I really liked the sound of The Lido when I first heard about it late last year, and I was thrilled to receive an early copy to read and review. Whilst I expected to enjoy this novel, I didn’t expect to be so thoroughly caught up in the plot to save Brockwell Lido.
Meet Rosemary, 86, and Kate, 26: dreamers, campaigners, outdoor swimmers…
Rosemary has lived in Brixton all her life, but everything she knows is changing. Only the local lido, where she swims every day, remains a constant reminder of the past and her beloved husband George.
Kate has just moved and feels adrift in a city that is too big for her. She’s on the bottom rung of her career as a local journalist and is determined to make something of it.
So when the lido is threatened with closure, Kate knows this story could be her chance to shine. But for Rosemary, it could be the end of everything. Together they are determined to make a stand, and to prove that the pool is more than just a place to swim – it is the heart of the community.
The Lido is an uplifting novel about the importance of friendship, the value of community, and how ordinary people can protect the things they love.
I absolutely loved the characters of Rosemary and Kate, who, given the age difference, make something of an unlikely pair, although their friendship is so perfectly portrayed that it’s no stretch of the imagination to picture it. Rosemary is an absolute gem – she has a kind word for everyone, and everyone looks out for her in turn. And I loved her memories of her late husband George. Brockwell Lido played a significant role in their relationship both in the first tentative steps of getting to know each other, as well as being somewhere they went together throughout their married life. It’s partly down to this that Rosemary is so invested in the lido’s fate, and it makes her a strong advocate and campaigner, despite the council’s best attempts to ignore her as a little old dear. Rosemary had me cheering from the side lines, and there are some real laugh out loud moments that stem from Rosemary and her actions, as well as a tear or two.
Kate is a very different character, a little shy and timid when we first meet her, she soon shows her strengths as she devotes herself to the campaign to save the lido, which she only came across through her job as a reporter. I really felt a lot for Kate, who feels very alone in the city at the outset, having not made any friends in her two years there and who struggles with occasional panic attacks, which I thought were accurately portrayed. The campaign to save the lido introduces Kate to a whole host of people many of whom she comes to consider as close friends. Additionally, it was thoroughly refreshing to meet a character who isn’t physically perfect but comes to accept herself as she is – I really don’t think that there are enough characters like this.
I also loved the sense of community portrayed here, with everyone finding a way to do their bit in the campaign, and with all age groups and people from all walks of life represented. Some of their actions are quite amusing, and I absolutely loved the rubber ducks! I don’t think I’ve ever become so invested in the fate of a place that I’ve never actually visited. It seems that barely a day goes by when we’re not hearing about another cut to funding that results in the ever-diminishing services to our towns and cities, be it lidos, libraries etc. Whilst a work of fiction, people CAN make a difference in these situations, and there’s a message in this novel about protecting the facilities you’ve got access to, although it’s all too often a case of you don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone.
The Lido is beautifully written, and Libby Page has delivered a stunning first novel that is amusing and incredibly poignant. The Lido will be published by Orion on 19 April. Many thanks to Rebecca Grey for providing a copy for review.
Rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