The Pool House is the first book that I have read by Tasmina Perry, but it certainly will not be the last. It was a compelling narrative, with great plot twists and shocking character reveals. Perry writes stylishly and understands her characters along with the lives they are trying to lead. The Pool House by Tasmina Perry has been published today by Headline books.
Jem and Nat are a married couple who have been invited to share a pool house in the Hamptons, New York with some friends Nat has met at society parties. Since Jem is out of work and lonely in New York, cooking for the group in the house on weekends and finding work in the week seems like a great way to spend the summer. Once there, she is informed that the previous woman who shared their room with her husband drowned in the pool the summer before. After meeting a successful investigative journalist and author, as well as the woman’s husband, David, Jem becomes obsessed with uncovering the truth. Many truths are revealed and I did not expect a lot of what came, however did manage to predict the ending.
What I liked
This is a well-plotted, well-told story which gripped me from the first page. I thought that the narrative voices were used very well and that the timings of the reveals were well spread out. Perry has clearly thought this novel through thoroughly, as I never felt that it was too long or dragging. I liked all of the characters except for Jem and Nat. Perry writes the other couples seamlessly; I understood who they were, what they were doing and what they wanted to achieve. They were honest about themselves and this candidness made them very easy to read. I especially liked Alice, as she was unapologetic and unashamedly herself. Erica was a very open character who I believe that a lot of readers could relate to in many ways.
Todd, Paul and Joel were all fairly typical male characters, all representing different male traits which could be their undoing. Paul represented lust, Joel greed and Todd loyalty. I felt that Michael was a great character who really understood himself, what he had done and had the hindsight of experience behind him which made him a great character for others to bounce off.
Perry’s use of language and descriptions are concise and to the point; she really captures the atmosphere of a location. She can make the reader feel like they are either a fish out of water like Jem and Alice, or like they belong and are part of society’s elite with just a few words. The storytelling is seamless and very easy to follow, with the twists and reveals keeping the reader hooked throughout.
What I didn’t like
Well, I’ve already mentioned it, but I didn’t like Jem and Nat. Jem’s character confused me a lot; when she was investigating Alice’s death and spending time with other people, she was a brilliant character to whom I related and understood her feelings of wanting to uncover the truth even if it meant betraying the “friends” in her life. However, with Nat she was a completely different person. I understand that we all often suppress how we feel about things that our partners say but, aside from the small anecdotes about them having had a great time together “laughing and talking” she really does not seem like the kind of woman who would have married someone so quietly controlling. In the section where she tells the reader how she feels similar to Alice for marrying for status and security, it felt like a throwaway statement. Jem would be strong and interesting without Nat; he made her meek and dull. That may have been the point, but I felt that the two sides of her personality were too different to justify it.
Nat was awful. He was not even a villain, or someone I loved to hate. He was simply dismissive of his wife, overambitious to the point that he would rather be successful than happy and in love and annoying. The way that he didn’t even try to hide his flirtatious side and used it to get ahead bothered me a lot, as many people do this in British and American culture and it just gets overlooked. He was a horrible husband and just a wannabe society man.
Overall, I mostly enjoyed this book. I felt that David should have been included more toward the end to see his reactions, but generally it was a very good book. Perry has a way with words and an understanding of human nature at all different societal levels, which keeps the reader engaged as each character has a different seat on the hierarchy and very different personalities because of that. I would recommend The Pool House to anybody who loves mysteries, scandalous stories and Gone Girl. Thank you Becky Hunter from Headline for my proof copy of The Pool House in exchange for an honest review.