I picked up The Lido by Libby Page with my birthday money last autumn and it’s taken me this long to get round to reading it. I wasn’t sure what it was about, but it was another one of those books I’d seen a lot on social media. Every time I posted my ‘to read’ pile on Instagram, people commented on what a good read it was.
I really shouldn’t have waited so long to read it.
The Lido is a beautiful, heartwarming read, which had me crying many, many times. It is a simple story of two women trying to save an outdoor swimming pool threatened with closure. Kate is 26 and a local journalist looking for a story to get her teeth into. Rosemary is 86 and has been swimming at the lido her whole life. A widow, the lido is full of memories of her beloved late husband, George. When Kate goes to interview Rosemary, an unlikely friendship is formed.
Kate is desperately lonely. She doesn’t speak to her housemates, lives on microwave meals and spends most of the time she isn’t at work in bed. In that sense, she reminds me a lot of Eleanor Oliphant, which is always a good comparison for any book or character. Kate suffers from panic attacks and is scared to get in touch with her own family because she can’t bear to admit to them that she is struggling with life in London. But swimming gives her a sense of calm and fighting to save the lido gives her a purpose in life – and friends.
Rosemary thinks her only friend is Hope, her old colleague from the library, but she’s forgotten about the lido staff, the man who runs the vegetable stall on the market and the couple who own the book shop. All of these wonderful characters, of different ages and backgrounds, come together to fit for the lido’s survival.
I really can’t recommend The Lido highly enough. It is a beautiful read about friendship, community and mental health. If you’re looking for a book to make you smile and make you cry, you need to check out The Lido.