Popsugar Reading Challenge 2023 Prompt #4

To be honest, I can’t believe I haven’t read The Lido by Libby Page before now. A colleague recommended it, so I grabbed a copy in a book swap.

What it’s about?

A tender, joyous debut novel about a cub reporter and her eighty-six-year-old subject—and the unlikely and life-changing friendship that develops between them.

Kate is a twenty-six-year-old riddled with anxiety and panic attacks who works for a local paper in Brixton, London, covering forgettably small stories. When she’s assigned to write about the closing of the local lido (an outdoor pool and recreation center), she meets Rosemary, an eighty-six-year-old widow who has swum at the lido daily since it opened its doors when she was a child. It was here Rosemary fell in love with her husband, George; here that she’s found communion during her marriage and since George’s death. The lido has been a cornerstone in nearly every part of Rosemary’s life.

But when a local developer attempts to buy the lido for a posh new apartment complex, Rosemary’s fond memories and sense of community are under threat.

As Kate dives deeper into the lido’s history—with the help of a charming photographer—she pieces together a portrait of the pool, and a portrait of a singular woman, Rosemary. What begins as a simple local interest story for Kate soon blossoms into a beautiful friendship that provides sustenance to both women as they galvanize the community to fight the lido’s closure. Meanwhile, Rosemary slowly, finally, begins to open up to Kate, transforming them both in ways they never knew possible.

In the tradition of Fredrik Backman, The Lido is a charming, feel-good novel that captures the heart and spirit of a community across generations—an irresistible tale of love, loss, aging, and friendship.

What I think:

This book was so wonderful.

There were moments when I genuinely laughed out loud and grinned like a Cheshire cat, and moments where I sobbed!

I loved everything and every character.

Kate is so relatable. She has moved to London, shares a house with people she never spends and time with, and finds herself increasingly lonely and isolated. Suffering from anxiety and panic attacks, her life is small, and she is increasingly sad.

Meeting Rosemary is a real turning point for her. As Kate covers the story of the Lido and spends more time with Rosemary, she becomes more invested in the community and the lives of the local people for whom the pool is so important.

Kate even finds the courage to try swimming even though it brings out all of her anxieties.

There is so much love in this book. George and Rosemary’s love story is simply beautiful. Their whole lives have been filled with love and genuine friendship even though they faced their fair share of heartache and sadness.

The friendship between Kate and Rosemary builds slowly as they realise that despite their very different lives, they have lots in common.

The battle to save the Lido brings the community together in unexpected ways. People who feel they have not had a voice connect with each other.

This book really highlights the importance of local services in building communities. The connections and friendships built there are essential for people’s mental health and well-being. The friendships made by Kate and the community that Rosemary brings together will last beyond the book.

Libby Page has just announced a sequel, The Lifeline, which is due to be published in April 2024. I will definitely be preordering!

This was 100% a five star read! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

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