Michael's Reviews > The Swimming Pool

The Swimming Pool by Holly LeCraw
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May 20, 10

really liked it
bookshelves: vine-program, arc, read-in-2010
Read from May 04 to 06, 2010

Following the birth of her second child, Callie McClatchey returns to the home where she spent her summers, persuades her brother Jed to join her and hires old family friend Toni Atkinson as a summer time nanny. While cleaning out a closet in the old house, Jed stumbles across an old swimsuit that belongs to Toni's mother, Marcella. Perplexed as to why the swimsuit is there in a box, Jed returns to it Marcella and discovers she carried on an affair with her father, which was broken off the night their mother was killed. The father has since died and the culprit was never caught, though the father was a prime suspect. Jed is attracted to Marcella and enters into an affair with her, all while spurning the advances of her daughter and not telling his sister and husband who he's sneaking off to see each weekend.

In a lot of ways, it sounds like a plot ripped from the latest episode of a soap opera, but Holly LeCraw makes all the pieces work well enough that it never feels too much like a soap opera. The drama is high and we slowly find out what happened the summer leading up to the death of Jed and Callie's mother as well as seeing Callie's current struggles as a new mom. LeCraw does a nice job of keeping the narrative moving, solving the mysteries involves and looking at the impact the various relationships are having on the characters--both then and now.

The story is a tragedy as events are set into motion. Even as you shake your head at what a colossally bad idea it is for Jed and Marcella to become romantically involved, LeCraw pulls you into the sense of excitement at the forbidden and new nature of the affair. From the first page we know this won't end well, but the journey itself is worth taking and LeCraw does a good job of letting things unfold as they will. She also avoids overly dramatic moments during the course of the story (though Toni does have a few of her own in the book) and instead creates an authentic feeling universe and situation for these characters to inhabit.

It's an intriguing first novel and one that leaves me curious to see where LeCraw will go next as an author .
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