One of the advanced categories on my 2018 Reading Challenge was a book by someone with the same first or last name as you. I then saw this debut novel reviewed (I suspect in Red Magazine, that’s where I get a lot of my book recommendations from) and finally saw I could get an advance review copy from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review – it seemed so serendipitous that I had to read it!!
Here’s the blurb:
“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 has 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, and to prove that the pool is more than just a place to swim – it is the heart of the community.
The Lido is an uplifting novel about the importance of friendship, the value of community, and how ordinary people can protect the things they love.”
It is such a really lovely book. You are rooting for Kate from the start – she reminds me, in some ways, of Eleanor Oliphant – in the debut novel hit of 2017 ‘Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine’. A loaner who struggles a bit with other people and who comes out of her shell as the book progresses.
Rosemary is similar in age to my Grandmother and honorary Grandmother – and reminded me in particular of my honorary Grandma – who despite being in her very late 80s is up for anything! This photo of Grandma on holiday in a pool with a beer would be very ‘Rosemary’ too!
The book also looks back over the life and marriage of Rosemary and her husband George – it is such a fond and loving partnership that endured many many years – just like honorary Grandma and Grandad.
The main storyline of the book is the proposed closure of the lido in a Brixton Park by evil property developers (I say that with tongue firmly in cheek as it’s a hat I also wear when not reading books!!) but the relationships between the various characters and the community of Brixton really fills the story out. The descriptions of Brixton – both the urban areas – but also the parks – are really evocative, even though it’s not a place I know at all.
I enjoyed the interaction between all of the different characters – but it’s the relationship between Kate and Rosemary that is vital to the story – and life changing for both people. I can see how it could happen in real life too.
The community spirit was fabulous – and reminded me of the village where I live – not a suburb of London, but still with a wide cross section of people who often all pull together for local causes.
Kate’s relationships not just with Rosemary but with her sister, housemates, parents, colleagues are all explored – it’s so lovely seeing Kate blossom.
The ending was great – not exactly what I would have predicted either, which is always a bonus, and had me weeping (which isn’t difficult to be fair!!)
Overall this is a beautifully written book, which is an easy and enjoyable read – perfect for whilst lounging round a lido this summer maybe?!?