Title: The Lido
Writer: Libby Page
Publishing House: Orion
Date of Publication: April 19th 2018
‘’She folded herself into the shape of Hermione Granger or George from the Famous Five or Catherine Morland from Northanger Abbey and tried to be them for a day. When she started secondary school her friends were the characters she met in the pages of her books.’’
I confess I am not a lover of the sea or the pool. Although a Cancer born in the middle of July, I’ve always been a mountain girl and swimming is just another summer activity for me. However, one of my earliest memories is of my dad teaching me how to swim and dive, promising me he wouldn’t let go. I’m always impressed by my mother’s transformation each time she swims. No matter her mood, swimming makes her laugh like a teenage girl. The Lido is a book that pays homage to the ties that hold a community together, a source of hope and change through companionship and understanding.
The lido in Brixton is in danger. Kate, a young reporter who feels the need to shut herself from the world, meets Rosemary, an elderly woman who is the heart and soul of the lido. Together they start a crusade against the greed and incessant urge for more concrete and a course between a newfound desire to belong.
Instead of tiring you with my blabbering, I will tell you that I adored The Lido. Yes, it can be considered ‘’light’’ but this adjective is too simplistic. This isn’t a lighthearted, joyful, naive story but an excellent novel about two women separated by age but united by the same dreams and intentions. Page writes quietly, with a fresh, contemporary view without cheapening her material, paying careful attention to the prose and the dialogue. The first chapters are excellent in drawing the attention of the reader. The descriptions of Brixton are brilliant. I could feel as if I were there, walking in the streets, looking at familiar faces.
Libby Page builds the story around the sad fact that the lido has survived war and riots but it cannot survive the signs of the times. However, there are many who refuse to give up. Page excels in giving us beautiful snippets of the swimmers’ lives that depict the vibe of the community. I loved the relationship between two sisters who support and love each other. The bonding of Kate and Rosemary free from the focus on the generation gap. There is no dysfunctional relationship in sight, a feature that has become so fashionable of late. Page also decides to include the issue of panic attacks and she writes with sensitivity and respect. The dialogue flows and the two main characters are beautifully constructed.
I cannot see who wouldn’t love this beautiful story of second chances and the fight for ideals that are being wiped away by money. If only ‘’light’’ Contemporary Literature were so poignant and respectful towards the readers. It goes without question that Libby Page is definitely a writer to watch.
‘’There are so many things that seem not to matter. We live with them and we walk past them and we think it’ll be OK or it doesn’t matter or that’s just that then. Cities change and property companies buy out communities to build more million-pound flats, and it doesn’t matter. But then one day you wake up and realise actually it does matter.’’
Many thanks to Orion and NetGalley for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.