The Lido

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 10 Jul 2018

Member Reviews

This book is equally one of the most frustrating books I have ever read, and also one of the most enjoyable books I have ever read. How, you ask? Well, the first page of The Lido makes absolutely zero sense, and the ending pissed me off to the nth degree, but everything in between was perfectly adorable. So let's start with the bad stuff first.

The book starts in second person, and I immediately thought I was going to hate this book because I don't like books set in second person at all, but then it disappeared never to be seen again. Why would it even start that way in the first place? I guess that was a stylistic choice I just do not understand, just like the ending. [spoiler] Why the author chose to kill of Rosemary, I'll never understand. The book inspired me, made me feel good, and I liked the ending of them saving The Lido, but then out of nowhere we are at Rosemary's funeral and I just feel like it was tacked on, manipulative, and absolutely unnecessary. It seems that every time there's an old person in a book the author chooses to kill them off and I'm starting to feel like I get why old people start to feel useless to society once they reach a certain age.  It's fine if the death adds something to the story, but in this case I absolutely feel that it was a better book without it. [/spoiler]

For the most part though, I loved The Lido. But first, I need to talk directly to British people. What the fuck do you think you're doing, swimming in an unheated pool when it's below 60 degrees Fahrenheit and trying to pass off to me how refreshing it is to do this? Look, I am not a polar bear. The idea of anyone actually enjoying being in cold water when it's cold outside is absolutely inconceivable to me. I'm pretty sure it's inconceivable to Michael Phelps too. It sounds absolutely fucking batshit crazy. And at the same time, I sort of admire your balls, British people. I always wondered why, when British people come over here to go to Disney World, they went to the water parks when it's like 65 degrees out. Now I know the answer to that question. So it's kind of funny, but the whole time I was reading this book, I was just overwhelmed by the fact they were swimming in an outdoor, unheated swimming pool when it was cold outside. And I could never really get past it. I loved the book completely, but yeah, wow. Not sure why the UK doesn't cover or heat their pools, but whatevs.

So this book is loosely, and I mean loosely based on something that actually happened at a place that actually exists. The Brockwell Lido was bought out by private investors back in the 90s, and it was closed for four years before finally being reopened, thanks to public outcry. Not exactly what happened in this book as the pool in The Lido never actually closed, but there was a whole lot of public interest that went into saving the Brockwell Lido, thanks to Rosemary and Kate.

And that brings me to the characters, or what was actually the best part of The Lido: Rosemary and Kate, their friendship, and the characteristics and life experiences that made them dynamic women. Because to be truthful, not a whole lot happens in this book. There is a bunch of swimming, Kate dealing with her anxiety (which I loved) and writing articles about the Brockwell Lido for the local paper she works for, and Rosemary dealing with life and old age while reminiscing about life with her husband that had passed away. She met George at a party at the park that contains the lido, swam at the lido (and sneaked into it together), all while living in an apartment that directly overlooks the lido. Rosemary's entire life revolves around Brixton, its people, and the Brockwell Lido. No wonder she wants to save it so badly. Everything in her part of London is changing, and she's old and nothing reminds her of her younger years anymore. I definitely recommend this book if you love character-driven novels about interesting people and unique relationships.
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Libby Page's The Lido is a heartwarming read, which I raced through.  It is predictable for almost the entirety of its plot, but it is nicely written, and peopled with an interesting and diverse cast of characters, who are united and come to know one another in the fight to save Brixton's lido.  A lot of important issues have been explored here, and whilst one or two do feel a little superficial, the novel has been well structured, and provides an enjoyable piece of escapism.  It is a little too sentimental at times, but would make a great choice for an easy and thoughtful holiday read.
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I really wanted to like this book. I respect the author's idea - a story about two people connecting even though they are generations apart. It made me want to have a friend several decades older than me so I could learn from her. But the story itself fell flat. There were two main problems for me: First, I wanted more action, and, second, I wanted the characters to each have more of a dark side. 

The story revolves around a swimming pool, apparently called a "lido" in British English. As the story opens, a large housing developer wants to buy the land and convert it to tennis courts. The pool, currently open to everyone, is a community hub in Brixton. The tennis courts, on the other hand, would only be open to the wealthy residents of the developer's housing. For me, the action happened too slowly. I wanted the book to be about a third shorter than it was, and I found myself skimming too often. On the plus side, the story arc was satisfying and is the thing I will most remember from the book. I won't give anything away, but I will say that it was a sort of "community development" learning opportunity for me. The resolution took me by surprise, in a good way. 

As for the characters, I had trouble caring about them. They may have had a flaw or two (which of course always makes a character more interesting), but they lacked a dark side and nuance. They were all syrupy sweet, in my opinion. I wanted more grit. I'm not saying I wanted them to be horrible people; I just wanted them to be in a bad mood or to say something selfish or something once in a while. 

