Books

The J.M. Barrie Ladies’ Swimming Society – Barbara Jane Zitwer

American architect, Joey has come over from the States to oversee the project of restoring a once great home, Stanway House in a Cotswold village. Work is her life, she has put on hold any form of relationship as they have gone badly in the past and she has even let friendships slide over time. This includes her close friendship with Sarah. Joey is portrayed as overworked and overwrought with life.

Now with the opportunity to come to England with work, she feels that perhaps she can reconnect with Sarah, who married an Englishman and moved to fulfill a very different life to Joey. Everything is intertwined within the plot and the characters as Sarah’s mother in law happens to come from the village where the house that is to be restored is situated. It all seems serendipitous but sadly life has moved on for Sarah and also for those who have been involved in Stanway house.

Joey has to accept that change is inevitable and that some are going to embrace it whilst others are going to fight what once was and hark back to days gone past. Joey has to accept that she herself has changed and that friendships are formed in the most unlikely of places with the most unlikely of people.

This is where Joey dips her toe in the title of the book The J.M.Barrie Ladies Swimming Society, a group of women who swim, outdoors, in all weathers, in a private pond. It is a place where these women come to cleanse their souls and bond together through all that has happened to them and what might happen in the future. Joey has never felt anything like this in the world and it comes as rather a surprise to her.

This is a gentle tale, it meanders along rather like the gentle swimming that the ladies partake in. At times I was slightly bored and did question where this was going, I could see the inevitability of the some of the plot lines and I would have liked to known more about the restoration of the house. But what saved me from putting the book down was the descriptions of the scenery and the seasons. It could have been so much more of a book, it was not, but it was a sufficient read but did not completely satisfy me.

I read this book back in December and really wish I had written the review then, I am sure that it has an effect when I really do come and write them. The book is no longer in the upper part of mind, having read more since then and I do think that perhaps then I am not doing it justice and certainly the reviews seem very wishy washy. (I might be being hard on myself?)

However, if the book has not stuck with me, then perhaps it does not matter when you write the review? What did stick with me was the swimming outside, I do enjoy doing that albeit in a heated pool and not in a natural environment but I think if I found a pond like the one in this book, with the facilities for warm towels and a hot chocolate afterwards I would certainly go and embrace it wholeheartedly. there is something very peaceful and calming about swimming and I can understand why some have an affinity with water. 

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