The Lido by Libby Page

the lido

“The sky stretches above her and for a moment she feels completely free. She rolls onto her back and tries backstroke so she can watch the birds crossing back and forth and the spring buds waving on the arms of the trees around the lido building. She stops swimming for a moment and floats; for the first time in a long time she lets herself relax. The water holds her. She breathes deeply, the water lapping at her cheeks. She feels almost like she might cry but it’s OK.”

I’ll be honest: this book was an unexpected Christmas gift from my sister-in-law – I set her the challenge of finding me a feminist fictional book. 

And let me tell you, she did not disappoint.

I didn’t know what to expect when I saw the cover of The Lido. I’ve never been into swimming, and, in all honesty, thought that it looked like a book that I’d more likely enjoy in four decades’ time.

How wrong I was.

I accidentally blitzed through this book in one sitting over the summer, devouring the 376 pages and the additional Q&A with the author, Libby Page, at the end of the book.

From her beautifully immersive writing style, it’s hard to believe that this is Libby Page’s first foray into novel-writing.

The Lido follows the story of Kate, a twenty-something, anxiety-prone journalist searching for the story, and Rosemary, a worldly-wise 86-year-old whose passion is swimming in the local lido, and their unlikely friendship.

Strangely enough, as I come to write about the plot of the book, I realise it can easily be summed up in just a sentence, but it’s not about the plot.

It’s about the warmth and sheer beauty of the kinship between Kate and Rosemary – a friendship with no ulterior motives, no fear, just honesty and connection.

I wasn’t expecting to feel so much for these characters, but Libby’s style of writing simply pulled me in and wrapped me up in their lives.

Within a few pages, somehow, I was hooked.

And I have no shame at all in revealing that I cried at the end – genuine tears of sorrow for a fictional character I’ll never meet.

If you’re a keen writer looking for inspiration to write your own story, or you simply want a heartwarming, beautifully-written book to enjoy, buy this book.

The Lido is available on Bookshop.org from October Books and at all good bookstores.

★★★★★

October Books Southampton

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