It's a sunny summer Saturday and four couples gather for a weekend of tennis.
Meet the tournament hosts: self-made man Patrick and his brash and beautiful wife Caroline, out to impress with their new country house.
Meet the guest: Stephan and Annie, their impoverished former neighbours; social climbers Charles and his aristocratic new wife Cressida; and the ruthlessly competitive father-and-daughter team Don and Valerie.
As the first ball is served over the net so begins two days of Pimms, tantrums, flirtation, deviousness and shock revelations. It soon becomes obvious that the weekend is about anything but tennis.
The Tennis Party much like other Kinsella/Wickham it is well-written, well-paced and consistent, three things any good book should be. Add funny into the mix and you have yourself the perfect read for all seasons. But I do think I would have enjoyed the book just a tad more sat on a sun-lounger on the beach in a hot climate country, but that's not to say I didn't enjoy it tucked up in bed with a herbal tea during March.
The novels opening chapter introduces three of the four couples who the story is based upon. You quickly discover those that you like (Stephan and Annie) and those who you aren't too sure about (Caroline). You only need to get to the end of chapter three and you will have fallen for Georgina and Nicola. There friendship replicates that which many of us have, we all have that friendship with one friend which has overcome time and distance.
Kinsella/Wickham has this ability to have a character deliver a line, which is not only something you as a reader wish you had the courage to say but also to put it across in the exact way in which you have said it. It this skill that makes the characters in her novels so relatable, even though the settings might not be relatable to everyone. There are twists and turns on what feels like every page, but Kinsella/Wickham only gives away enough detail so we keep on page turning. By chapter eight you start to see the perfect world of our couples disintegrate.
Although the events in The Tennis Party may not happen in everyone's world, but the key issue of miscommunication certainly does, and it blows your mind to think about the extent in which the characters go to; to avoid talking to people about their problems. The story is fast paced which makes the character's revelations even more shocking. You expect to be surprised, but I most certainly was not expecting what I read at the end of chapter nine!
The Tennis Party is a story of rise and fall, love, self-realisation, self-development and friendship. The story could also be interpreted in many different ways. It could be a feminist novel displaying men in a unkind light, or a social commentary on the filthy rich, their lifestyles and the consequences of wealth. But I choose to view it in a easy-reading story with no-hidden message other than that communication is always better for a relationship.
The last two chapters of The Tennis Party are VERY explosive and you will suddenly decided who you like and who you don't like, and in doing so will probably find that your opinions of a few people change, during the course of the storyline. But having said that, by the end of the book I felt underwhelmed - in my opinion there was not a good enough resolution given for any of the problems which came to light.
Overall The Tennis Party is a great read and I could not put it down. I enjoyed it's narrative style and humorous delivery, but I do prefer a cleaner ending.
Lots of Love