Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Book Review -- The Tennis Player from Bermuda

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
Source:  Publisher (I was not compensated in anyway for my review.  My comments are mine alone).
Genre:  Fiction; British chick-lit
Objectionable material:  fornication
 

From the publisher:

…In 1962, the tennis players at Wimbledon were all amateurs -- there were no entourages for players, no lucrative product endorsements, and little money. Tennis fashion design was the domain of the extraordinary Teddy Tinling.

The All England Lawn Tennis Club was a tiny 13 acres with only 16 grass courts, including the famous Centre Court.

In The Tennis Player from Bermuda, Fiona tells how she qualified for Wimbledon in 1962 and became the best friend of Claire Kershaw, the number one woman player in the world. Fiona fell in love with Claire’s brother, a handsome Royal Marines officer, and their love affair played out against the dramatic Championship match between Claire and Fiona.

Fiona’s story combines friendship and love with one of the greatest sports competitions of all time…

I started playing tennis late in life – like two years ago. Who knew you could fall in love with a sport at middle age – and be good at it! Although my tennis career has taken a hiatus in the past 6 months, it’s still an absolute joy to get out on the courts for a match.

When I saw this book advertised in The New York Times Book Review, I KNEW I had to read it! Thanks to Troubador for sending me a copy.

What I liked: Ms. Hodgkin’s narrative about the actual game of tennis was a thrill to read. So much of my game is the determination to get the ball over the net and not hit it out. I loved the portion where the author talked about the physics of the game: speed, velocity, force, drag – good heavens – I had no idea I needed to be a scientist to be a good tennis player. I learned so much.

I loved reading about the history of Wimbledon. I remember watching the Bjorn Borg/John McEnroe match back in the 80s. I haven’t been there – but after reading Ms. Hodgkin’s book and the addition of my personal TV memories – I feel like I have.

I loved Fiona and her cast of friends – Claire (her best friend and Wimbledon opponent) and Rachel (her coach) – and her family – they were fun, quirky, and enjoyable.   Also, it was the perfect book to read on the heals of the London Olympics.  Makes me want to book tickets immediately! 

What I didn’t like: while Ms. Hodgkin excelled at writing about the game and nuances of tennis and Wimbledon – her romance writing (Fiona had two love interests) was lacking. One of her relationships ends abruptly, and where there should have been this great sense of sadness…there was really no emotion at all. There was also a veiled reference to “date rape” that was really uncomfortable. When I read that particular scene I thought, “ummm….she didn’t just blame herself for that did she?”

Ms. Hodgkin didn’t actually play at Wimbledon in 1962. I had to constantly remind myself that this was a NOVEL not a memoir, and Ms. Hodgkin used herself as a the main character.

If you are a tennis player, a fan of the game or a fan of Wimbledon – or even a fan of British chick lit – this was overall an amusing and entertaining read.