Cover Image: The Lido

The Lido

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Member Reviews

This was such a relaxing and charming read. I love swimming and particularly outdoors which is what drew me to this book in the first place. I haven't been to a lido in ages and this reminded me how much I miss it and what wonderful places they are, and definitely worth saving! They are like an oasis I'm not surprised that Rosemary wanted to fight so hard for somewhere that was so dear to her. I loved the friendship between Kate and Rosemary and it reminded me of how much we have to learn if only  we'll stop, make time and listen to our elders.
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I loved this book.  It was a very fast read.  Light and heartwarming - perfect combination for a lazy day!!  For a debut novel, I was completely shocked at how well written and put together it was.  I can't wait for more books by Libby.  Even though it was a little predictable at times, it was simply a delight to read!!
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I am always drawn to books with characters who are librarians. This book reminds me why. I am also a fan of relationships between older and younger people, because the older imparts wisdom, and the younger keeps the older young. Without delving too deeply into the plot, I feel this book explored the choices a community makes about keeping what's important, making the point that meeting places matter because they hold memories for people and are sure to provide more as long as they exist. I enjoyed this light, feel-good read.
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One of my best reads of the year so far. Wasn't what I was expecting at all. It was a gentle tale reminiscent of a bygone age and the characters were so well drawn that I really cared about them and what happened to them. I will admit to crying more than once mainly at Rosemary and Georges back story. I kept thinking about this book even when I wasn't reading it an I think it will stay with me for a while. Beautiful - and even though I'm not keen on swimming I now want to go to a lido. Thank you to Netgalley and to the author for the chance to read this title.
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The Lido is the story of a young journalist, an 86 year old woman, and a swimming site in Brixton, London threatened with closure. During this story we meet a swath of residents of the area and learn more about both Kate, who has moved to London for work, and Rosemary, who has lived here for her entire life.

Now that I have finished The Lido, I have found that nothing happened that I hadn’t anticipated early in my reading. During the second half of the book, the impact of interpersonal emotions did feel more real and earned, as the characters slowly revealed themselves to each other. An early problem for me was that Kate, a very prominent character, dominated much of the early chapters but was too closed off, even from herself, to make those chapters feel as real as they needed to be.

Another major issue I have with The Lido is the fact that nothing was a surprise, nothing was “new” either in the story or the way it was told. Every change seemed to follow an old script and was telegraphed well ahead. Yes it is a nice story and there are people to feel for, but there is no edge, no true surprising detail to grab me, the reader, and make me take note. Perhaps I am asking more than this book is purporting to provide, but when I read, I want something that might surprise me, perhaps treat an old subject in a slightly new way. This book simply did not do that for me.


A copy of this book was provided by the publisher through NetGalley in return for an honest review.
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I found this book to be a delightful read. It is told mostly from the points of view of Kate (a young journalist) and Rosemary (an 86 year old local) who are trying to keep their local lido open. 

What I loved about it is that it is a gentle tale, but quite profound as well. There are various people in the community that feature in this story too, to the point where it becomes less about the lido and more about the community of Brixton and its inhabitants. How people who are very different in many ways, somehow become a family. 

Rosemary was such a lovely character; feisty and strong, and yet also physically getting more frail. I enjoyed reading all her memories of her younger days, and her time spent with her husband when they were newlyweds. 

Kate was an interesting character too and it was really satisfying reading about her personal growth as the book progressed. 

All in all, this really is a terrific, multi-layered read with a lot of depth. 

Thank you to NetGalley and Orion.
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On Goodreads, the blurb for this novel says “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.” This is a very good summary of this book, although it wasn’t evident to me that Rosemary had been swimming at the Lido “since it opened its doors” but that’s a minor point.

Goodreads also calls this book “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.” While I can agree with almost all of this, there’s more. From my viewpoint, over and above this, Page also gives us portraits of two very different women, that also have much in common. Furthermore, Page also shows us how, through their serendipitous connection, these two women become more than they were before the two met; in other words, this is also a dual coming of age novel. 

