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This is a feel good book!

The Lido - Clare Corbett, Libby Page

The Lido, A Novel, by Libby Page, narrator, Clare Corbett Rosemary and Kate became dear friends in this very human tale about very ordinary people. Separated in age by 6 decades, they still had common interests. Both were lonely and both had become loners. Both were swimmers, one for most of her life, and one had become newly attracted to it. Both of the women wanted to save the lido, the town pool, from its potential demise in a real estate deal. Kate, a journalist, is interviewing Rosemary about just what the lido means to her. It is the human story behind the pool, not the monetary one. To Rosemary, the pool was her life. Swimming made her feel young again, young, that is, until she climbed out of the pool and the pains in her knees returned. For Kate, it became the place where she relaxed and her panic attacks, which began when she moved away from her family, diminished. They enriched each other’s lives, blossomed and grew from their interaction with each other. With its fount of memories, the pool was a symbol that represented the entirety of life in the Brixton community. For each person who used the lido, it became a focal point in their lives, so when the possible sale and privatization of the lido became known, it touched a nerve in the community. Many were disappointed and saddened. It would be missed, but it needed someone to organize the effort to save it. When Rosemary stepped in to fill that gap, Kate joined her to prevent the ending of a way of life. Her journalism credentials lent credence and publicity to the effort. A way of life had already ended with the closing of the once loved library where Rosemary had worked for years, tending to the needs of children and adults. Rosemary was determined not to let the Lido go into the dust heap of history in the same way. Together, the two women mounted a counter effort to stop the sale of the pool. The pool was a gathering place. All and sundry found comfort in the community that they formed there as they once had in the library. Its possible loss renewed the community’s, sense of what was really most important, and that was not to increase the wealth of the real estate developers, but rather it was to maintain their community and its sense of camaraderie. They could work together to try and stop the inevitable march of what the greedy considered progress, even though they did not believe they would succeed in their heart of hearts. The novel feels more like a lovely fairytale than anything else. It is filled with romance, friendship, love, and kindness, as well as the ordinary day to day inconveniences of life as one grows up, but everything works out in the end, tied up neatly in a bow. For the reader, it is very satisfying, although a tear or two may be shed along the way. However, the end of the tale is inevitable and unavoidable; so while the story is about relationships and the true meaning of our own needs in life, it is also about the value of our memories and a purposeful life well lived, not necessarily one of wealth, but one that is filled with humanity, not greed. The community rallied around the cause of saving the pool because it meant so much to so many who had not realized it before. Although the asset value of the land became greater than its value as a pool, they had to find a way to thwart the profit motive that seemed to be motivating the sale. Yet they also had to save the pool from financial insolvency. The problem seemed insurmountable, but just as out of the ordinary relationships were formed, perhaps their David could defeat Goliath. A great variety of characters were presented in the course of the novel. Each distinctive personality was touched by Rosemary. She had been a force in the lives of many in the town in which she had lived and loved for her entire life. Often, she intuited their hopes and dreams and inspired them to accomplish them. The friendship between Kate and Rosemary enriched each of them and inspired both of them to grow and live their lives more fully. The pool symbolized friendship, romance, simplicity, compassion, and courage. It was a place for the community to come together. It was a place they took for granted, until there was the possibility of losing it and of losing what it meant to each of them touched by it. Little insights into innocent behavior was subtly revealed, as with the promise of not letting go when you are teaching someone to swim when of course you do let go; you must let go if the person is to learn. It is the same with teaching someone to ride a bike. You must let go if they are to truly learn how, although you do promise that you absolutely will not. The little white lie serves a unique and positive purpose. In the end, Rosemary, 86, teaches Kate, 26, how to be more comfortable in her own skin, and Kate teaches Rosemary how to live in hers, once again. The story is about how the change that inevitably comes to communities is not always good. Sometimes, maintaining the status quo is better. The novel is read superbly by Clare Corbett who does not insert herself into the narrative, but rather develops each of the characters with her portrayal of them.