Whenever I read a book I think about where its next home will be. Which friend would like it? Will it be donated to the charity shop (often from where it came in the first place)? Is it one of the rare volumes that I want to keep, that merits it keeping its place in my rainbow bookcase? Novels rarely do because I hardly ever re-read them again. Now I’ve just finished reading The Lido by Libby Page and have no doubt where it’s going. It’s definitely one that my mum, an avid reader, would like.
This is a gentle novel that describes an elderly woman’s relationship with her local South London lido throughout her lifespan. When it’s threatened with redevelopment as tennis courts for luxury housing she forms a friendship with a lonely young journalist from her local newspaper and instils in her a passion for cold water swimming. Together with their community they campaign to save the pool.
The name of the pool in the book rang a bell with me. ‘Isn’t there a Brockwell Lido in real life?’ I thought. There is but the story does not mirror the history of the real venue. However there are parallels. The real lido struggled with financial issues too. It actually closed for a time between 1990 and 1994. A campaign group fought for its re-opening. As in the novel local resident shared the meaning that the pool had for them. It re-opened when Paddy and Casey, a couple of council workers took over the lease for a peppercorn rent. Sponsorship money and a lottery grant boosted the coffers. Today it looks like the pool is a thriving local resource and is open all year round. There’s a real life story as well as the novel that warms the cockles of the heart!
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