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 had 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.
The Lido is a charming, feel-good novel that deals with many topics that are very relevant in 2019 but author Libby Page played it too safe.
The story follows journalist Kate, 26, and Rosemary, 86, on a journey to save their local lido in Brixton. They spark an unusual friendship, filled with wit and warmth.
Kate struggles to find her feet as a newly employed journalist, while battling anxiety and loneliness in a new city. Rosemary is still trying to cope with the death of her husband.
The book was very optimistic and fluffy with a big emphasis on the importance of community spirit. The characters were very diverse in gender, race and age. The best bit about the book was the setting and the cute story about Rosemary and her late husband’s connection to the outdoor pool.
Some of the authors descriptions of mental health and anxiety were very realistic. Rosemary had some of the best lines in the novel, as Page wrote: “Love is love,’ says Rosemary. ‘Just like a tree is a tree. It can be a sapling or a hundred -year-old oak, but it still has roots and life and is at the mercy of the seasons.”
But there were unfortunately a few disappointing elements to the book. The author decided to fleet back and forth between second and third person narratives, which at times was confusing. There were random parts devoted entirely to descriptions of a fox and even a pregnant woman sat around the swimming pool. These characters were never a part of the story, only for that one chapter where none of the main characters were present.
There was not much depth to the characters and the story was very predictable from the very beginning. The characters were overly friendly, almost flawless, which is far from realistic, especially in the media industry. The only “mean” character was Kate’s editor who did not come across as a bad person, just a little bit grumpy.
Then there was her strange romantic relationship with the photographer in the office, which seemed rushed and completely random. This sub-plot was a missed opportunity that could have been developed into a bigger part of the story.
Many of the issues discussed in the book such as the difficulties facing journalism at the present time could have been made clearer and far more interesting. But the author decided to go for an unrealistic fairytale story, with the main character lacking in motivation and spark for her career but becoming quite successful. Kate spent her first year or so in the job writing about lost cats.
It was written as if the author had zero experience in journalism which is a shame since she worked for The Guardian. One of the oddest parts about it was the fact that there only seemed to be Kate, the editor and the photographer working in the office, which seemed implausible considering Kate’s stories rarely made it to the front page of the newspaper and there was no indication that others worked there too.
Although there are downsides to The Lido it might be your cup of tea and could make a quick holiday read, if you are able to ignore its flaws. It is one of those books for someone looking for something to lift their spirits, rather than a story to enlighten and engage the mind. The ideas for the novel were great but Page didn’t take any risks and could have done much more with them.
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