#BlogTour A Meeting of a Different Kind and The Alone Alternative by Linda MacDonald

Today it’s a double-whammy BlogTour featuring two books by Linda MacDonald. Both books are part of a multiple part series, this trilogy that tells the story of the friendship between Marianne and Edward. It starts with Meeting Lydia (click the link to read my review), then A Meeting of a Different Kind and ends with The Alone Alternative.

About the Author

Linda MacDonald is the author of four novels: Meeting Lydia and the stand-alone sequels, A Meeting of a Different KindThe 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.

Follow @LindaMac1 on Twitter or @LindaMacDonaldAuthor on Facebook, Follow @matadorbooks, Visit troubadorbooks.co.uk

Buy A Meeting of a Different Kind

Buy The Alone Alternative

About A Meeting of a Different Kind

When archaeologist Edward Harvey’s wife Felicity inherits almost a million, she gives up her job, buys a restaurant and, as a devotee of Hugh Fernley-Whittingstall, starts turning their home into a small eco-farm. Edward is not happy, not least because she seems to be losing interest in him. Taryn is a borderline manic-depressive, a scheming minx, a seductress and user of men. Edward and Taryn don’t know each other but they both know Marianne. To Edward, Marianne is a former classmate who sends him crazy emails. She is Taryn’s best friend, and when Marianne meets Edward, she tells Taryn how wonderful he is and that he is not the philandering type.

Taryn sees a challenge and concocts a devious plan to meet him during a series of lectures he is giving at the British Museum. When Edward and Taryn’s paths cross, questions of friendship, loyalty and betrayal are played out against a backdrop of mental fragility and the destabilising effects of a large inheritance… Set in Broadclyst and Beckenham, with a chapter on the Isles of Scilly, A Meeting of a Different Kind is the stand-alone sequel to Meeting Lydia, continuing the story from the perspectives of two very different characters. Like its prequel, it will appeal to fans of adult fiction, especially those interested in the psychology of relationships.

Review: A Meeting of a Different Kind

This really is Edward’s story and his view on his relationships with Marianne and Felicity. Marianne takes a bit of a secondary role in this second part in the Lydia series.

I find Edward very selfish and self-obsessed. He thinks the world should revolve around him, which explains why he is so surprised when his wife Felicity starts new business ventures without consulting him. Keeping in mind what happened in Meeting Lydia, it is no wonder Felicity wants to redefine what’s important in her life.

It’s quite interesting that Felicity is written with a sympathetic vibe in Lydia book 1, in this book she is written as the assertive woman regaining control of her life and in the third book she is cold and calculating. Seen through Edward’s eyes, but it’s also intriguing how the writer changes the view and perspective on the character as time progresses.

Although Edward becomes closer to Marianne in this book, especially as he confides in her about the slow demise of his marriage, he makes a serious mistake. The kind of mistake that Marianne finds unforgivable, and she turns her back on Edward.

The relationship between the two of them isn’t just friendship, and regardless of whether both respective partners are aware of said relationship, it is still an emotional affair. The kind of relationship that is always tiptoeing on the precipice of a physical affair. This becomes really clear when Marianne reacts as if she has been betrayed like a wife or a girlfriend.

I really recommend picking up the first book in the series to understand the relationship between Edward, Marianne and their families, and the last book to see if they manage to pull themselves together and connect the way they want to.

This is a story full of complications and regrets, but that’s life isn’t it. In a way that is what the author wants to bring across, that real life can be painful, frustrating and overwrought with emotions.

About The Alone Alternative

Former classmates Edward and Marianne, now fifty-five, have experienced a turbulent few years having lost contact with each other and suffered painful disruption to their home lives. Reunited again, this time through Twitter, they set about a search for personal fulfilment, but once again there are obstacles in the way – not least in the form of twice-widowed Jessica, Edward’s neighbour, who threatens to destroy their pursuit of happiness and whose behaviour has alarming consequences.

