The Lido – a novel about friendship, the joy of swimming outdoors and the changing face of Brixton

I was really looking forward to reading The Lido when I found out about it last year. It is set in Brixton where I live and features the Brockwell Lido, which is a beautiful outdoor swimming pool which I love. A place I hope to spend more time in now I am on maternity leave this summer (perhaps wishful thinking).

The book tells the story of Kate, a 26 year old, who is struggling to settle into London, who is living in a miserable flatshare. She is lonely and has a rather unsatisfactory job at a local paper.

Rosemary is 86 years old and mourning the death of her husband George. The book reflects on her war years, courtship and marriage with George. Rosemary is also lonely although far more connected to the local community, compared to Kate.  I really enjoyed the descriptions of cups of tea with her friend Hope in Brixton Village and shopping trips down Electric Avenue. Brixton is a really friendly place and Libby Page captures that feeling.

The Lido, Libby Page, Granville Arcade

Rosemary and Hope share cups of tea in Brixton Village, also known as Granville Arcade in the Lido.

However, there are some extremely sad scenes, which includes a heartbreaking scene when she revisits her husband George’s grocery store, now a hipster cocktail bar.

The local lido, where she swims every day, remains a constant reminder, Kate sees this is a chance for her to shine. Rosemary and Kate are thrown together and the story of their blossoming friendship is uplifting.

The Lido, Brockwell Lido, Brixton, The Lido, Libby Page

Beautiful Brockwell Lido, where a campaign to save the outdoor pool brings together Rosemary and Kate.

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.

With the battles over the Field Day festival in Brockwell Park this summer and the community battling against Lambeth Council to protect the beloved park, it is very relevant. It is also a beautiful portrayal of intergenerational friendship and a telling portrait of a young person feeling adrift in a large city.

I listened to Libby Page on BBC Radio Four’s Women’s Hour this week talking about uplifting fiction, alongside Gail Honeyman, who wrote ‘Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine’ and she said something that resonated with me. There is a lot of good in society and it was lovely to read a book that reflects that. It is a brilliant debut and I can’t wait to see what she writes next.

You can read more about Libby Page here and follow her on Twitter.