Also, while this book will make you smile – and often, in fact – I’m not sure that “joyous” is the word that I would have chosen to apply to this novel. Yes, there are some very delightful parts of this story, but I felt that the overall atmosphere of the book was more a mixture of emotions, not all of them positive. For example, there’s a good deal of quiet resignation that runs throughout most of this story, which tends to color the mood of a majority of this story in a slightly grayish light (both because of and despite the famous English weather). This isn’t to say that the book is depressing, but rather that there’s a somewhat poignant undertone to most of the narrative.

What brightens this book up the most is the quiet grace and subtle optimism that Page imbues in Rosemary, who we can both adore and admire. While Kate never fully succeeds in emulating this by the end of this novel, Page makes us believe that Kate may eventually achieve this, even if that’s not actually spelled out in the story. The ability of an author to do this – assist the readers in imagining what happens after the last page – is something I truly appreciate, and for a debut novel, this is quite an achievement, so kudos to Page for that. Moreover, Page did a really lovely job with building up the minor characters, and avoiding any obvious pitfalls when it came to the romantic interest for Kate.

Together with this, Page also developed a very appealing plot, which allowed her to pull both Kate and Rosemary together along with all her other characters on a very interesting ride with the common goal of a community trying to save their beloved Lido. Between those parts of the story, Page also mingled in an excellent balance of the overview of Rosemary’s history with the Lido, which paralleled her lifelong love of her husband, George. 

As you can see, there is a whole lot to praise about this novel. However, there were a couple of things that didn’t sit completely right with me. One of these was the chapters in the book that described this fox that wanders the neighborhood. While I can understand why Page put these in the book, and I’m thankful she didn’t write them from the fox’s perspective, I felt that they didn’t really add all that much to the story. If it had been my novel, I probably would have left them out. The other thing that wasn’t quite right for me, were a couple of short chapters at the end of the novel, which gave the reader a touch too much information for my taste. Even so, Page is a very talented writer, with a lovely imagination and a true penchant for both character and plot development. That’s why I can recommend this book with a very strong four out of five stars.
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Thoroughly enjoyed this book.  It was a reflection of a caring and understanding community with a different and charming central theme.  A "lido" reflects something good about past times and how important it is to an ordinary neighborhood.  The central characters are endearing and I felt the whole book had something of times past about it.  Just a lovely story.
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Thanks to Netgalley for my copy.

This is a story of friendship between two unlikely characters Kate and Rosemary. Kate is a twenty something shy anxious journalist and Rosemary is an octogenarian still grieving the loss of her husband. They come together to talk about the possible closing of the Lido an open air swimming pool where Rosemary swims daily. This is a sweet book about the friendship and respect between these two. 

There were parts of the book that were very good reading but parts of the story I found I switched off and feel this book could have benefitted from better editing to pare the story down. It felt a little contrived and twee in places.
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(My actual rating would be 3.5 stars.)

Two women come together for a common cause and form a deep friendship despite the difference in their ages. One enjoys the memories of her past; the other wants to find her future. Both women will find a measure of comfort in the relationship they share in the present even as they fight to save something they love. Author Libby Page charms readers and will leave them smiling with her debut novel The Lido.

People might look at Kate Mathews and think she’s in her prime: a single woman in her twenties who has just moved to a bustling London suburb with a new job. Kate knows, though, that her life is anything but ideal. She’s moved to Brixton, yes, but she desperately misses the security of her own hometown. She’s landed a job as a writer, but she’s not covering meaty topics important to society. Her little blurbs serve as filler for the local paper. As for friends, well, Kate has none. About the same amount as her self-confidence.

Then she gets assigned a real story. The Brixton lido, or open-air swimming pool, is slated to close soon, and Kate’s job is to talk to people and do a quick roundup of thoughts and sentiments. A prominent housing development company looks in perfect position to buy the lido to turn it into flats, and the story itself seems destined to play out in expected fashion.