The extraordinary weather conditions prompt Edward and a former colleague to resurrect an idea for a documentary series that sets to challenge consumerist lifestyles. The Isles of Scilly become a model for sustainability and a filming trip to the islands provides an idyllic backdrop to the unfolding romantic tensions.

Set in 2012, the year of the London Olympics, the action alternates between Broadclyst and Beckenham and examines the difficult issues faced in committing to a new relationship in midlife. Could being alone be a preferable alternative?

Continuing themes of psychology, relationships and environmental sustainability, The Alone Alternative is the sequel to A Meeting of a Different Kind and the third and final part of the ‘Lydia’ series. Written from both male and female perspectives, it also stands alone as a fascinating read for both men and women who enjoy thought-provoking fiction, keeping readers guessing until the very end.

Review: The Alone Alternative

This is the third and final part of Marianne and Edward’s story, both of them are moving into new parts of their lives. Marianne is now a widow and Edward has been left to his own devices, as Felicity starts a new life with Gianni the chef.

Edward decides to try and reconnect with Marianne, despite cutting her off bluntly many years ago. He hopes to be able to pick up where they left off, which is quite normal for Edward. He spends so much time thinking about himself and how he can achieve the ultimate happiness that the women in his life often only have a secondary role.

I have to get something off my chest. I really dislike the way Edward and his family refer to Marianne as his Fangirl. It’s demeaning and a proverbial urine take, which Edward is happy to go along with. Marianne is supposed to be a great friend, a kindred spirit and someone who he can confide in. Suggesting she is nothing but a groupie does her a disservice. It relegates her career, intelligence and the relationship between them to something akin to one person idolising another. Oh herald the great man walking among us.

In this story the paths of Marianne and Edward appear to be about to come together as one at last, but of course it is never quite plain sailing for the two of them. Edward evaluates each woman who crosses his path as a potential bed-bunny, some of his children are reluctant to give up on the idea of their nuclear family, and let’s not forget the crazy village stalker.

It’s an in-depth analysis of the love and friendship between Ed and Mari. A couple who have built a friendship over many years and never been in a position to take their relationship one step further.

One of the elements I have always enjoyed about this series is the age-range of the characters. Looking at the lives of middle-aged, and older men and women, and acknowledging that love, lust and desire doesn’t just fade with age. Love, friendship and desire isn’t just for the young. It’s a multi-layered story full of contradictions and emotional turmoil.

Buy A Meeting of a Different Kind at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Buy The Alone Alternative at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Matador

Read Meeting Lydia by Linda MacDonald

Read The Man in the Needlecord Jacket by Linda MacDonald

#BlogTour Meeting Lydia by Linda MacDonald

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.

Follow @LindaMac1 @MatadorBooks #MeetingLydia

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 …

Review

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.

Buy Meeting Lydia at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Buy Paperback version

Read my review of The Man in the Needlecord Jacket by Linda MacDonald

#BlogTour The Man in the Needlecord Jacket by Linda MacDonald

Today I am delighted to be taking part in the BlogTour for The Man in the Needlecord Jacket by Linda MacDonald. I admire her tenacity and audacity when it comes to the topics she has approached in this book.

About the Author

Linda MacDonald was born and brought up in Cockermouth, Cumbria. She was educated at the local grammar school and later at Goldsmiths’, University of London where she studied for a BA in psychology and then a PGCE in biology and science. She taught in a secondary school in Croydon for eleven years before taking some time out to write and paint. In 1990 she returned to teaching at a sixth form college in south-east London where she taught psychology. For over twenty-five years she was also a visiting tutor in the psychology department at Goldsmiths’. She has now given up teaching to focus fully on writing.

Her four published novels Meeting Lydia, A Meeting of a Different Kind, The Alone Alternative and The Man in the Needlecord Jacket can each be read independently but are also a series. A fifth part is at the embryonic stage.

