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3.5 out of 5 stars59
3.5 out of 5 stars
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VINE VOICEon 27 June 2004
A bunch of friends meet at Patrick and Caroline's plush new country house for a weekend of tennis, boozing and eating. But it seems that behind all the money and luxury all is far from what it seems. Matters are complicated further by an ex-wife turning up out of the blue. This is a good, very enjoyable read, with all the action taking place over two days, and in the confines of the house and garden. But it must be said it lacked any real bite, and the final page revelation about Ella could be seen coming a mile off, all of which was a bit disappointing, but on the whole this is recommended if you want a real page-turner. Madeleine Wickham writes about the 'nouveau riche' without a single snobbish bone in her body, (are you listening, Jilly Cooper?!) and I liked that.
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on 6 March 2014
Several couples are invited to spend a weekend in the country at the mansion of rich self-made man Patrick, his wife Caroline and their horse-loving daughter. The reason given is to play a tennis tournament among the party guests, who are Stephen and Annie (their neighbours back in the days before Patrick and Cressida became rich), Charles (who used to be just as averagely poor as the others before his marriage) and his aristocratic wife Cressida, plus new rich neighbours Don and Valerie. Stephen and Annie and Charles and Cressida also bring their children, and it looks like everyone is set to enjoy a great weekend with plenty of sunshine, barbecues and - of course - drinks.

Rather soon, though, the true intention for inviting them begins to emerge, and a surprise guest turns up - very welcome to some, most unwelcome to other members of the party.

Temptations of various kinds are thrown at Stephen and Charles, while Annie and Caroline are determined not to let anything come between them to ruin their long standing friendship. Cressida and Charles have troubles of their own to sort out, and the children are not just there to make up numbers, either.

How new and old friendships, as well as love, prevail in the end, is interesting enough to read and not quite as predictable as this type of story sometimes is. So, if you don't mind to read about a lot of drinking (and I mean a LOT), you can enjoy the well-depicted atmosphere of a sunny weekend in the country, where not everything (or everyone) is as it appears on the surface.
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on 21 December 2013
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.
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on 23 July 2010
After reading all of Sophie Kinsellas books time and time again I decided to read some of the books she wrote under her other name, Madeleine Wickham, this being the first. The book did not compare to the books she has written under the name Sophie Kinsella, it was easy to read however not that exciting, I wasn't too eager to turn the pages which is unlike me! Its a good book for the beach I suppose, however nothing to really get into. Will definitely stick to books written under her other name in future!
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on 19 November 2012
What a disgusting book. That's it. That is all I can say about it.

Not a single redeeming quality in any of the characters. Nothing about this book is inspiring, nothing about it gives us hope, or makes us tingle with emotion, or makes us wishful or makes us think. It is not even a feel-good read!! It's a highly provoking, repulsive story.

Friends taking a stab at one another, spouses cheating on one another. Everyone betraying everyone else, everyone conning everyone else. Just one big fat mess. I have not enjoyed a single Madeleine Wickham book, and definitely prefer Sophie Kinsella's style, but this one...this ones takes the cake! I didn't think it could get any worse, but man oh man, Wickham proved me wrong.

The only reason I read it (and trust me I read it as fast as I could), was because it has been lying there on my bookshelf for months and I thought what the hell? I'm in need for a light, quick read. This was ridiculous though.

If I could give it no stars, I would.
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on 20 May 2015
A fan of Kinsella's Shopaholic novels, I decided to embark on some other earlier novels, such as this first one, The Tennis Party. However, it was nowhere near as good as her shopaholic series, in fact I would term it an easy read - it was rather simplistic, with a basic plot line. I didn't find it to match up to the description and also it was a bit boring in places. Credit, however, must be given to Kinsella bearing in mind The Tennis Party was her first novel, more of an experiment in her writing and that her writing style does certainly improve in her later novels such as the Shopaholic Series and Have I Got Your Number? This book can easily be read in a single day from cover to cover and is most ideal as a beach read or for those times when you want to switch off and not have to think hard over the plot.
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on 11 September 2011
I was really disappointed with this book the story line was really not that good. i've never read a bad book by sophie kensella/madeline wickham but she was really having a off day when she produced this it was really utter rubbish
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on 10 June 2012
Was quite a fan of Sophie Kinsella, so I thought I would try her Madeleine Wickham novels as well. Huge mistake. I'm sorry Madeleine, but they are just plain bad. I have read this one, and is halfway through "Sleeping arrangements" and in both books I seriously hate all the characters (okay maybe not Cressida in this one). They all have some very bad traits, and if they have any good, we are not told about them. And the ending: We alle have a screaming match and then go home, nothing resolved? Sorry, but it is just bad.

I did read it very fast, and I kept wanting to know what would happen next, but at the same time I hated the characters and the way they acted, so I can't give it anymore stars.
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on 10 July 2011
A very pleasant read - but I found so many spelling mistakes that they became a distraction. I tried to contact the publisher and after a few telephone calls finally managed to speak to someone that sounded like they knew what I was talking about. I suspect I was just being fobbed off.
The plot itself was okay but I didn't find it as interesting as some of her others.
What is it with the pretence of Sophie Kinsella writing as Madelaine Wickham? Why bother to put BOTH names on the book - that's just silly - so decide who you are and stick to it... Your many fans will buy your books whatever you call yourself!
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on 14 May 2012
I have read every Sophie Kinsella book published so far and I love them.

The books written by the same author under her real name Madeline Wickham are in a completely different style, but I have enjoyed all of them EXCEPT for The Tennis Party. If this is the first book you've ready under the name Madeline Wickham don't let it put you off as the others are much better.

This, in my opinion, was a very disappointing read. I didn't especially like any of the characters, therefore I didn't really care what happened them or the outcome of the novel. I found it difficult to struggle through.
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