Except that Kate wasn’t counting on getting caught up in the excitement surrounding the lido—the excitement to save it, that is. Rosemary Peterson is leading the campaign, and Kate’s editor picks Rosemary as the most likely source for the feel-good information behind the lido’s history. What Kate finds, instead, is a charming, compelling woman with strong feelings about why the lido should stay open. 

For Rosemary, the lido represents more than a place for invigorating exercise. She’s come to swim there every single day since it opened. She met her late husband, George, at the lido and shared some of her sweetest moments with him there. The lido provided shelter during wartime and solace during other life challenges. The lido, to Rosemary, embodies whole sections of her existence.

Rosemary consents to an interview but only if Kate goes swimming at the lido first. As Kate takes the plunge—literally and figuratively—with Rosemary, she discovers some special people of her own. All of a sudden, the cause for saving the lido becomes just as vibrant and necessary for Kate as it is for Rosemary, and the two become close friends and co-conspirators in how to save a place that has given them both so much.

Debut author Libby Page will charm readers with her two main characters. She’s drawn two endearing protagonists in Kate and Rosemary, and their friendship earns the highest score for the book. Rosemary’s love story resonates with all the best elements of an old-world tale; Kate’s loneliness in a large city rings true for newly-independent people everywhere.

Slightly less successful is the novel overall. Some parts of the story feel a little too pat, and serendipity plays a role in many places. Marketing materials compare Page’s book to Fredrik Backman’s A Man Called Ove, but Page’s prose doesn’t stand up to Backman’s lyrical talent nor his ability to pack deep thought into the most casual paragraphs. 

Readers will most likely guess important plot advancements and even the ending long before Kate and Rosemary get to them, but the journey through the story is likeable enough. Also, Page drops in little pieces of each of the protagonists’ independent lives to make readers feel like they’re getting to know the characters well: Rosemary reminisces about her time with George; Page talks to her older sister and gets a chance to refresh that relationship. 

Overall the book may not offer readers a staggering story, but it’s a pleasant novel appropriate for a vacation or the beach.
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Many thanks to netgalley for an arc of this book in return for an honest review.

I have to be honest - I really struggled with this book and found myself drifting whilst reading but I did persevere till the end.  It is what it is - a light hearted summer read about friendship in a community and that is about as far as it goes.  Am so sorry I cant be more positive but the subject matter just wasn't gripping enough for me.
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Lovely book about friendship between an old lady and a young, shy librarian.  The swimming pool is the connection between the two individuals as well as being an integral part of the community. I wasn’t as enamoured with the book as the majority of the reviewers were, but I will find it very easy to recommend as I think it will strike a chord with the majority of readers.
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The Lido is a lovely and charming read that is perfect for summer. The story centers around a  community lido in south London that is under threat of closing, and the unlikely friendship that develops between a young journalist in her twenties and an octogenarian widow. Kate Mathews writes community interest articles for the local Brixton paper and is tasked with writing about the lido. Through this assignment, she meets life-long Brixton resident Rosemary, who has swum at the lido daily for decades. So many of Rosemary's most cherished memories have taken place at the lido, and the thought of losing this special place feels like she is losing her beloved husband George all over again.

Kate is quickly drawn to Rosemary's story and to the lido itself. When she takes up swimming again under Rosemary's encouragement, Kate's panic attacks begin to fade away. She discovers the importance of community through her friendship with Rosemary and the other patrons of the lido. The two women set out to save the lido from a developer that plans to turn it into tennis courts belonging to a luxury apartment building. Along the way, they each gain something they've been missing. The lido is more than a place to swim; it is a way of life, a community gathering point, an antidote to loneliness, and a shimmering memorial to love and friendship. 

My favorite thing about Libby Page's debut novel is the heartwarming friendship between Rosemary and Kate. It's not often that books feature intergenerational friendship in this way, and it was so refreshing to read about. Their relationship is one of mutual respect, appreciation, and enrichment. Neither woman would have been able to accomplish what they did without the other standing (or swimming) by her side. 

