This could have been a stronger novel if the author had focus less on the main character and more on the various characters in the swimming society. Parallels are drawn to the Polar bear club in the exposition in the earlier part of the novel. But it is their friendship and lives which are more interesting instead of just the depiction of swimming in a cold pond. It felt under-written and certain characters remains shadowy and almost sketched in. This feels like the movie "Steel Magnolias" without any strong leads at all. JM Barrie hovers like a spectre , pretty much like the dead wife of one of the characters. He ended up jutting out like a sore thumb and disrupting the flow of the plot. It is as if the author was trying to dovetail all her research material into the book regardless of its appropriateness.
It feels like a mish-mash of a rom-com with historical fiction and family drama/chick lit. Too many genres at play with so little back story to work with.