cover image Swimming Pool Sunday

Swimming Pool Sunday

Madeleine Wickham. Thomas Dunne Books, $22.95 (304pp) ISBN 978-0-312-18188-8

A fine chronicler of life's small and large catastrophes, Wickham (A Desirable Residence, 1997, etc.) delivers a workmanlike tale of separated parents who are manipulated by an ambitious young lawyer. When divorce-bound British suburbanites Louise and Barnaby Kember, temporarily reunited at a neighbor's pool party, witness a diving accident that puts their youngest daughter in the hospital, Louise's soigne new suitor, the attorney Cassian Brown, persuades them to sue. As it turns out, the politically and socially ambitious Cassian is more interested in winning a case that will bring him a connection to Louise's father, the famous Lord Page, than he is in Louise or her child. A subplot about a brilliant young piano student and a somewhat older man in the Kembers' village brings humor and a melancholy revelation at the end. If the novel drags in the middle, it's only because we can't help but wonder why it takes Louise so long to come to her senses and blast smarmy Cassian out of her life. (Apr.)