I also really enjoyed the themes of community and of change. The Lido felt very timely in its focus on gentrification and urbanization. Many of Page's observations of London life were beautifully and vividly rendered. I enjoyed some of the short chapter vignettes that followed secondary and tertiary Brixton residents - and even a fox - as they went about their days. However, I did feel like this got a bit gimmicky after a while and took away from the strength of the main story.

For the most part, I found The Lido to be solidly written; there were even some sections of prose that were simply dazzling. Yet there were also many times I thought the writing was lackluster and a bit unrefined. A lot of the dialogue and interior monologues of the characters didn't ring true for me. Sadly, this often took me out of the story too much. Overall, The Lido felt like the debut that it is, and while there were some moments of brilliance, I can't help but wish it had been more polished and streamlined. As much as I adored the story and the characters, they were let down a bit by the writing.

The Lido is a sweet and entertaining read that is well worth dipping your toe into. This story of friendship, loss, community, and change is sure to tug on your heartstrings. It will make you long for a warm summer day, a cold outdoor pool, and a good friend at your side. 

**A huge thank you to NetGalley and Simon & Schuster for the opportunity to read this ARC in exchange for an honest review**
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Nice read. Different plot to most ive read. Which was nice in this summer seaosn we were in. Could feel the outrage and wanting to close the Lido. Good interesting storyline and nice characters and well written
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Oh my goodness!
This is now at the top of my list of favorite books this year.
A simply sweet story about friendship and the joy of everyday life.
There was not one character I didn't like and I loved the different types of love that were shown in the book (siblings, couples, friends, etc).

This is a book I will recommend to people who are looking for a sweet, nice, feel good read.
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The Lido by Libby Page is a beautiful debut novel about the value of the community that surrounds us.  Centered around a fight to prevent the closing of a neighborhood pool, The Lido provides a refreshing look at the backdrop that shapes the lives of all who enter its walls.  From the 86 year old who swims every day to the reclusive journalist who finds herself being brought back to life in its cool waters, there exists a simple power to bring life into focus and knit together a community.  Will they be able to save the Lido?
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Cover reveals

