Meeting Lydia explores the very relevant topics of childhood bullying, midlife crises, the pros and cons of internet relationships, and how the psychological effects of these affect the main character and those around her. Readers will be gripped by the turbulent life of Marianne who navigates the onset of menopause, an empty nest, a suspected errant husband and a demanding new obsession that pulls her in deeper as the story unfolds. Those interested in the psychology of relationships will enjoy this novel, as well as those who delight in an enthralling story with relatable characters and the powerful question of what happens when the past catches up with the present. This second edition has reworked the early chapters of the first edition, making for a pacy and shorter version more in line with the audiobook.
Marianne comes home from work one day to find her husband talking to a glamorous woman in their kitchen. Old childhood insecurities resurface, stemming from a time back at school when she was bullied. Jealousy rears its head and her happy marriage begins to crumble. Desperate for a solution - and introduced by her daughter to social networking - she tries to track down her first schoolgirl crush, the enigmatic Edward Harvey. But Marianne is unprepared for the power of email relationships ...
Linda MacDonald is the author of four novels: Meeting Lydia and the stand-alone sequels, A Meeting of a Different Kind, The Alone Alternative and The Man in the Needlecord Jacket. All Linda's books are contemporary adult fiction, multi-themed, but with a focus on relationship issues.
After studying psychology at Goldsmiths', Linda trained as a secondary science and biology teacher. She taught these subjects for several years before moving to a sixth-form college to teach psychology. The first two novels took ten years in writing and publishing, using snatched moments in the evenings, weekends and holidays. In 2012, she gave up teaching to focus fully on writing.
Linda was born and brought up in Cockermouth, Cumbria and now lives in Beckenham in Kent.
I was given an ecopy of this book by the author to review as part of the blog tour for Meeting Lydia. This is something I am more than happy to do.
Meeting Lydia is a novel about relationships of every kind both real and imagined. This is another novel that highlights how the relationships we have in our childhood form the adults we become. They can give us the strength and confidence to grow and develop or they can inhibit us.
Marianne the leading character in this book was educated in a boys school - this was something I found very odd. I didn't even know this was possible. She stood out for many reasons, the obvious being she was a girl in a classroom of boys and she was also very clever. Both reasons to draw attention to herself at a time when children are developing and growing - learning the rules and boundaries of life. Reading about her childhood was difficult - I wanted to scoop her up and take her away.
Linda displays the hurt and childhood scars that have shaped Marianne. Thus highlighting how our childhood provides the foundations for us to grow into adults. Not everyone has a solid, safe, loving and caring upbringing. Some have a shakier start and it is past events that eventually cause the foundations of her adult life to crumble. Public schooling and bullying all too often, sadly, go hand in hand and this story tackles this issue head on. This book highlights some strong emotions - bitterness, hate, revenge and hurt go hand in hand with self loathing, guilt and remorse. Above all this story highlights how events in our childhood if not dealt with follow us into adulthood and can have a huge impact upon the adults we become. As an adult she has grown a carapace around herself and her memories are firmly hidden. She is successful, has a good job as a teacher, husband and daughter. That is until several things conspire to un-ravel her life and take her straight back to those tortured childhood days.
Meeting Lydia highlights how a couple of natural events in a mothers life can knock you off kilter more than just a little. Your daughter leaving home for uni, that feeling of being redundant and no longer needed is a feeling that I'm sure is shared by most mums world over. They're moving on and you don't really know what your role is anymore. Add to that the onset of the menopause, something we females all dread - the horror stories of friends and family - the slight madness it can bring and the fact that it is a subject most aren't comfortable talking about - it signifies an ending of sorts and the unease of the next chapter in your life.
Linda has written Marianne as a deeply complex character that doesn't have all the answers. Finding a gorgeous, mini skirt wearing blonde in her kitchen one afternoon is the catalyst to the events that follow. Johnny her husband is having an innocent coffee with a new colleague in his kitchen and has no idea that would alter his life as he knew it. He has no idea of the insecurities behind the everyday face of his wife. The intense intricacies of relationships - how the unspoken words can cause the most pain and anguish are highlighted in full colour for the reader to see.
When the tension rises Marianne who has been taught about Friends Reunited by her daughter retreats more and more into an on line world where she is fuelling her obsession with a classmate from her childhood. She wants to find a safe place, a place where she can hide again. He wasn't even her friend if the truth be told, he was just the boy that didn't join in and bully her. Johnny retreats to the pub as the spats increase he spends more and more time away from home - further fuelling Mariannes feelings of low self worth.
There is an intensity to Linda's writing that is palpable, neither partner speaking openly, both expecting the other to know all the words that only get spoken in each others heads, not saying them out loud because both afraid of the consequences - such seemingly insignificant small events have such a major impact on more than just their own lives. I was hovering over their lives wanting to shout instructions to them both - they were just too close to see the destruction they were wreaking.
A powerful piece of writing that had me turning the pages increasingly quicker to resolve their problems and restore harmony in their lives. Linda MacDonald is not an author I'd previously read but was drawn in by her beautiful jacket for Meeting Lydia and the blurb on the back. Relationships of any kind, husband-wife, parent-child, friendships and family are always thought provoking - I like to see into other peoples minds and look at how they tick. Thank you Anne for the opportunity to join the blog tour. I'm looking forward to reading the next instalment having thoroughly enjoyed Meeting Lydia.