So, I kept stumbling across amazing ARC reviews for The Lido Girls by Allie Burns and I eventually caved in and requested the book on Net Galley. Well, cue the 5 minutes after it’s been downloaded to my kindle when I say to myself ‘oh, I’ll just read the first chapter to get a feel for it’ and then BAM! Suddenly it’s 1:00 AM and my kindle is running out of battery at 90% read…
Title: The Lido Girls
Author: Allie Burns
Publisher: HQ Digital
Expected Publication Date: October 2, 2017
Genre: Fiction, Literary Fiction, Women’s Fiction, Historical Fiction
Themes: Independence, Self Discovery, Romance
Features: Recommended Reading, Book Club Reading Guide
My Rating: 5/ 5
Escape to the inter-war years in this emotional story where opportunity can be found at the pool-side in your local lido…
Change is in the air…
Natalie Flacker is tempted by the glamour of the new keep fit movement, but when she is dismissed from her prestigious job in PE she loses the life she so carefully built. Echoes of the war’s destruction still reverberate through her life, and now she is homeless, jobless and without prospects.
But connections made on a summer holiday, with her best friend Delphi, create opportunities. When Natalie is offered a summer job at a lido at the seaside, she jumps at the chance. But is she up to the challenge of taking on a group of unfit women in need of her help?
Set against the backdrop of the beginnings of the pioneering keep fit movement; this is a feel-good reminder of just what’s possible when you find the courage to follow your heart.
Spend a very British summer with The Lido Girls!
I don’t know what I was expecting when I picked this baby up, but I really wasn’t expecting to get so wrapped up in this book and so quickly. It had everything that I look for in women’s fiction – strong female characters that buck-up against societal expectations, a fantastically whimsical historical setting, amazing fashion, and a healthy dose of drama. Now add in the Women’s League of Health & Beauty and this fitness nut was absolutely hooked. It was amazing!
It’s clear that every inch of detail is well researched from the costumes to the language and phrasing, and from the diving to the roles and restrictions on women in the inter-war years. I really appreciated the inclusion of sources and recommended reading, not just because my librarian self loves seeing sources cited, but because it always lends a sense of realness and historical grounding. I know that not everyone reads the notes and extras included in the back of a book, but I really appreciate when these types of things are included for those that wish to know more about certain historical periods, events, and persons as they are always a fantastic jumping-in point for further exploration.
Now, on to the characters. I love Natalie and Delphi, and think that they make a fantastic pair when it comes to carrying a story. Their understanding of one another, as well as their unwavering loyalty in spite of circumstances, is something that I found really touching. I love that neither is perfect, that they make mistakes, and that at times they are their own worst enemies. And better yet? I love that they both get their happy ending without having to be ‘rescued’ by a man! I call for more women’s lit like this! Don’t get me wrong, a steamy little romance and the finding of true love is certainly an enjoyable staple in a great many books, but I prefer when happiness is found within the self and not through attachment to another.
I really enjoyed the gritty exploration of the issues during this time. It’s clear that it wasn’t easy for anyone between the wars. Money was tight, the landscape of working society shifted dramatically as women were needed to fill positions while the men were away (and many loved this taste of new-found freedom) and then were made redundant once again when they return, those men that did return from the war carried inexplicable damage, and then add in the recession, the loss of families and loved ones, and another looming war and you pretty much have the perfect storm. All of this was packed into The Lido Girls, and yet it never managed to feel overwhelming.
Would I recommend this book? Oh hell yes! I could keep going on about it for ages it’s so amazing! I’m sitting here hoping that the beautifully open ending has left it open to a sequel, and one that would be set in Canada to boot! And let’s not forget to mention that little ‘times are changing’ blurb on the front cover, hello, still relevant! I love, love, loved this book – so don’t let the summer read recommendation limit the season in which you pick this baby up.