Today it is my pleasure to take part in the BlogTour for Meeting Lydia by Linda MacDonald. Her books focus on relationships and the complexities of those relationships, as they change and evolve throughout time. The perception of each person is subjective and seen through their own frame of references, which is how MacDonald approaches each book.
About the Author
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.
About the book
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 …
To be frank, I found Marianne completely unlikeable, especially in the first few chapters. There is incessant complaining and blaming of others. As the story unfolds her inner turmoil becomes a lot clearer, and the reasons why she seems at the very least like a petty jealous fishwife. Then some of the interactions with her husband make it easier to understand her.
He is insulting and crosses boundaries with other women he wouldn’t allow his wife to cross. He makes her feel small, invalid and unloved. Simultaneously Marianne makes it hard to be liked. She finds it difficult to deal with natural hormonal changes. The sense of feeling bereft at no longer being able to conceive is replaced by confusion about the uncontrollable physical symptoms she experiences. Instead of seeking help or talking with someone, she withdraws even further into the confines of her own fears and insecurities.
Meeting Lydia deals with historic bullying, the symptoms of early and perimenopause, the way society treats women after they pass into the middle-age bracket, and ultimately the way our deepest desires and goals remain unfulfilled as life passes us by.
And this is the moment where, as a reader, especially as a woman, you have to take a step back and try to understand her thought processes. Why do women of a certain age become invisible to others? The loss of youth, the ageing process, and definitely when their roles as mothers have been fulfilled, they are no longer of any interest to potential love partners for instance. Unfortunately the younger generations of women are unable to see themselves fitting into the same category ( ahh the innocence of youth), and more often than not they become the adversary instead of the supporter.
As for men, well they expect a woman to stay the same throughout the decades, despite letting themselves go. A hypocritical attitude, but quite common. There is also a lack of understanding for the changes women go through, although admittedly women don’t understand them completely either.
Marianne seeks closure for events in the past and tries to come to terms with the new phases of her relationship and her age. She starts what could be perceived as an emotional online relationship, which helps her to work through all of the above. In a way it is a long one-sided therapy session, with the other person being completely unaware of the importance of the correspondence.
MacDonald always manages to hit on core emotional issues in her stories. They may be woven into the fabric of a fictional scenario, but it doesn’t make them any less realistic for readers. The charm of her particular style of storytelling is the way she combines everyday emotions, problems and inner dialogues with relatable characters. Her main character represents the unhappy, confused, unloved and dissatisfied woman that lives in the majority of women, it just surfaces more often in some of us. In an way it is actually Marianne meeting Marianne or the woman she is, as she goes forward.