Monday, June 7, 2010
The Swimming Pool: Holly LeCraw
I finished reading The Swimming Pool by Holly LeCraw about two weeks ago. At first, I had no idea where to begin in my review. What a complicated story! And then, just as I was really picking up some steam on my review, my computer crashed. And I mean it CRASHED. I tried to do a system restore, but alas, the only treatment was to re-start the system from scratch. So. Obviously I lost the beautiful, poetic, righteous review I was working on. And of course, now that it's gone into the silicon Neverland and no one can read it, I can tell you that it was my best work ever! Okay, it wasn't really, but you'll never know, will you?
So. This book. It's confusing. That's all there is to it. Because it starts out as a story about one thing, but it ends up being a story about something totally different. Which, really, is just like life. We start out our day thinking it will just be about work, and it ends up being about the kids and the dog and the co-workers mother-in-law who doesn't approve. In that sense, LeCraw is a fabulous writer. She easily captures a slice of life. The life she has captured, though, is chaotic at best.
So there are all these people who have intersecting lives. Marcella was married to Anthony and they have a daughter named Toni. Marcella had an affair with a man named Cecil who was married to a woman named Betsy. Cecil and Betsy have two kids; Jed and Callie. Betsey ends up getting murdered, Marcella and Anthony get divorced, and Cecil eventually dies. That's not what this story is actually about though. Because some years later, it's summer on the Cape and Toni is hired to nanny for Callie, who now has two kids of her own. And brother Jed is spending the summer at the Cape with his sister. I know, right? Marcella's kid is nannying for the daughter of Marcella's former lover? Crazy. But wait, it gets worse. What could be worse, you ask? Oh, I don't know, maybe if Marcella and Jed become lovers! That's right, first she's lovin on the papa, then she's lovin on the son. Sick, ya'all, sick! It appears this woman has no boundaries. And to complicate things further, back at the Cape house, Toni keeps coming on to Jed, and he's trying desperately to deny that he finds her attractive. Because after all, she's the daughter of his lover!
So, if you've swallowed all of that information, now I can tell you that this book isn't really about those wicked relationships. It's about Callie and how postpartum depression is nasty. Because she's got this beautiful baby girl, right, but she's so totally unattached. And she's too scared to talk about it, because she's kind of WASPy and doesn't want anyone to know that she's not perfect. So what happens? Nothing, actually. She does not drown her baby in a bathtub. She does not shake her baby to death. Nothing like that. She just locks her baby in the nursery, where she is safe from crazy mamma, which is the best thing she could have done. But none of this happens until the last part of the book! There are all of these subtle little paragraphs about Callie's unhappiness, but reader is so tied up with Jed and Marcella that we don't realize it's all about Callie!
Now, I'm not gonna lie and say I loved this book. Because I was kind of into it until I figured out that I had been misled. But I can't lie and say I hated it, either. Because the characters are fascinating people! And I am a sucker for stories that take place on The Cape. New England is super foreign to this NW girlie, so I'm always interested to read about those folks. I guess I'm just not keen on the plot devices LeCraw utilizes. However, this is her debut novel, and I am mildly curious to see what she does next. Will she continue to be a tale-twister, or will she change it up next time?