Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Review - The Lido by Libby Page - a feel good book

What an absolute delight this book was to read. It's a real feelgood book about loneliness, friendship and people, it has a real sense of place and community.

Set in Brixton, London it centres on a bunch of random and disparate people who are soehow drawn together by a sense of purpose and that reason is to save a Lido swimming pool from being closed down. We must all have come across something like this over recent years. A local council struggling for funds sells off a public building, maybe a library, a swimming baths or a community centre, we complain, we mutter and we possibly sign a petition to try and help save it, but how many of actually take action?

Rosemary and Kate do just that.

The Lido has been part of Rosemarys life for over 80 years, she swam there as a child, met her husband there and spent all of her married life using it, looking out at it from the window of her flat.

Kate is a junior journalist, she lacks confidence and suffers panic attacks, but when she is asked by her boss to write an article about the imminent closure of the local Lido pool, something makes her want to get involved. As this interest is born it begins to change her life in subtle little ways. She finally has a sense of purpose, she begins to make friends and as she gets more and more involved we feel her grow and change.

The main story is of the saving of a place which is important to many people. The real thread which holds it together is that of an unlikely friendship between an 86 year old woman and the young writer, 60 years her junior.

Even if, like me you're not a keen swimmer you won't fail to want the campaign to save the lido to succeed especially when in a series of flashbacks and lovely reminiscences we discover just how much of a part it has played in Rosemarys past.

The cast are wonderful, the story is completely absorbing and full of joy and warmth and love. It's absolutely, without question, the most perfect summer read imaginable and I hope you adore it as much as I did.

The Blurb

A tender, joyous debut novel about a cub reporter and her eighty-six-year-old subject—and the unlikely and life-changing friendship that develops between them.

Kate is a twenty-six-year-old riddled with anxiety and panic attacks who works for a local paper in Brixton, London, covering forgettably small stories. When she’s assigned to write about the closing of the local lido (an outdoor pool and recreation center), she meets Rosemary, an eighty-six-year-old widow who has swum at the lido daily since it opened its doors when she was a child. It was here Rosemary fell in love with her husband, George; here that she’s found communion during her marriage and since George’s death. The lido has been a cornerstone in nearly every part of Rosemary’s life.

But when a local developer attempts to buy the lido for a posh new apartment complex, Rosemary’s fond memories and sense of community are under threat.

As Kate dives deeper into the lido’s history—with the help of a charming photographer—she pieces together a portrait of the pool, and a portrait of a singular woman, Rosemary. What begins as a simple local interest story for Kate soon blossoms into a beautiful friendship that provides sustenance to both women as they galvanize the community to fight the lido’s closure. Meanwhile, Rosemary slowly, finally, begins to open up to Kate, transforming them both in ways they never knew possible.

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