In short, I liked the ideas in this book. I had trouble forcing myself to read it all the way through because I was tired of the syrupy sweetness of the characters and the slow plot development. But I am interested to see what this author comes up with next.
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Lovely. Heartwarming. Joyful. The Lido by Libby Page is all these things and more. It’s about loneliness and friendship, community and gentrification. It’s about Kate, an entry level journalist at the local Brixton newspaper who’s lonely and anxious, uncertain if she’s made the right choice. It’s about Rosemary, who at nearly 90 years old has spent her entire life in this corner of London, and whose epic love story with her late husband George is imprinted in the streets and shops around her flat. And bringing all these strands together is the local lido, the outdoor swimming pool at threat of closure. 

I haven’t been able to start another book since finishing it (in tears, I might add), as my mind keeps returning to Rosemary, Kate, and the lido. If you want to be reminded of all that’s good in the world, seriously, pick up a copy of a The Lido and get ready to smile, laugh, and cry (and maybe give in to the urge to go for an outdoor swim). You won’t regret it.
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4.5 stars

This debut novel is a beautiful book celebrating the importance of community and relationships.  As I read The Lido, I marveled that it is Libby Page’s debut – the story is very well-written.  The book tells the tale of Kate, a lonely 26-year-old suffering from anxiety, and Rosemary, an 86-year-old widow who swims daily at her local lido (an outdoor pool and recreation center).  The lido is targeted by a development company who wants to buy the land to build an expensive apartment complex.  Kate works at a local paper and is assigned to write a story about the closing of the lido; as she begins working on the story, Kate meets Rosemary, and the two form a life-changing friendship that benefits and transforms both women.  Working together, they rally the community to build support to save the lido while simultaneously learning the value of friendship and community.  

The Lido is simply fabulous from beginning to end; Libby Page has crafted a heart-warming tale that will stay with me for a long time.  She interweaves love, loss, aging, and the value of relationships into a tale that will appeal to everyone.  I highly recommend The Lido; make sure you have tissues handy when you read it!  I received this book to read and review; all opinions are my own.
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An wonderfully uplifting read. Everything about this book warms the heart - the characters, the setting, the sense of a very real community, the relationships between young and old are all outstandingly portrayed. Such a simple storyline that worms its way inside the reader in a very special way.
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This review will be published at the link below and on Goodreads on 25 April.

In brief ★★★

The Lido is a tender, heartfelt novel about community and friendship that falls into the 'comfort read' category without being too fluffy or twee (i.e. there are some moments like that, but not too many!). The novel centres around the friendship between Kate and Rosemary, and the way they support and encourage one another as their local lido (public swimming pool) is threatened by property developers. There are good doses of humour and nostalgia amid sensitive treatment of serious issues (anxiety, loneliness, the decline of community and public services), and I found the combination more moving than I expected. A lighter, pleasurable read.

I received an advanced e-book copy from Simon & Schuster via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

In depth

Plot: Regular swimmer at the local Brixton lido, octogenarian Rosemary, is appalled when the council announces the pool will be sold to property developers to become a private members' gym. We flash back through her eight decades of association with the place throughout the novel, to understand what it means to her and the community. The homemade protest poster she made comes to the attention of young local reporter Kate, who's trying to be taken seriously as a journalist while struggling with acute anxiety. As the 'save the lido' story impacts Kate's career, she and Rosemary form a close friendship, bringing out the best in one another as each faces adversity. I found much of the plot predictable, but in a comforting way - I felt in safe hands with a story that was going to deliver everything expected, which it did. The chapters switch perspectives between the two women, but also shadow other members of the community associated with the lido, including a wild fox!

Characters: Rosemary is the lynchpin of this novel, just as the lido is of the community. She is tenacious and kind, and the narration demonstrates her emotional complexity, avoiding the trope of 'the crone' in storytelling. Kate, I feel, is the protagonist, though, as she grows and changes . Both women are supported by a cast of minor characters, mostly men, who revolve around them (and the lido) and are mostly defined by their roles (although there is a lovely wedding scene between the two bookshop owners that breaks that mould a bit).

Themes: Community and connection are the core of this book - not only the rallying together in the save the lido campaign, and the significance of public places for engendering a sense of community, but for Kate as she pushes through her anxiety to connect with Rosemary and reconnect with her sister. The Lido is very much a reflection on the importance of place - how it grounds us, and how shifting can dislocate who we are, until we find out feet again. Grief is also a strong presence in this story - Rosemary feels that farewelling the lido is akin to grieving for her husband all over again, so strong is his memory at the place.

