What I Thought:
What a joy of a book this is. A book with many themes and all so impactful that after only a few chapters I was already googling outdoor swimming in my area, so keen was I to feel that first icy bite.
Kate is 26 and living a life of loneliness in Brixton, having moved there for work and knowing nobody. She exists on ready meals and spends her evenings alone in her bedroom. Also in Brixton, is 86 year old Rosemary who has lived there all her life. Rosemary has lead a wonderful life, married to the love of her life, George, for over 60 years until his recent passing. Her time is spent swimming in the Lido and occasional tea and cake with friends. That is until the Lido is threatened with closure and Kate and Rosemary find their paths crossing, leading to a friendship that neither of them saw coming.
Kate and Rosemary are both fantastically well-fleshed out characters. Loneliness is a big theme in The Lido as both women are lonely in their own ways and this feeling was palpable through the pages. There was a lot about this book that resonated with me: It is certainly true that you can feel lonely in a crowd. I, like Kate, have moved to new areas, only in my case many times. Starting fresh in a new town or city for work is both exciting and daunting and despite making friends easily at work, I found myself on occasion lonely for company and it can be incredibly debilitating. Libby Page manages to create very relatable characters who are easy to empathise with and easy to invest in emotionally.
The Lido is an uplifting, gem of a novel. With an abundance of character who fizz off the pages and a plight and a goal to root for, I enjoyed every second of this book. Be prepared to laugh and to cry (i.e. big, fat, noisy tears) but to come away feeling uplifted.
I was asked to talk about my own Rosemary for this book tour and while there were a few contenders, I chose my late Grandmother, Lily, whose story and courage I have always admired. Born in 1908, my Grandma left home at 17, to become a Nurse, all against the wishes of her parents who owned shops and later a farm and wanted her to continue in the family business. She wanted to become a Nurse so badly that she lied about her age, telling the college she was 18. Over the years, she rose through the ranks, becoming both a midwife and a District Nurse. She met my Grandad, Harry, in her early 20’s but didn’t marry him until years later as in those days, women had to give up their careers when they got married. Despite being written out of her parents’ will, she stuck to her guns and pursued the career she wanted. I used to love hearing these stories when I was little – she was such an independent woman way ahead of her time and stuck to her principles despite being disinherited (actually, that’s not quite true – her parents left her a tea-towel in their will!). My Grandmother went on to have three children (two in her late 20’s when she finally married my Grandad) and then my Mum when she was almost 40 (very late in those days). She also drove a moped (which she crashed and was in a coma for a while and then got back on again when she was back on her feet). Lily passed away in 1996 but we still talk about her a lot – she was feisty and said what she thought but she was also loving and kind. I’m really proud of telling this story as I think she was truly inspirational. And she would have been straight down to that Lido, waving banners and holding placards!!
NB/ I was sent a copy of this book in return for an honest review by Orion and I was delighted to be asked to take part in the blog tour for this wonderful book. Please do also check out the other reviews that have already been posted and the ones scheduled for the next few days.