Must-read women’s fiction: Books by Molly Harper, Karen White, Emily Giffin, Karma Brown and more
By: Leigh Davis | July 26, 2018 12:00 am 
So little time — so many books! This month we have double coverage of women’s fiction recommendations with both June and July books. So let’s dive in!
Little Big Love by Katy Regan
What it’s about:
Ten-year-old Zac Hutchinson collects facts: Octopuses have three hearts, Usain Bolt is the fastest man on earth.But no one will tell him the one thing he wants to know most: who his father is and where he went. 
When Zac’s mother, Juliet, inadvertently admits that his dad is the only man she’s ever loved, Zac decides he is going to find him and deliver his mom the happily ever after she deserves.
But Liam Jones left for a reason, and as Zac searches for clues of his father, Juliet begins to rebuild what shattered on the day that was at once the happiest and most heartbreaking of her life. 
Told through the eyes of Zac, Juliet, and grandfather Mick, Little Big Love is a layered, heartfelt, utterly satisfying story about family, love, and the secrets that can define who we are.
The right stuff: Zac is adorable! Complex family relationship is compelling, and point of view creates an ideal story. A winner!
The Lost for Words Bookshop by Stephanie Butland
What it’s about:
Loveday Cardew prefers books to people. If you look carefully, you might glimpse the first lines of the novels she loves most tattooed on her skin. But there are some things Loveday will never, ever show you.
Into her hiding place – the bookstore where she works — come a poet, a lover, and three suspicious deliveries.
Someone has found out about her mysterious past. Will Loveday survive her own heartbreaking secrets?
The right stuff: Marketed as a bibliophile delight, and it is true! Loveday will capture your heart as you become engrossed in the story of her guarding her own heart — from disappointment and betrayal. Wonderful backdrop romance as her Prince Charming helps break down the walls.
The Lido by Libby Page
What it’s about:
Rosemary Peterson has lived in Brixton, London, all her life but everything is changing.
The library where she used to work has closed. The family grocery store has become a trendy bar. And now the lido, an outdoor pool where she’s swum daily since its opening, is threatened with closure by a local housing developer. It was at the lido that Rosemary escaped the devastation of World War II; here she fell in love with her husband, George; here she found community during her marriage and since George’s death.
Twentysomething Kate Matthews has moved to Brixton and feels desperately alone. A once promising writer, she now covers forgettable stories for her local paper. That is, until she’s assigned to write about the lido’s closing. Soon Kate’s portrait of the pool focuses on a singular woman: Rosemary. And as Rosemary slowly opens up to Kate, both women are nourished and transformed in ways they never thought possible.
The right stuff: This book has been compared to Fredrik Backman’s A Man Called Ove because of its heartwarming theme of multigenerational relationships. It’s a marvelous flashback romance and features a developing one. There’s also a Goliath theme — a little guy against big business.
Ain’t She a Peach by Molly Harper
What it’s about:
An Atlanta ex-cop comes to sleepy Lake Sackett, Georgia, seeking peace and quiet—but he hasn’t bargained on falling for Frankie, the cutest coroner he’s ever met.
Frankie McCready talks to dead people. Not like a ghost whisperer or anything—but it seems rude to embalm them and not at least say hello.
Fortunately, at the McCready Family Funeral Home & Bait Shop, Frankie’s eccentricities fit right in. Lake Sackett’s embalmer and county coroner, Frankie’s goth styling and passion for nerd culture mean she’s not your typical Southern girl, but the McCreadys are hardly your typical Southern family.
The right stuff: The funeral home and bait shop combo is pure quirkiness, and it works! Frankie’s eccentricity is too droll. Plenty of romance. Southern idiosyncrasies at their most amusing.
The Late Bloomers’ Club by Louise Miller
What it’s about:
Nora, the owner of the Miss Guthrie Diner, is perfectly happy serving up apple cider donuts, coffee, and eggs-any-way-you-like-em to her regulars, and she takes great pleasure in knowing exactly what’s “the usual.” But her life is soon shaken when she discovers she and her free-spirited, younger sister Kit stand to inherit the home and land of the town’s beloved cake lady, Peggy Johnson. 
Kit, an aspiring—and broke—filmmaker thinks her problems are solved when she and Nora find out Peggy was in the process of selling the land to a big-box developer before her death. The people of Guthrie are divided—some want the opportunities the development will bring, while others are staunchly against any change—and they aren’t afraid to leave their opinions with their tips.
Time is running out, and the sisters need to make a decision soon. But Nora isn’t quite ready to let go of the land, complete with a charming farmhouse, an ancient apple orchard and the clues to a secret life that no one knew Peggy had. Troubled by the conflicting needs of the town, and confused by her growing feelings towards Elliot, the big-box developer’s rep, Nora throws herself into solving the one problem that everyone in town can agree on—finding Peggy’s missing dog, Freckles.
The right stuff: Miller does a wonderful job of showcasing the complex relationships we have with our siblings and how to lose the judgment and accept differences. Great sense of community, too!
The Lost Queen of Crocker County by Elizabeth Leiknes
What it’s about:
Crocker County crowns a new Corn Queen every year, but Jane Willow’s the one you would remember. She can’t forget Iowa, either. Even though she fled to LA to become a film critic years ago, home was always there behind her.