Writing: The Lido is on the lighter side, written to be read with ease. I'm not totally sure that the perspective changes (which I couldn't make out a pattern for) entirely worked - there were a lot more unnamed character shadowing sections at the beginning of the novel than later on - but on balance they did add, rather than detract, from the narrative. On occasion the terminology got repetitive (there are a lot of reflections on 'our lido' that grow a bit wearisome), but the writing isn't trying to be too ornate or fancy - Page is sitting down to tell us a warm, straightforward tale with a big heart. While I enjoyed the story, I personally prefer more literary writing (e.g. wider vocabulary, unique turns of phrase, more complex imagery/symbolism), but I'm certain this story will have broad appeal and by no means was it insubstantial.
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What a delightful read. I can picture the movie in my mind’s eye as I read it. The warm, humble, yet terribly strong Rosemary who’s seen and experienced so much at her beloved lido. The shy and anxious Kate who just needs a friend. The iconic London location filled with all the delights that only inner cities exude. Well written and a fantastic debut. A curl up with a good cuppa kind of book, and thoroughly recommended for a lazy Saturday read. 

Thank you Simon and Schulster for the opportunity to read via NetGalley.
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This is a very British feel good story that happens in a small community.

The huge cast and detailed descriptions reminds me of another British novel I've read, How to Find Love in a Bookshop, only with a lido instead of a bookshop. (There is a bookshop, but it's not the main scene here.)

The language is extremely descriptive. In some parts, it reads like the voice-over narration of a British movie. Yes, British. It read British. Too bad I can’t do a British accent. Otherwise, I would read it aloud like a British girl. I really like this tone. The issue here, is that the descriptions include A LOT of street names that won’t make sense to you unless you live there. (I’m doing this second person thing because that’s how the book starts, describing the area with a second person narrative.)

Rosemary and Kate are two lonely women living essentially alone in Brixton. They're somewhat content with their lives, but not quite. Especially Kate, who doesn't even know her flatmates, and barely speaks to anyone outside of work. Kate is basically me. She works at a small local newspaper and does some copyediting work on the side. (I work at a publisher and translate books on the side.) She changes into her pjs once inside her bedroom and stays that way till the end of the day. She even swims with her head above the water like me! I've had that exact conversation about "But doesn't your neck get tired?" with an elderly man only the year before the last. So I get her sometimes overwhelming loneliness and the thought of not getting anywhere. It happens to young people who live alone in a big city.

The are parallels between the lives of these two women. They both grow up in the neighborhood they were born in, and stayed there (at least for a while) during adulthood. They even have similar experiences when it comes to learning to swim. It's a typical story of "unlikely friendship", but that doesn't mean it's not as heartwarming as the last one we read.

Overall, this is a relaxing story that would go well with a cup of tea or at a pool. The issues many Goodreads reviewers mentioned are there, the characters are a bit flat, the plot lacks spice, and the story overall is not that outstanding. It's not going to win multiple awards like Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine, which is immediately compared to with this one. But I believe it can be a hit with the right marketing and advertising.

On another note, there were several animals that pop up in the story every now and then. You forget they exist for a while, then, bam, there they are again. It's kind of cute but I have no idea what purpose do they serve, if any.
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A young writer takes on a story about how a local swimming pool is going to be shut down and redeveloped and in the process finds a new life. She interviews an elderly lady who started coming to the pool as a young woman, and begins to learn her story and understand why the lido pool is so important to the community and all the people who live there.
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One of the advanced categories on my 2018 Reading Challenge was a book by someone with the same first or last name as you.   I then saw this debut novel reviewed (I suspect in Red Magazine, that’s where I get a lot of my book recommendations from) and finally saw I could get an advance review copy from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review – it seemed so serendipitous that I had to read it!!

Here’s the blurb:

“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.”

It is such a really lovely book.  You are rooting for Kate from the start – she reminds me, in some ways, of Eleanor Oliphant – in the debut novel hit of 2017 ‘Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine’.  A loaner who struggles a bit with other people and who comes out of her shell as the book progresses.

Rosemary is similar in age to my Grandmother and honorary Grandmother – and reminded me in particular of my honorary Grandma – who despite being in her very late 80s is up for anything! This photo of Grandma on holiday in a pool with a beer would be very ‘Rosemary’ too!

The book also looks back over the life and marriage of Rosemary and her husband George – it is such a fond and loving partnership that endured many many years – just like honorary Grandma and Grandad.

The main storyline of the book is the proposed closure of the lido in a Brixton Park by evil property developers (I say that with tongue firmly in cheek as it’s a hat I also wear when not reading books!!) but the relationships between the various characters and the community of Brixton really fills the story out.  The descriptions of Brixton – both the urban areas – but also the parks – are really evocative, even though it’s not a place I know at all.

