The Lido by Libby Page
Genre: contemporary fiction
I read it as a(n): hardback
Length: 310 pp
Her Grace’s rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Kate is a young woman living in the Brixton neighborhood of London, working at a local newspaper. She isn’t in charge of any important articles – mostly ads for lost pets and new restaurants – and seems to be struggling to launch. Rosemary is an 86-year-old widow who has never traveled outside of Brixton and has a lifetime’s worth of experience. The two should never have crossed paths, until Kate is assigned to interview the people of Brixton who have lived much of their life around the Brockwell Lido, an outdoor swimming and rec area. Kate decides to learn more about the lido and help to prevent it from being paved over for tennis courts by a developer for luxury apartments. Rosemary decides she’s never met anyone more in need of a swim than Kate. Friendship ensues.
This was such a sweet book. It sort of had the same feel as A Man Called Ove in that there were several generations of people making unlikely friends with each other. Kate finds her stride over the months she works to interview the people who have put the lido at the center of their community, and she becomes friends not only with Rosemary but with several other members of the Brixton community. She learns that she can do hard things and do them well.
Rosemary sees Kate as a last hope of saving her beloved lido, where she has swum daily since it opened in the 1930s, where she met and fell in love with her husband George, and where she places her sense of self even more so than at her home. She learns that there is still a lot of life left to live even if George is gone and possibly her lido as well.
I read this for my book club and I’m glad this is the one that was selected. It was a sweet, fast read that had all the warm fuzzy feels and a couple face leaks.
- Kate felt more comfortable in her books than she does in real life. She liked to reread her favorite stories: knowing what was going to happen made her feel calm, as though she was directing the story herself (29).
- There are no cubicles free in the communal changing room so Kate peels off her clothes behind her towel. Fear of being seen naked brings out flexibility she didn’t know she had (44).
- …she will tell him about the protest and the ducks and how proud she felt standing with her friends underneath the banner and the lido clock. How she felt like she was a somebody (185).