But when a family tragedy happens, she’s forced to drive back to Crocker County. The rolling farmlands can’t much hide the things she left behind: the best friend she abandoned who now runs a meatloaf hotline, the childhood front porch that sits hauntingly empty, and that fiasco of a Corn Fest that spun her life in a different direction. 
Before Jane can escape her past a second time, disaster strikes, and she will have to find a way to right her mistakes and save herself from her regrets. An unflinchingly love letter to the Midwest that unfolds through a celebration of movies, this ferociously endearing novel brings home the saving grace of second chances. 
The right stuff: Pure delight for film buffs. Riveting story of small-town girl transformed into mocking, skeptical sophisticate until she returns home and finds the courage to forgive herself and “make it right.” Strong multifaceted heroine. Wonderful “Believe So” theme.
All We Ever Wanted by Emily Giffin
What it’s about:
Nina Browning is living the good life after marrying into Nashville’s elite. More recently, her husband made a fortune selling his tech business, and their adored son has been accepted to Princeton. 
Yet sometimes the middle-class small-town girl in Nina wonders if she’s strayed from the person she once was.
Tom Volpe is a single dad working multiple jobs while struggling to raise his headstrong daughter, Lyla. His road has been lonely, long, and hard, but he finally starts to relax after Lyla earns a scholarship to Windsor Academy, Nashville’s most prestigious private school.
Amid so much wealth and privilege, Lyla doesn’t always fit in—and her overprotective father doesn’t help—but in most ways, she’s a typical teenaged girl, happy and thriving.
Then, one photograph, snapped in a drunken moment at a party, changes everything. As the image spreads like wildfire, the Windsor community is instantly polarized, buzzing with controversy and assigning blame.
At the heart of the lies and scandal, Tom, Nina, and Lyla are forced together—all questioning their closest relationships, asking themselves who they really are, and searching for the courage to live a life of true meaning.
The right stuff: Giffin combines today’s relevant themes of boys will be boys, the impact of social media and the MeToo movement into a compelling read.
Dreams of Falling by Karen White
What it’s about:
On the banks of the North Santee River stands a moss-draped oak that was once entrusted with the dreams of three young girls. Into the tree’s trunk, they placed their greatest hopes, written on ribbons, for safekeeping—including the most important one: Friends forever, come what may.
But life can waylay the best of intentions….
Nine years ago, a humiliated Larkin Lanier fled Georgetown, South Carolina, knowing she could never go back. But when she finds out that her mother has disappeared, she realizes she has no choice but to return to the place she both loves and dreads—and to the family and friends who never stopped wishing for her to come home.
Ivy, Larkin’s mother, is discovered badly injured and unconscious in the burned-out wreckage of her ancestral plantation home. No one knows why Ivy was there, but as Larkin digs for answers, she uncovers secrets kept for nearly fifty years—whispers of love, sacrifice, and betrayal—that lead back to three girls on the brink of womanhood who found their friendship tested in the most heartbreaking ways.
The right stuff: This one is everything you’ve come to expect from a Karen White book. Strong female friendships, a second chance at love and a great family mystery! (See an excerpt on HEA from Dreams of Falling.)
The Life Lucy Knew by Karma Brown 
What it’s about:
After hitting her head, Lucy Sparks awakens in the hospital to a shocking revelation: the man she’s known and loved for years—the man she recently married—is not actually her husband. In fact, they haven’t even spoken since their breakup four years earlier. The happily-ever-after she remembers in vivid detail—right down to the dress she wore to their wedding—is only one example of what her doctors call a false memory: recollections Lucy’s mind made up to fill in the blanks from the coma.
Her psychologist explains the condition as honest lying, because while Lucy’s memories are false, they still feel incredibly real. Now she has no idea which memories she can trust—a devastating experience not only for Lucy, but also for her family, friends and especially her devoted boyfriend, Matt, whom Lucy remembers merely as a work colleague.
When the life Lucy believes she had slams against the reality she’s been living for the past four years, she must make a difficult choice about which life she wants to lead, and who she really is.
The right stuff: An imaginative (and horrifying) plot of memories that are not truly memories. Strong romance and a true happy ending!
Leigh Davis is a former contributor to Heroes and Heartbreakers. When she is not reading, she’s usually outside throwing balls to her insatiable dogs. She loves hearing and talking about great books. You can connect with her on Twitter and Goodreads.
MORE ON HEA: See more posts by Leigh
Elizabeth Leiknes, Emily Giffin, Karen White, Karma Brown, Kate Regan, Libby Page, Louise Miller, Molly Harper, Stephanie Butland, women's fiction, Recommended reads, Top stories
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There’s the old adage “you can’t judge a book by Its cover”.  The cover of  the “The Lido” - a sumptuous aquamarine depiction of lanes of a swimming pool, complete with swimmer and jaunty red and white life-belt - renders the book irresistible, and I succumbed immediately, also intrigued by the book’s description promising a tale of two woman, 60 years apart in age, joining forces, and friendship, to save the much-loved community asset Brockwell Lido from greedy property developers.  