I enjoyed the interaction between all of the different characters – but it’s the relationship between Kate and Rosemary that is vital to the story – and life changing for both people.  I can see how it could happen in real life too.

The community spirit was fabulous – and reminded me of the village where I live – not a suburb of London, but still with a wide cross section of people who often all pull together for local causes.

Kate’s relationships not just with Rosemary but with her sister, housemates, parents, colleagues are all explored – it’s so lovely seeing Kate blossom.

The ending was great – not exactly what I would have predicted either, which is always a bonus, and had me weeping (which isn’t difficult to be fair!!)

Overall this is a beautifully written book, which is an easy and enjoyable read – perfect for whilst lounging round a lido this summer maybe?!?
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Received this book from Net Galley,well written book,gives the reader a true picture of a community,real feel to it as it names places in the book that gives the reader a visual picture in the mind eye,covers community spirit, now and then,and different generations living and working together,helping each other out.
This is definately a book everyone should read for 2018,a best seller in the making.
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I picked up this charming novel on a rainy Sunday morning and read it in one sitting.  A great feel-good book which has a friendship at its core.  Lovely and quick read but with some poignant messages about love, marriage, community and friendship.
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Fix yourself a pot of tea and find a comfortable chair with a cosey blanket nearby (you might need it when you read about the cold water) and enter the wonderful world of The Lido, in Brixton, London.

If you have friends of different ages and especially appreciate the older, wiser section of our society, you will thoroughly enjoy this story.  

The Lido contains a Love Story for the ages.  A couple first found each other early in their lives and their love story continues for many years.  Rosemary, 86 is still very much in love with George, although he has passed away 2 year prior to this story (this is not a spoiler).

The story is also about a lonely young women, Kate, who lives with so much fear, yet she fights it to try to have the life she can envision.  Her path crosses with Rosemary at a time when Kate's spirits are very low.  They develop a friendship that both benefit greatly from.  (An aside here: Rosemary reminded me so much of an older friend I had that is now deceased. It was so heartwarming for me to re-visit our friendship along with reading Kate and Rosemary's friendship take root and grow.)

The Lido also has a current-time love story forming in the book.  I will not write about it, and let you enjoy it first hand.

The Brixton neighborhood, the Lido and it's inhabitants are also strong characters throughout the book.  The writing of Libby Page is wonderful and you feel a part of the community and are welcomed with opened arms. I especially enjoyed the view of the area, several times, through the eyes of a fox roaming around, him also a part of the Brixton community.

I recommend The Lido highly and hope you enjoy the visit to Brixton as much as I did.  I want to thank NetGalley.com and Simon & Schuster for the advanced reader's copy of this book and introducing me to Libby Page's work.  I will definitely follow her and look forward to her future work. This book is set to be released on July 10, 2018.
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The Lido is a slow burner, but I found the story of Kate's friendship with Rosemary and their battle to save the Lido very moving.  It's both a story of a specific friendship and a celebration of community in the widest sense - as the unlikely duo struggle to save the Lido from evil developers they are helped by a growing cast of assorted colleagues, family members and acquaintances who become friends.

At times I wanted to skip over the chapters which depicted Rosemary's early life and relationship with her husband, as I found Kate's story more compelling - her initial anxiety and loneliness make her a sympathetic character, however as the two stories developed I found the sections about Rosemary very moving.

The Lido has a good, but realistic ending, which I also appreciated - it would make a great film!
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I was given an advance reader’s copy in exchange for an honest review

This is a very sweet book, nothing unexpected, pure comfort reading for a rainy day, but it’s also anti-gentrification and pro-immigrant in a way I wasn’t expecting. Definitely a love letter to Brixton.
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A heartwarming story of an unlikely friendship between a young woman and an elderly woman who come together in an attempt to save the local lido.  I really enjoyed this "feel good" story!  Thank you to NetGalley and Orion publishing for an advanced reader's copy in exchange for an honest review.
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This novel is beautifully written with elegant, almost poetic prose that carried me along from page to page like the smooth strokes of a swimmer gliding through the water. It was comforting to read the story of Rosemary and George's long and loving marriage. I felt like I knew and loved both of them by the time the book was over.  I loved the story of how the community pulled together to try to save the community pool that Rosemary had been swimming in for 80 years.  And I also loved the transformation of the young journalist, Kate, as well as many others in the community... transformation that sprang from their close connection with Rosemary.  Highly recommend.

I was able to read this book for free from NetGalley, and am grateful to the publisher and the author for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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A readable and cute novel about inter-generational friendship. The plot was slow and the prose awkward at times (especially toward the beginning, before I got used to the voice), but it was enjoyable enough. I feel like the exposition and constant telling instead of showing got in the way of a smooth reading experience.
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