Wednesday, August 1, 2018

"The Lido"

Libby Page graduated from The London College of Fashion with a BA in fashion journalism before going on to work as a journalist at The Guardian. After writing, her second passion is outdoor swimming. She lives in London, where she enjoys finding new swimming spots and pockets of community within the city.

Page applied the Page 69 Test to The Lido, her first novel, and reported the following:
From page 69:
“So how are you finding it?” says Rosemary. “Have you gotten used to the cold yet?”

“It’s strange, I know, but I quite like the cold,” says Kate. “It wakes me up.”

“Why do you think I come in the mornings?”

They both laugh.

“I think I’m starting to understand it,” says Kate, looking around her. Her heart beats fast but she feels calm. “Why you love it here so much, I mean,” she says.

“There’s nowhere like it,” Rosemary replies, leaning back a little farther until her toes poke out of the surface of the water.

Kate watches her, this old woman in her navy swimsuit who has swum here all her life. She imagines what it might feel like to see your city changing around you like that and to lose the place that feels like home. As she thinks it she is reminded of her conversation with Erin, and how she had listened to her sister tell her things weren’t perfect, and she herself had said nothing – done nothing.

“You really want to save it, don’t you?” Kate saves after a moment.

“Oh, I do.”

“Maybe I can help you.”

As soon as she says it she realizes that, without knowing exactly how or why, this is something she needs to do. She needs to help Rosemary Peterson save her lido.

Rosemary looks at her for a moment, the wary expression that Kate had noticed the first time they met returning for a moment. But then she smiles.

“Okay then,” says Rosemary.

“Okay then,” says Kate.”
My novel, The Lido, is about the unlikely friendship between 86-year old widow Rosemary, and 26-year old journalist Kate as they come together to try and save their local outdoor swimming pool (or ‘lido’). It is about the importance of community and fighting for the places we love.

Page 69 is actually a very significant page in the book as it is the moment when Kate agrees to help Rosemary, and the campaign to try and save the lido is born.

When Kate and Rosemary first meet, Kate is a very anxious, lonely reporter who has been assigned the story of the potential lido closure by the newspaper where she works. Rosemary is a loyal swimmer who has frequented the lido her whole life. It’s where many of her memories, particularly of her beloved husband George, played out, and has a huge role in her life. Kate is not a swimmer – in fact she isn’t much of a ‘do-er’ at all because of the panic attacks that control much of her life. But when she interviews Rosemary for the newspaper, the older woman encourages her to get into the water herself.

Kate slowly comes to experience the invigorating benefits of cold water swimming, and of spending time at the lido. In this scene, Rosemary and Kate have spotted each other one morning in the shallow end of the pool. Kate suddenly realises that perhaps just writing about the closure of the lido isn’t enough – maybe there is more she can do. So starts an important journey for both Kate, Rosemary, and the lido.
Visit Libby Page's website.

Writers Read: Libby Page.

--Marshal Zeringue