I know, I know. I’ve already mentioned this a few times, and it was on the reading list for a while, so why is this book of the week now I’ve finally finished it? Well firstly, take a look at it: it’s a hardback. And that should explain why it’s taken me a while to read – I don’t take books in my work rucksack these days because I have a laptop in there but I especially don’t take hardbacks around because they get so battered and also hardbacks are just harder to read than paperbacks are – speaking as an integrate eat-and-read person, you cannot read a hardback while you eat your lunch!
Carrie Soto was the best tennis player in the world. When she retired at the end of the 1980s, she had the all time grand slam record. But just six years later, that record is about to be broken- so she decides to make a comeback to take back her crown and prove that she’s the best of all time. But being the best tennis player in the world is much harder when you’re in your late 30s and harder still when it feels like no one wants you to succeed.
Carrie is not a sweet and fluffy tennis player: the media nicknamed her The Battleaxe basically because she did things that in a man would have been celebrated, but women aren’t meant to do. Like saying you’re going to crush your opponents. And admitting that you were targeting an opponent’s injury. And her singular focus means that she’s not always easy to like as she creates a world where it’s her against everyone else – but you’re shown her history and her family so you get why she is the way she is and you’re hoping that someone will come along and break through her protective shell.
Carrie popped up as a secondary character in Malibu Rising and it’s amazing how much you end up rooting for her in this, given what she was up to in that. Taylor Jenkins Reid has said that is the final book in this particular universe and this is another story about a woman who is unapologetic about her ambition and wants to live life in her own way and on her terms. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about the themes across the four books – The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, Daisy Jones and the Six, Malibu Rising and this – and that’s sort of where I’ve come down: they all look at women challenging the status quo in some way, but they’re all very different stories and told in different ways. Like the first two books, there is a lot here where you can pick which real life tennis players have provided some inspiration for various people and the world feels so real by the end of it you can’t quite believe that none of it is real. Excellent, engrossing reading – perfect for a sun lounger, if only you don’t buy the hardback version!
You should be able to get this basically anywhere. Seriously. I think it’s been front and centre in every book shop I have recently featured. And of course it’s in all the ebook formats too.