Follow @LindaMac1 on Twitter #Needlecordjacket #RandomThingsTours or @LindaMacDonaldAuthor on Facebook

Follow @matadorbooks

Visit troubadorbooks.co.uk

Buy The Man in the Needlecord Jacket

About the Book

The Man in the Needlecord Jacket follows the story of two women who are each struggling to let go of a long-term destructive partnership. Felicity is reluctant to detach from her estranged archaeologist husband and, after being banished from the family home, she sets out to test the stability of his relationship with his new love, Marianne.

When Felicity meets Coll, a charismatic artist, she has high hopes of being distracted from her failed marriage. What she doesn’t know is that he has a partner, Sarah, with whom he has planned a future. Sarah is deeply in love with Coll, but his controlling behaviour and associations with other women have always made her life difficult. When he becomes obsessed with Felicity, Sarah’s world collapses and a series of events is set in motion that will challenge the integrity of all the characters involved.

The Man in the Needlecord Jacket is a thought-provoking book, written from the perspectives of Sarah and Felicity. The reader is in the privileged position of knowing what’s going on for both of the women, while each of them is being kept in the dark about a very important issue.

Inspired by the work of Margaret Atwood and Fay Weldon, Linda explores the issue of mental abuse in partnerships and the grey area of an infidelity that is emotional, not physical. The book will appeal to readers interested in the psychology of relationships, as well as fans of Linda’s ‘Lydia’ series.

Review

First and foremost I have to congratulate the author on her characters, to be more specific the age range she picked for her characters. There is a tendency in all fiction to choose the handsome young man and the young nubile woman, perhaps more so the latter. MacDonald has chosen two middle-aged women, Felicity and Sarah, and their prospective partners for this particularly realistic venture into women’s fiction.

The reader follows the lives of both Felicity and Sarah as they become linked via a charming man called Coll. Sarah is Coll’s girlfriend and Felicity is his new obsession.

This story is about the way women of a certain age are perceived by society, and the way they feel about it. Their youth is a fond memory of forbidden pleasures, spontaneity and a time when middle-age was merely a blip on the future horizon.

There is a general misconception about age changing the wants, needs and desires of people. This misconception is shared and believed by younger generations. They are often horrified, sometimes amused, by the fact both women and men still want physical intimacy when they hit middle-age or pension-age. The real question is, why shouldn’t they want that?

Sarah and Coll have a relationship, which I would deem on the abusive side. Anyone who insults you, degrades you and makes you feel insecure, and invalid on a regular basis, is guilty of verbal and emotional abuse. Coll is a classic manipulator. He likes to control the narrative, especially when it comes to his own needs. His own insecurities are projected onto Sarah in a way that makes it appear as if she is to blame. Again this is a classic scenario of control. Over lengthy periods of time abuse victims begin to believe the false narrative and live up to it, which is a typical self-fulfilling prophecy setting. The victim often doesn’t identify this behaviour as abuse.

One of the elements of this story I was really interested in was the use, lack of or withdrawal of intimacy as a tool of power and manipulation. The reader can actually see how Sarah rationalizes his actions as the story unfolds.

Felicity is actually more self-aware, however she is still suffering the consequences of her mid-life crisis. Yes, women have them too. She is honest about what she needs and what her body needs. Her attempt to re-establish her old life creates discord between her children and her soon to be ex-husband. Felicity wants her old life back and yet at the same time she wants to walk upon a different path entirely.

MacDonald strips away any kind of illusion or semblance of hope that the middle stage of life gets any easier when it comes to love, relationships and life in general. It is probably just a tad more difficult, because physical appearance and health tends to decline.

The Man in the Needlecord Jacket is a subtle reminder that women should champion other women instead of breaking them down. It is also a strong statement about the emotional destruction an abusive relationship can cause, especially when the abuse is often a non-visible one, as opposed to a visible physical one. The book also takes the bull called infidelity by the horns and treats it to a violent ride of culpability. The kind of ride you don’t want to miss.

Buy The Man in the Needlecord Jacket at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.