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Niagara on the Lake, Ontario, Canada
My virtue is that I say what I think, my vice that what I think doesn't amount to much.

Thursday, September 04, 2014

The Swimming Pool Season

I picked up this novel by Rose Tremain from a table at a neighbour's book giveaway. It was written thirty years ago and there are some details that make it seem dated but overall it has aged quite well.
Miriam, an artist, and her husband Larry Kendal have moved from Oxford to Pomerac, a small town in rural France, after Larry's swimming pool business goes belly up. The residents of the village look suspiciously upon the foreign newcomers and Larry's plan to build a monumental swimming pool on his property. 
Miriam returns to Oxford to care for her mother Leni, a former femme fatale who despises Larry (the feeling is reciprocal). During her absence Larry becomes more involved with his idiosyncratic neighbours and Tremaine's vivid portraits of them rival Miriam's lovely watercolours. 
The novel shifts back and forth between Miriam's family home in Oxford and Pomerac. We are introduced to the Oxford people: Leni's gay lodger, Miriam and Larry's grown son and a middle aged bookseller who falls hard for Miriam.
There are a lot of characters for a not overly long novel but it doesn't seem cluttered or confused because of Tremain's skillful characterization. I was pleasantly surprised by this quiet little love story. 

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