Thursday 27 October 2016

Fiction: The Singles Game by Lauren Weisberger

Harper, €9.99

Anne Cunningham

Published 15/08/2016 | 02:30

The Singles Game by Lauren Weisberger
The Singles Game by Lauren Weisberger

The author of The Devil Wears Prada is back with a similar moral tale in this book, but the set of the magazine office has been swapped for that of the tennis court. Or several world-class international tennis courts, opening with Wimbledon. Charlotte "Charlie" Silver is a professional player, seeded 23rd in women's singles tennis, and she's determined to be the next Serena Williams. But an accident on the court in Wimbledon, caused by having to wear the wrong tennis shoes at the last minute, is followed by months of rest and rehabilitation, and it's looking like Charlie's tennis days may be over. She is only 24 years of age.

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After some soul-searching, she is persuaded to sack her tennis coach and hire someone else, someone harder and hungrier. Enter Todd Feltner, celebrated tennis coach, who up to now has only coached men, and who is a character similar to Miranda Priestley, the editor-from-hell who played such a significant role in Prada. Todd is the new "devil" in this novel, with a selection of character traits akin to those of a terrorist, but with twice the killer instinct. His first job is to transform Charlie's image, from nice, tanned, wholesome Californian girl to "Warrior Princess". She can only wear black from now on, and her court knickers are to be hallmarked with Swarovski crystals.

Charlie reluctantly allows herself to be transformed, acknowledging that this is all part of the game, one which involves a whole lot more than tennis. It's a well-researched book about a sport which is obviously close to the author's heart. It's also a dismaying glimpse at the world of international tennis where the only game in town is dog eat dog, and if you want to be the best, you'd better be prepared to sell your soul. To you-know-who!

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