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The Infinity Pool Kindle Edition
|Length: 314 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
|Page Flip: Enabled||
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Top customer reviews
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Norrie has a confident narrative voice and a shrewd and sympathetic view of human nature, which makes her account of the goings-on at Serendipity entertaining as well as thought-provoking.
The central character is absent for much of the book: this means that the reader builds up a picture of him through the thoughts and observations of other characters, like a photographic negative – he is defined by his impact on others. When he re-emerges in his own right, his condition is so altered that we learn about other people from their decidedly contrasting (and sometimes unattractive) reactions.
The prose is occasionally lyrical – as a swimmer emerges from a pool, “The water softly shifted to a forgiving stillness” – and consistently accessible. The author is very good on the strains inherent in a globalized culture. The gulf between Serendipity’s staff and guests on the one hand and the local community on the other sours into violence, which may not be entirely surprising since, as one of the resort’s denizens observes, “Our food and our water supply are better than theirs, so we don’t eat in their restaurants or buy their fruit, except in town where it’s so touristy; most of us don’t even try to speak their language; we don’t talk to them when they come to our bar; we expect them to put up with us sunbathing naked on the beach in front of their grandmothers – and then we go on about how beautiful the country is and how fascinating the local traditions are.”
The author also has a clear-eyed view of the reality beneath picturesque Mediterranean society. A young woman considers “meeting and marrying some local man and giving birth within the time honoured local conventions, kicking just a little against restrictions on her sex because that was what each new generation did, then in turn chivvying her own daughters and unconditionally adoring her sons.”
The Infinity Pool is a well-written and acutely observed examination of diverse lives.
This was one of those surprise gems that I find now and again on Rosie's review team list. An unusual and intelligently written holiday drama, the story takes place on an unnamed island where the locals fail to find accord with the owners, staff and guests of Serendipity, a New Age/bohemian/back to nature type retreat. It centres round some jagged relationships: charismatic womaniser Adrian, village girl Maria who catches his eye, Serendipity regular Alice (wonderfully obsessive and creepy!). Then there is the effervescent Ruby who finds love with a local, female detective Chris, who isn't quite sure what she's signed up for, and Bernard, the creative writing teacher who is frustrated and bitter about his own inability to produce any work of note. Eventually the resentments and incompatibilities erupt, not only between incomers and locals but between the camp residents.
The book starts with a dramatic episode, then goes back to September 2010, which sees Adrian at his lecherous best, the camp successful, but the seeds of discontent among the villagers are already sown deep. Fast forward to June 2011, and Serendipity is all but falling apart, with key people missing, guests unhappy, and finances falling short.
The subtle characterisation in this novel is excellent; there's a hint of mockery of the New Age claptrap in some of the guests' silliness, and I smiled at the smugness of those who considered themselves more 'in touch with their feelings' than some of the newcomers (especially those who had not yet experienced the wonder of Adrian). The comparison between the simple lives of the villagers and the spoiled Northern Europeans who aim to slough off their weight of the privilege by rather self-consciously going 'back to basics' is artfully portrayed.
At the dramatic end, some of the characters who were dubious about the place find that their lives have changed for the best after all, though perhaps not in the way that Serendipity intended.
Alice is an excellent character; I spent much of the novel wishing that more was being done with her, and felt some of her potential went undiscovered by Ms Norrie, but her end scenes really worked and I decided that, in this case, less was more. The high spot the whole novel, though, is the sections from the point of view of the character who has a head injury. So good I read them twice. I've been close to someone with a brain injury and worked with some sufferers, and this gives such an insight into how it (probably) really is for them. He has quite an adventure; it's entertaining to read as well as being an eye-opener.
This is how to write a novel with a fair bit of domestic detail and without great swathes of thrills and spills, and still make it a real page turner!
Adrian Hartman runs the Serendipity holiday community on an unknown island. The location is kept foggy which is quite a difficult feat to keep all the way through a book. However, this adds to the strangeness of the setting: The British holidaying in their own cocoon and sets up the background beautifully.
Adrian starts off as a strong character. His return to normal life is portrayed with great finesse, his POV being one of the strongest in the book. All the more surprising as he goes missing both from the camp and from the book. This only underscores Norrie as a talented writer who has created a unique setting in The Infinity Pool, thus named by the obvious pool in the story with either infinite possibilities or stretching out to infinity.
Norrie almost lost me a couple of times when she goes heavily into the details about the physical aspects of maintaining Serendipity. But she managed to pull me back in when she gets back in with the plot. And although this is weak, it’s something to overlook easily when everything else is just right. Especially when Alice turns up with yet another wacky turn of her mind.
I could’ve had more of Chris. She’s very likable. Alice is memorably creepy. I can feel Adrian’s frustration as his body and mind grapple with every day life. The Infinity Pool ends with a bang, with acceptable resolutions to the various conflicts. Norrie is a writer to look forward to.
Most recent customer reviews
Jessica deftly weaves together self exploration and improvement at a holiday retreat with cultural infiltration in a plot-twisting mystery.Read more