna.

The fact of Robert's death bookends this story, but the bulk of the novel and what makes it such an appealing read is what happens...more
Lainy
Time taken to read - 1 day

Blurb From Goodreads

“A complex anatomy of a murder. Bethan Roberts is a fearless writer. . . . A compelling debut.”—Louise Welsh“A cool and relevant novel . . . an urban Cold Comfort Farm . . . expertly crafted.”—Sunday ExpressMiddle England, mid-1980s: the kind of place where nothing ever happens. Except something has happened: A fifteen-year-old boy called Robert has died down by the pools. And half a dozen lives will come unraveled. The Pools subtly reveals the tensi...more
Jo at Jaffareadstoo
I read this book over the space of a couple of afternoons, and whilst it is a quick read, it is still a powerful story.

Told through a sequence of narratives, The Pools follows the lives of Howard and Kathryn, both damaged individuals in their own way , with the consequence of this damage being followed into the next generation. Their son Robert, is fighting for his own independence, and the need to become his own person. At the same time, Joanna, a school friend of Robert's is struggling with he...more
Ian Mapp
This is a debut novel and starts off with a wonderful sense of dread and fear. Everyday events all seem to have a sinister undercurrent, which is mainly caused by the foreshadowing when we know that the child Robert is dead - found at the eponymous pools.

The book then starts to lose its way, as it is told from the view point of the emotionally stunted father, howard, the mother, kathryn and a friend - a chav trolloppe, joanne.

Once the early promise and sinister atmosphere wears off - it moves in...more
Anne
I finally got around to reading The Pools, it's been sitting on my shelf for far too long!

I really enjoyed this debut novel, it's a very complex story, and Roberts has dealt with it very well. The reader knows from the off that Robert is dead, and the story then goes back over the years, narrated alternatively by Howard; Robert's father and Joanna; Robert's class mate. There is an underlying air of tension and almost bleakness throughout the story. As relationships develop, and fail, the reader...more
Jayne Charles
As dark, moody and mysterious as its cover, this was a thoroughly enjoyable read. The blurb paints it as a sort of murder mystery, but it’s actually the story of the events leading up to a death, and an examination of the personalities involved. It is character-based fiction at its very best, the author writing with a quiet confidence, depicting the victim’s father, Howard, with particular skill. As ill at ease with himself as he is with his wife and son, he is a fascinating character. I was les...more
Catherine
Couldn't stop reading this (finished it in 2 days). Very well written first novel. Starts with a death and rewinds the story to explain the relationships of those involved. More a character study than a murder mystery. Characters realistic, set in the UK in the 80s. Leaves you feeling sad and with some unanswered questions (in a way that fits the plot and makes it more realistic). I will look for more from this author.
Ali
Set in a fictionalized version of where I live, whuch I found extraordinarily distracting for some reason.
Claire
Absolutely amazing, brilliantly written. I devoured it.
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Bethan Roberts was born in Oxford and grew up in nearby Abingdon. Her first novel 'The Pools' was published in 2007 and won a Jerwood/Arvon Young Writers’ Award. Her second novel 'The Good Plain Cook', published in 2008, was serialized on BBC Radio 4’s Book at Bedtime and was chosen as one of Time Out’s books of the year. Her third novel 'My Policeman' is published by Chatto and Windus in February...more
More about Bethan Roberts...
My Policeman The Good Plain Cook Mother Island Der Liebhaber meines Mannes (German Edition)

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