I wanted to like it, I really did, especially when so many other reviewers extolled it’s feel-good factor and the hype surrounding the book suggested an immediate pre-publication six-figure deal  for its brand new author and a film planned to follow.

But, I just didn’t get it.  The plot of two lonely people - 86 year old widower Rosemary who remembers the halcyon days through childhood and her long marriage to her beloved George spent at the lido and Kate, a troubled young reporter sent to write a story for the local newspaper, uniting to save it from closure but saving each other in the process - could have been sparky and vibrant.  However, the writing was prosaic, pedestrian and predictable, far too nice and oh so dull.  Anyone seriously writing “she is littler than” in adult fiction is going to immediately get my back up.  Whilst there were a few poignant moments when I began to hope for more it didn’t deliver and continued its way on to a fully expected neat and predictable ending.
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3.5 stars rounded up. My thanks go to Simon and Schuster and Net Galley for inviting me to read and review this charming debut. This book is for sale now. 

Kate is a journalist, painfully shy, anxious, and lonely. Rosemary is an elderly widow. When the Lido—which I learned is an open air swimming pool—in Brixton is slated to close, Rosemary is up in arms. She isn’t usually an activist, but she has swum in this pool her entire life, and many of the most memorable events she has experienced took place there. She loves it still, and she cannot abide the fact that the lido is being sold to private developers who want to put up “swish new high rises.” Rumor has it that it won’t even remain a swimming pool; they may pave it over and put in tennis courts. Rich folks love tennis. 

Kate smells a story, and she wants to interview Rosemary. Rosemary makes a counteroffer: she’ll do the interview only after Kate has swum at the Lido. 

For Kate, this is traumatic. She isn’t crazy about her own body, and the thought of disrobing in front of others in a locker room nearly undoes her. But she swims, and she gets her interview. Over the course of the fight to save the lido, which Kate joins, she and Rosemary become good friends, and Kate’s own life blossoms. At the same time, there’s a bit of history here as we wander back in time with Rosemary to the war years when she met her husband, George. 

The text has a soothing quality that you don’t see much of anymore. It’s not a page turner, and gets a bit slow in places, but sometimes a more sedate pace is what’s needed. I found it good bedtime reading, because it helped me unwind. My feminist heart is cheered by a story in which both main characters are female, and neither of them fits the tiny-but-fierce model that so many writers seem to favor. Kate is awkward. Rosemary is a fat old granny. Oh hell yes. Both are white women; there is a side character named Ahmed, but those looking for a truly diverse bit of fiction will have to look elsewhere. 

Some readers are disturbed by blue language and sex scenes. Though the story isn’t entirely devoid of these, there’s very little of it.  The text is accessible to anyone with a high school education. 

There are moments where the sweetness goes over the top. I gagged when the Brownie troop joined the protest to save the pool, and I wondered how Rosemary could have dozens of sweet memories of George and not even a single resentful or ambiguous one. But these are relatively small concerns. 

For those looking for a feel good story, this book is recommended.
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The Lido left me with tears in my eyes and a smile on my face.  Like Frederick Backman (before the darkness of Beartown and Us Against You), Libby Page writes a character-forward, heart-felt story that will leave you loving her characters and cheering them on.

I want to be an old woman like Rosemary.
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