BOOK REVIEW: LIBBY PAGE – THE LIDO

*Just a little note, this review may contain some spoilers*

This is a book that’s going to be the book of the summer. The book you take on holiday with you. The book you read by the pool. The book that you pick up at the airport before you jet off. The book that you will (or probably are already) hearing your friends talk about non-stop. Or, it could be the book you read at the lido.

This book is the debut that everyone is talking about the moment. This is what the blurb writes:

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, to show the importance of friendship, the value of community, and how ordinary people can protect the things they love.

I loved this book and ordered a copy as soon as possible and I read this book in three days, mostly because I was full of flu so I grabbed my Lucozade, chocolate and stayed in bed for a few hours coughing and sneezing and lost in the world of The Lido. Page’s writing is beautiful – from the first sentence of the book you are drawn into this world of the story and it’s characters. You can see yourself walking out of Brixton station and seeing and smelling everything around you. And this carries throughout the book, you are drawn into this world. You feel part of the community.

I’ve never been at a lido in my life. I’ve never known one to be in my local area so I didn’t get the book for nostalgia or reminiscing about my local lido. I’m not even a swimmer, can’t swim, even. But of course that doesn’t matter. It’s more about the literal lido – it’s the community, the themes of friendship between the characters of Kate and Rosemary. What I loved about the book, especially early on, is that we have these small insights into these other characters who attend the lido: Ahmed, the teenage boy escaping and diving into the water, the pregnant woman, Frank and Jermaine, Hope, even the fox. I loved this because it wasn’t just about Rosemary, or Kate, or both of them. The lido is the whole community. It is the centre of that community. My personal favourite was Frank and Jermaine and the book shop. I love an old fashioned book shop and I was lost in that shop, just like Kate. I enjoyed reading the relationship between Frank and Jermaine and the struggles of his mother not accepting his sexuality. As said, the voices of the people in the community really gave the book that community feel.

There was a great fondness in the writing of Rosemary’s relationship with George. Their relationship was just beautiful and couldn’t help but put a smile on my face. You could see how much they loved each other. I thought it was a lovely parallel between them and Kate/Jay when they were at the lido during the sit-in protest. It shows the lido being the centre of relationships, generations apart.

I really enjoyed the exploration of Kate and her loneliness – something that is a lot in books these days. It’s refreshing and important to read about loneliness affecting young people and not just older people. The writing of Kate and her insecurities was very well written and explored in a realistic and truthful way.

As said previously, this book is a very accomplished debut with beautiful writing that transports you into the world. There were lovely quotes that made me smile and took photo’s of them so I wouldn’t forget them. I especially loved this one, from Rosemary:

‘Never be sorry’, she says, a storm in her eyes. ‘Never be sorry for feeling. Never be sorry for falling in love. I was never sorry. Not for a single day.’

This is a book that’s already been talking and a huge hit with readers alike. It’s a beautiful exploration of friendship and the sense of community. It shows that loneliness isn’t just affecting the elderly and that to live your life to the full.

If you haven’t read this book, I’m sure you will love it and dive in to the story and fall in love with Rosemary and Kate. It’s a beautiful story. Like I said, I can’t swim but I drowned in this story and these words with these beautiful characters.

Have you read The Lido yet? What did you think? Let me know in the comments!

Thank you,

Corey.

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