40 Love

40 Love by Madeleine Wickham, who also writes under the name Sophie Kinsella, follows the story of Caroline and Patrick Chance who invite a group to their country home for a tennis party weekend. Arriving for the tournament are Patrick's ultra-competitive client Don and his daughter Valerie; wealthy and elegant Charles and Cressida; and the unassuming academics Stephen and Annie. Drama ensues both on and off the court when Patrick tries to convince a few of his guests to invest in some risky business deals and the unexpected arrival of free-spirited Ella, Charles' former lover, is sure to upset the tournament.

Wickham's main success in this novel is her characters and the way their strengths and weaknesses are gradually uncovered. At first few of the protagonists seem at all likeable, but as the story unfolds she reveals their humanity through their actions, faults and double faults alike. Though parts of the book are amusing it lacks the outright hilarity of some of Wickham's later novels and never quite reaches the charm of those written under her Kinsella pseudonym. Yet there remains a simple sincerity to the story that captures a snapshot of realism creating a delightful tale.

This book was originally published in 1995 under the title The Tennis Party and has been reissued with the name 40 Love and the added link to associate Madeleine Wickham with Sophie Kinsella of Shopaholic fame.  I'm curious what others think of the name change and/or the reissuing of the book with a new title.  I know I'm always confused when books by authors I follow are given new cover designs.  I've been known to pick up a book from the "New" shelf at the library and read the description with a feeling of deja vu.  As I question to myself, "Have I read this before?", it's always startling to flip to the copyright page and discover a date from decades earlier.  But on the other hand, I find 40 Love a much more charming and catching title than The Tennis Party

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