The Standing Pool, Paperback
2 out of 5 (1 rating)


Two Cambridge academics, the historians Nick and Sarah Mallinson, take a sabbatical with their three small and lively girls in a remote Languedoc farmhouse.

But the farmhouse contains its own histories, far darker and murkier than the Mallinsons are used to dealing with.

As the illusion of Eden retreats, the couple begin to feel the vulnerability of being among strangers...




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This is a book so suffused with ennui it's hard to find anything to like. I found it rather unsubtle the sense of menace not so much creeping up as being rubbed in endlessly and the characters were on the whole almost entirely unsympathetic, frustratingly so. The penultimate chapter feels like an author suddenly rubbing out what he has created as if to say, yes these characters are so done with. In many ways the final chapter is even more implausible. I felt this could have done with more light and shade. Some well written sections where the layering of atmosphere does work and some neat aphorisms on the purpose of history, unfortunately did not redeem this book for me.

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