The Pools

Bethan Roberts

The Pools

Middle England, mid-1980s. The kind of place where nothing ever happens. Except something has happened. A fifteen year old boy called Robert has been killed, down by the pools. And half a dozen lives will come unravelled. There's Kathryn and Howard, Rob's parents. Kath has been making the best of her second marriage after the love of her life died young. Howard has been clinging onto a family life he hardly expected to have. There's Joanna, the teen queen of nowheresville. She's been looking for a way out, escape from her parents' broken marriage. She thought Rob might take her away from all this, but lately she's started to think Rob might have other plans. And then there's Shane, with the big hands and the backward brain and the fixation on Joanna. Bethan Roberts' strikingly assured debut novel expertly reveals the tensions and terrors that underpin apparently ordinary lives, and can lead them to spiral suddenly out of control. 3.8 out of 5 based on 2 reviews
The Pools

Omniscore:

Classification Fiction
Genre General Fiction
Format Paperback
Pages 288
RRP £10.99
Date of Publication August 2007
ISBN 978-1852424992
Publisher Serpent's Tail
 

Middle England, mid-1980s. The kind of place where nothing ever happens. Except something has happened. A fifteen year old boy called Robert has been killed, down by the pools. And half a dozen lives will come unravelled. There's Kathryn and Howard, Rob's parents. Kath has been making the best of her second marriage after the love of her life died young. Howard has been clinging onto a family life he hardly expected to have. There's Joanna, the teen queen of nowheresville. She's been looking for a way out, escape from her parents' broken marriage. She thought Rob might take her away from all this, but lately she's started to think Rob might have other plans. And then there's Shane, with the big hands and the backward brain and the fixation on Joanna. Bethan Roberts' strikingly assured debut novel expertly reveals the tensions and terrors that underpin apparently ordinary lives, and can lead them to spiral suddenly out of control.

This novel won a Jerwood/Arvon Young Writers' Prize.

Reviews

The Guardian

Catherine Taylor

...A sense of controlled menace broods over every scene, as if the book's tragic outcome were inevitable, from Howard's initial fateful glimpse of Kathryn and the origin of a lifetime's fixation, to the snarling tensions between the teenagers, and Robert and his father.

29/09/2007

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The Observer

Helen Zaltzman

Howard is an unpleasantly creepy narrator, so it's far preferable when the action switches to schoolgirl Joanna, who became infatuated with Robert's detached cool. Through Joanna, along with some well-judged 1980s detail, Roberts does a fine job of evoking the arrival of partially unwelcome adulthood and a vague sense of menace. The relationships are slightly less convincing, especially as, peculiarly, everyone in the village is an only child.

15/04/2009

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