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The Lido

Review

The Lido

Twentysomething journalist Kate Matthews is struggling. She's struggling to get through each day because of the panic that washes over her and threatens to steal everything she has worked to achieve. “The Panic,” as she refers to it, will surely swallow her whole if she doesn't find a solution immediately.

Originally from Bristol where she attended university, Kate now lives in Brixton, sans family or friends. After earning a master's in journalism in London, she finds a job at the Brixton Chronicle, a small local paper. She lives in a house with four other people, “two students and two who do something but she's not quite sure what,” and eats a microwave dinner in her lonely room each night before crawling into her bed where she dissolves into tears and despair.

Rosemary Peterson, Kate's opposite in many ways, is an 86-year-old widow. While also lonely, she longs for her husband George, the love of her life, who she lost a few years ago. Otherwise, she has a circle of friends and acquaintances with whom she connects regularly and happily.

"Libby Page makes a huge splash (pardon the pun) with her debut novel.... THE LIDO is an exquisite story in every way. Page has blown me away with her charmingly captivating tale."

On her weekly shopping day, Rosemary meets Hope, her friend and former co-worker from the now-defunct Brixton library, for “a weekly catch-up and slice of cake.” She then visits a used bookstore run by Frank and his partner, Jermaine, and buys her fruits and vegetables from Ellis, who came to Brixton from St. Lucia as a boy and grew up to run a local produce stand. The best part of Rosemary's day, though, is spent at the Brockwell Lido, an outdoor swimming pool, located just across the street from the third-floor flat where she has lived since 1950.

In Rosemary's eyes, the lido is everything. It's the place where she learned to swim when she was just a girl living in Brixton when most families had evacuated during World War II. It's the place where she and George spent some of the happiest days of their decades-long marriage. After all, “Rosemary is eighty-six but in the water she is ageless.” The lido is also the thing that brings Rosemary and Kate together in an unlikely friendship.

Although Brixton without the lido is unfathomable, the town council and a property company called Paradise Living see things differently. Due to budget issues, the council wants to sell the lido to Paradise Living, which plans to create a members-only gym.

When Kate's editor assigns her an article on the closing of the lido, her initial goal is to garner an interview with Rosemary. What Kate doesn't anticipate is Rosemary's demand that Kate swim at the lido first before she answers her questions.

Initially overcome with panic at the thought of changing in front of others and swimming in the pool, Kate manages to propel herself into the water. Once there, something strange and wonderful happens to her: She begins to relax.

Over the upcoming weeks, the initial success of the interview with Rosemary turns into a fervent campaign by Kate, Rosemary and the other locals to save their lido. Rosemary regrets that she didn't do more to try and prevent the closing of the library all those years ago. This time, she wants to get it right. Besides, what would she do without her beloved lido? Will Kate, Rosemary and company manage to thwart the authority of the council and the deep pockets of Paradise Living to keep their haven, or will they become another casualty killed by the bottom line?

THE LIDO is an endearingly beautiful story about the power of friendship to overcome loneliness and how friendship can heal even the most broken of hearts. It's also a David and Goliath tale of what sometimes happens when the underdog isn't afraid to try.

Libby Page makes a huge splash (pardon the pun) with her debut novel. From the vibrant cover to the beautiful blue endsheets covered with waves that resemble the ripples in a pool just inside the book’s hardcover to the painstakingly perfect prose within, THE LIDO is an exquisite story in every way. Page has blown me away with her charmingly captivating tale.

Reviewed by Amie Taylor on July 13, 2018

The Lido
by Libby Page

  • Publication Date: July 10, 2018
  • Genres: Fiction, Women's Fiction
  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster
  • ISBN-10: 150118203X
  • ISBN-13: 9781501182037