All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

Review: The Pool House by Tasmina Perry

on October 12, 2017

The Pool House
Tasmina Perry
Headline Review
2017, 465p
Copy courtesy Hachette AUS

Blurb {from the publisher/Goodreads.com}:

A summer to die for

To Jem Chapman, it’s the chance of a lifetime. An invitation to join a group in an exclusive Hamptons houseshare, who could say no? But when she discovers what happened last summer, Jem can’t help but feel a chill.

A young woman was found drowned in the house’s pool. The housemates said Alice was troubled. She’d been drinking. She couldn’t swim…..

A secret worth killing for

As Jem gets to know her glamorous new housemates, she realises each has something to hide. What really happened last summer? And who would go to any lengths to keep a person quiet?

This book was so good!

Jem is a young woman in her thirties who moved to New York with her husband Nat from England a few months ago. Nat is a super ambitious and very good looking associate editor at a men’s magazine who saw this move to New York as an opportunity. Jem had her own catering business in England but hasn’t been able to find any work in New York and is becoming lonely, especially with the long hours Nat works and his dedication to appearing at pretty much anything he can. When a colleague of Nat’s invites them to come in on a houseshare in the Hamptons with them, Jem has reservations. For one, she doesn’t really know these people and isn’t sure they’ll have much in common with wealthy-for-generations New Yorkers and the house will be something they’ll use mostly only at weekends and eat up all their savings. But Nat is determined to take the next step in New York society and so Jem gives in, hoping that the relaxed atmosphere might help them reconnect. It isn’t until it’s too late that Jem finds out that they’ve been asked to replace another couple, David and Alice, after Alice’s tragic death. Not only did Alice die but she also died in the pool at the Hampton’s house. When Jem finds out that Nat knew about Alice, she can’t believe he wouldn’t tell her such a thing but it seems that Nat will do anything it takes to get involved in this group and become a part of them and their influential, connected circle.

Despite her reservations, Jem is taken in by the beautiful house and it’s excellent kitchen. At first the group seem fun and welcoming and the summer looks good. But Jem can’t get the thought of Alice and what happened to her out of her head and finds it strange that none of the others want to talk to her. This was someone they spent a summer with and they seem to have wiped her from their minds without a care in the world. It makes her curious and when she meets someone locally who also finds it a bit out of the ordinary and also a bit strange how quickly the investigation was wrapped up, Jem finds herself doing a bit of investigation.

This story had me intrigued from the very first page. We begin with a prologue from Alice’s point of view that takes place the night of her death and then switch to Jem for the majority of the set up. Then we go back to Alice and get to know her a little bit more, learn her connections to the other people in the house at the Hamptons and what exactly was going on in her life and it becomes more and more clear that numerous people might have had motive to do Alice harm in some way. The relationships are quite complicated with marital infidelity happening everywhere and people having secrets, some of which would have dire consequences if they were to come to light. It becomes a bit of a tangled web and I was having a lot of fun trying to decide who would’ve benefited the most from Alice quietly disappearing into the pool in her drunken stupor.

This is a bit of a glimpse at how the super rich live – paying tens of thousands for a quarter share in a holiday house for the summer that most of them will only use two days a week, three at most as they’re still working in the city. It’s art gallery events, product launches, designer labels, gym sessions and discreet work being done. It’s a foreign world and Jem is very much a down to earth girl from England who wasn’t wealthy growing up and isn’t particularly interested in being super rich or being accepted by this inner circle even if she doesn’t admit to herself that some of it is nice. Jem cares far more about a person she never met than any of the people who actually knew Alice did and the fact that she’s not willing to sacrifice herself in order to be part of this group causes real cracks in her relationship with Nat, who definitely does want to be a part of it. Nat is very ambitious and has shed his poor background with scholarships and working hard and he wants to go all the way to the top. He’s still a long way from the serious money of this crowd but he wants to be accepted, shoehorn his way up to the top levels of New York society. Jem and Nat have very different goals in life and the more she talks about the things that she desires, the more he tries to put her off and the two of them drift apart.

I thought Jem was a really well fleshed out character in that she was a very middle class person thrust into a very upper class situation and she had a lot of struggles over that. It was impossible not to enjoy some aspects – a very beautiful house in a sought after location, invites to interesting and fun events and after months of being lonely, the thought that maybe she might be able to make some friends and be part of something, feel at home. She has been mostly exploring New York on her own without really meeting anyone to hang out with, or finding a job. Being in the Hamptons leads to an interesting part time job and the chance that maybe she could find her place but it is also a world that she’s not accustomed to, dominated by money (which she doesn’t have) and very misleading. I don’t want to give anything away but I also admired the way that the author handled a friendship between a woman and an older man, which was done respectfully and positively. So many times I’ve seen the older man – younger woman dynamic demonised in fiction with the men painted as mid-life crisis jerks and the women as vacuous trophy wives and stereotypical gold diggers. It doesn’t have to be this way and this book definitely showcases that and I liked that.

Really enjoyed this. I’ve read a couple of Tasmina Perry’s long in the past but she has a very extensive backlist that I’m looking forward to exploring.

8/10

Book #168 of 2017

 

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2 responses to “Review: The Pool House by Tasmina Perry

  1. A. J. says:

    Very helpful review, thank you.

  2. Georgia says:

    I also loved this book. I almost felt like I was there to along for the ride. I loved the pace of it and I couldn’t put it down. I want to know what happens for each of the characters next.

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