Debut author Libby Page comes to the blog today with a story about an unlikely friendship and the growth and healing it brings to both sides. Please read on for my review of
Kate is a 20-something reporter for a Brixton newspaper, writing stories that are best described as cage-liners, as her dreams of journalistic acclaim are buried beneath a less than glamorous life, panic attacks and her inability to truly get out and live because of her anxieties. Someone who is very much in her own head, and far too concerned with why she can’t do something, than allowing the obstacles to pop up if they decide to, she felt very constrained and constricted. But, when she’s assigned the story about the closing of the Lido, as with all she tackles, she’s determined to give it her best shot. Rosemary has been swimming at the Lido since she was 6, some eighty years now. A source of memories, struggles and even housing her ‘younger self’, Rosemary losing the Lido would be as traumatic as her losing her George, her partner for years.
So – if this were a review of the premise alone: the story would be a winner. It’s sweet, with Rosemary showing (by example and simple supportive comments) Kate how to step forward confidently, and to stop thinking of herself in every situation, rather move into the situation to see what or how you manage it. The gradual growth of Kate does come through, as does the curious view that Rosemary has of herself – almost fractured into the younger one, swimming before heading off to work, dating a younger George, pre-wrinkles and the slower, perhaps even more fragile older woman. Unfortunately, this review can’t be about the premise – and the writing and plotting also have to be commented upon.
I believe that Page had a concept that, while lovely, was far above her own capabilities at this time. Prose went from clunky and overly descriptive to swinging for ‘sharp and of the moment’ and missing more often than not. There was a decided sense that meandering about until an issue popped up and could be sorted: making much of the story move without real purpose to an end that, to be honest, was nothing new or different. That in and of itself isn’t a bad thing, where the story fell short was in the pat ending combined with characters that also were familiar and didn’t present any spark of light that made them new and different. Add to this several passages that served neither the story nor the characters, often wordy and ponderous and the lack of appropriate editing shines like a beacon. Funnily enough, even with all of the misses, the lack of decided and defined purposeful writing and even a more often frustrating than likable Kate, I didn’t hate the story – as the intention of a friendship that spans generations and gives support and help to both parties was clear. It just wasn’t enough for me to recommend this book, although I think that with time and some consistent work on the craft of novel writing, Page will have some wonderful stories to tell.
Title: The Lido
Author: Libby Page
Genre: Contemporary Woman's Fiction, Setting: Britain
Published by: Orion
Published on: 10 July, 2018
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
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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.
A copy of this title was provided via Publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.