“Adrian Hartman is the charismatic director of the Serendipity holiday community, set among pine trees on a sun-baked island. His job is to ensure the perfect mindful break, with personal growth and inner peace guaranteed. His guests return year after year to bare their souls. For some, Adrian IS Serendipity.
But this year Adrian isn’t there, and nobody knows the reason why. Things have changed: staff and guests are bewildered without their leader and the simmering hostility of the local villagers is beginning to boil over. Is the atmosphere of menace connected with Adrian’s absence? And will life on the island ever be the same again?
As romance turns sour and conflict threatens the stability of both communities, everyone has to find their own way to survive. This evocative novel explores the effect of well-intentioned tourism on a traditional community, and questions the real meaning of getting away from it all.”
Some UK reviews:
This is a great book! I picked it up and before I knew it a good couple of hours had passed me by.
This is a lovely book,and if it truly is the author’s first novel then all I can say is that she has a very promising future indeed as a writer.
It can only be a matter of time until a film producer options this book… Such great characters (including believable, interesting women!), compelling themes, suspense and a glorious setting. Very nicely written too.
Jessica Norrie was born and lives in London with her grown up children. She studied French Literature and Education at the Universities of Sussex, Sheffield (UK) and Dijon (France). She had a long teaching career in France and the UK, spanning age groups from 3-80 years old.
She’s also worked as a freelance translator, in journalism, and published a languages teaching textbook. She’s just left teaching to concentrate on writing.
“The Infinity Pool” is her first novel, drawing on many years of travel and encounters, and she already has several ideas for another.
The Inspiration for “The Infinity Pool”
I went on an odd holiday, recommended by a stranger at a party. The setting was fabulous: coastline, pine forests, white towns tumbling to coves and crags. The beaches had jagged rocks and plagues of sea urchins. The accommodation ranged from basic to primitive, but the idea was to enjoy a break from gadgets and urban stress, and “find yourself” through courses in personal development, yoga or craft skills.
It was mostly brilliant, but the combination of freedom, self discovery, very little clothing and some alcohol led to many dangerously intense relationships – these were no ordinary holiday romances .
Allegiances changed daily with real life rites of passage crammed into a two week time frame. The high ratio of women to men added to the competition; there were recriminations and triumphs, regrets and trophies – all in the most civilised, drunken way. Meanwhile the locals watched, shocked, amused, curious, disgusted.
It was fertile ground for a whodunit. I added local characters to highlight the contrast between their traditions and the oddball visitors I’d invented, and installed a state of the art swimming pool to confuse the back to nature ethos. With many waves and ripples, “The Infinity Pool” was launched.
Here, the campsite director, Adrian, who’s been having a clandestine affair with a local girl, is called to sort out a threatening situation in the bar. She follows him:
Everything had spun off balance. Music pulsated around her; people were shouting and laughing and then suddenly shouting and swearing. Some of it was in her own tongue, some in English – she didn’t know where or when she had learnt English swear words but there was no mistaking them. The strobe lights in the trees around the bar unsettled her vision and made everyone’s movements jerk as though caught in a repeated camera flash, forcing her to stare at the dancing girl longer than she would have in normal lighting, before she worked out what was so wrong. What her logical mind told her might be some kind of body stocking, gaudy and to her mind tasteless, but still a fabric covering, was the girl’s painted flesh. She was a youngish woman, her eyes mostly closed, with an admittedly lovely figure, every intimate part of her swaying and undulating in the spasmodic light. Seeing something she had never so much as conceived of, Maria’s process of recognition was delayed, her judgement and opinion following even behind that. It was as if in slow motion that she took in what was happening in the bar, unable for a moment to tear away her fascinated, shocked gaze. Then when she did, she saw with horror a semi circle of local men gazing at the spectacle too, joking and laughing among themselves, some making gestures that even she in her naivety could not fail to interpret… She knew a few of these men – they included the son of the man who ran the beach restaurant, who had been in her class at school and tried for a while to get her to go out with him, and to her particular horror one of the retired school teachers – but she had never seen them in such a context, lascivious and excited, and egged on, it seemed, by other men she didn’t know who leered and groaned, bestial, wild. As she watched, one of them turned and, with the same delayed recognition she had felt herself, spotted her. He commented to his neighbour, and suddenly they were all looking at her and their complex fury erupted, exploding throughout the flickering bar…
She didn’t know how she got out of the bar. The strobe lights must have been on her side, helping her to dodge away, her jerky pace uncatchable. She stumbled down steps to the front entrance of the camp where the low encircling wall met the old blocks of the only substantial building. Treading blindly, one palm flat along the warm surface, she scraped up into the stone arch of a deep-set doorway. Here was momentary shelter, and she rested gratefully, breath coming in emotional, frightened gulps. All possible options appalled her. She couldn’t ask anyone at the camp to see her home; all of them, Adrian included, seemed alien after the bizarre scenes in the bar. Did people do that sort of thing every night? How could she walk along the dark road in the company of such people? Yet she was even more terrified of encountering the men from her own village, whose reactions had been barbaric, and as for the strangers they were mingling with, guffawing foul jokes as they swilled such vast quantities of beer… At home her family drank only small amounts of wine with due respect for the vines and the culture that had produced it: even customers in their café rarely bought more than two small bottles of beer at one sitting. But here the liquor had been slopping about, on the tables, on the floor. You could smell it even through the thick cigarette smoke, and touch it sticky on the surfaces. The women throwing it back too, their features exaggerated and preposterous in the flashing lights, swinging their hips and gyrating shamelessly as the men stood, legs planted and elbows jutting, in their circle of pop eyed, pot bellied lust. And that terrible woman in the middle – Maria felt sick to be part of the same species. She thought she would never be able to look a man in the face again.
“The Infinity Pool” was published in July 2015. It sold well in the UK and Australia (reaching no 1 in Literary Fiction in September 2015). There’s an audiobook, and the German translation will be ready soon. I’ve got good reviews but not many sales yet in the US – I’d love you to help me change that!
Many thanks to Charles for hosting this post and I wish you all a wonderful summer holiday.