The Tennis Party is much like many of Kinsella/ Wickham’s novels- well written, well –paced and consistent, three things all good books should be. Add funny to the mix and you’ve got a perfect read for all seasons. Although this is definitely the perfect novel for reading at the beach or on a sun-lounger, I enjoyed it just as much on a cold December night, tucked up in bed; reminiscing about the sunny days of July and August.
The novel’s opening chapter introduces the reader immediately to three of the four couples who are the focus of the plot. You will quickly discover those you like (Stephen and Annie) and those you’re not quite sure about yet (Caroline). By the end of chapter three the characters who had stolen my heart were Georgina and Nicola. You only have to read these first three chapters to understand why. The friendship, which appears to have stood the test of time, between Georgina and Nicola brings back memories of your first ever best friend, all the things you did together and all the reasons why you were friends. It’s a trip down memory lane that I expect almost everyone can relate too.
This brings me to take note of one of Kinsella/Wickham’s most obvious skills and stylistic approaches. Her ability to have a character deliver a line which is not only something the reader themselves wishes they had the courage to say, but also to convey it exactly how you imagined you would say it yourself. It’s this skill and talent that makes the characters of the novel so relatable- even if the actual settings of the novel are only familiar to a few readers. This is much more than ‘chick-lit’. I enjoy Kinsella/ Wickham’s work so much that I would even go so far as to say, that her work can be viewed as every bit the social comedy of the twenty first Century, that Jane Austen’s is of the nineteenth Century. There are twists and turns in what feels like every turn of the page, but Kinsella/ Wickham always gives just enough detail without giving away any surprises. By chapter eight the reader is starting to see the perfect worlds of our couples disintegrate.
Although the exact events within the pages of The Tennis Party may not occur in everyone’s world, the key issue of miscommunication most certainly does, and the mind boggles at the extent that some people will go to; too avoid talking about their problems. The fast pace of the novel makes the character revelations- in particular those of Charles, Cressida, Patrick, Caroline and Ella- all the more shocking. You expect to be surprised, but I did not expect what I received at the end of Chapter nine!
The Tennis Party is a story of rise and fall, friendship, love, self-realisation and self-development. It’s also a novel that could be interpreted in many different ways. It could be a feminist piece displaying men in a particularly unkind light, or a social commentary on the fabulously wealthy, their lifestyles and the consequences of money. I choose to view it as an easy, entertaining read with a not-so hidden moral that communication is always better for a relationship, one way or another.
The final two chapters of The Tennis Party are extremely explosive and here readers will suddenly decide in-definitely who they like and who they don’t, and in doing so will probably find that their opinions of a few people have changed, during the course of the book. But having said that, by the end of the novel I felt underwhelmed- in my opinion there was minimal resolution given for any of the problems which came to light.
Overall The Tennis Party is a good read and I couldn’t put it down. I enjoyed it’s narrative style and humorous delivery, but my personal preference for having nice clean endings with everything explained and tied up, made me feel that the ending was lacking somewhat.
© Gemma Feltham 21st December 2013