- Paperback: 307 pages
- Publisher: Anchor; Reprint edition (April 19, 2011)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0307474445
- ISBN-13: 978-0307474445
- Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.6 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 9.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 59 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,157,539 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Swimming Pool Paperback – April 19, 2011
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Holly LeCraw on The Swimming Pool
I’m a Southerner born and bred, and I grew up going to the beach for a couple of weeks every year in South Carolina, where the water is as warm as your bath, the pace is slow, and the fake-bamboo furniture is comfortable. Then, after a move to Boston that still baffles even me, I met my husband, who summered. (In all fairness, his family would be loath to use that word; nevertheless, when you decamp to the coast for the entire summer, every summer, that’s summering.) Moreover, they summered on Cape Cod, in a very old house built to withstand howling winter winds (small windows, fireplaces, and low ceilings), and where the decor was not, um, tropical. The water was often freezing. The air was often freezing. In August.
As I’ve begun talking to people about my debut novel, The Swimming Pool, I’ve noticed that one of the most popular questions people ask is “Where did you get the idea for your book?” and that, often, what they are really asking is, “Is it autobiographical?” It’s hard to believe that writers make up stories out of thin air, and for good reason: they don’t. Somewhere, in every book, there are elements hidden of the writer, of the writer’s family, the writer’s history and experience. The best description I have heard is “refracted autobiography”--emphasis on refracted. For instance, The Swimming Pool is the story of a young man, Jed McClatchey, who is mired in grief for his parents, who died seven years previously--his mother in a still-unsolved break-in/murder. Jed falls in love and begins an affair with an older woman, Marcella Atkinson, who he then learns was his late father’s mistress; as one might imagine, complications and revelations ensue.
Now. I am happily married. My parents are both alive. I don’t know anyone who was murdered. I am not Italian (Marcella is). I don’t know any cougars personally. It is all made up.
Except for the fact that this book is set on Cape Cod, and Marcella, an expatriate from a warm and sunny clime, is mystified by it. And except that Jed, who just happens to be a Southerner, has grown up summering there. Which is not usual for a boy from Atlanta. One might say that I have split myself between my two protagonists: I have the woman who feels like a constant outsider; I have the man who loves being somewhere different, who knows how different it is from his birthplace and yet who gets it. Because I think I finally get the Cape, after twenty-something years. Or maybe I just get it enough to fake it. I can still stand a bit outside. I can see it clearly, in a way that it is sometimes hard for me to see the places where I grew up.
It is the quintessential stance of the writer: you’ve got to blend in. You’ve got to pass. You’ve got to get people to forget that you’re watching, hard. And, really, they shouldn’t be nervous; the things writers notice, or that I notice, anyway, are not the things one might expect. In this case, there was a story I heard long ago about a family I barely knew, where the middle--aged husband left his high-school-sweetheart wife--a sad, but garden-variety, occurrence. For some reason, it stuck in my head. And then it combined with the feel of the sun beating down on a clay tennis court in the woods (a court I decidedly watched from the outside; I couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn with a tennis ball), with the cast-in-amber interior of a beloved old Yankee house, and with the sort of crime one might read about in the newspaper and then promptly forget. My own experience with postpartum depression was given to a secondary character, and intensified. My one trip ever to the Connecticut coast yielded a place for Marcella’s escape. And on and on.
Where did I get the idea for the book? I have no idea. Is it autobiographical? Of course not. Of course.
As it happens, I still get to go to South Carolina occasionally, often in August, when I can sweat to my heart’s content. As it also happens, I wrote much of the book on the Cape. I belong to both places, and to neither. As a writer, it’s better that way. --Holly LeCraw
(Photo © Marion Ettlinger)
--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
From Publishers Weekly
Strong writing keeps the reader sucked in to LeCraw's painful family drama debut. The lovely Marcella is reeling from tragedy; her ex-husband, Anthony, has sent Toni, their only daughter, away to boarding school and on to college. The man with whom Marcella had an affair, Cecil McClatchey, dies in a car accident soon after his wife, Betsy, is murdered. Amid the wreckage is Cecil's daughter, Callie, fighting for her sanity with two young children, and his son, Jed, who, desperate to fill the void left by the death of his parents, seeks answers from Marcella only to begin a tortured love affair with her as she drowns in guilt, struggling to find some meaning to hold on to. As Marcella comes closer to the truth about Betsy's murder and Cecil's death, and mindful that she is now the lover of Cecil's son, she struggles and fails to gather strength enough to make any decision, right or wrong. It is a story of deep and searing love, between siblings and lovers, but most powerfully, between parents and their children. (Apr.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Top customer reviews
Jed, a lawyer, has become involved with his father's mistress. He is living with his sister, Callie and her husband, Billy and children in Cape Cod. This was a summer home from happier times, or were they? Something seems not quite right. Toni, the daughter of Jed's new lover is helping out this summer. Marcella, Toni's mom and Jed's new lover and mistress of Jed's father, lives in Connecticut, near the beach. Jed's mother was murdered and his father died in a sudden accident. Those are the essentials, except for Anthony, Toni's father and Marcella's ex-husband. There you have it. Sounds convoluted, does it not?
What Holly LeCraw has going for her, is her writing. She is a gifted writer and the story flows so well. Each character is drawn out so well that we feel like we are just getting to know them. The settings are so well depicted, we feel like we are there. The sun, the sand, the surf, the beach, the swimming pool and the old weathered homes of old Cape Cod. The story moves from one setting to the next, and the characters with some insight move from one place to the next. Told in many flashbacks, the story makes more sense as the novel proceeds. In fact, I liked this novel.
Holly LeCraw has some important things to say. Her novel is an important start. Keep on, keepin' on.
Recommended. prisrob 04-25-10
Jed and Callie have a summer home on Cape Cod, the home belonging to their parents. Their mom, Betsy,was murdered and it is suspected that their dad,Cecil, committed suicide. They both have had trouble dealing with these deaths and the circumstances.
Anthony and Marcella are a divorced couple. Marcella had an affair with Cecil that eventually brought about an end to her marriage with Anthony. Jed has been more than a little obsessed with Marcella, eventually discovering her affair with his father. This doesn't stop him however from falling into a relationship with Marcella now. The two become lovers, all the while knowing how difficult it would be to tell anyone, especially Jed's sister Callie or Marcella's daughter, Toni, who babysits for Calllie.
The story of secrets and lies plays out. The past catches up to the present and the questions are soon answered. The events of the previous years proving to have altered their lives forever.
I found the book to be well written and interesting. While definitely a dark story, I enjoyed it.