- Paperback: 368 pages
- Publisher: Matador (1 Sep 2011)
- Language English
- ISBN-10: 1848767129
- ISBN-13: 978-1848767126
Synopsis from Troubadour Publishing Ltd:
Marianne Hayward, teacher of psychology and compulsive analyser of the human condition, is hormonally unhinged. The first seven years of her education were spent at a boys’ prep school, Brocklebank Hall, where she was relentlessly bullied. From the start, she was weak and frightened and easy prey for Barnaby Sproat and his gang. Only one boy was never horrible to her: the clever and enigmatic Edward Harvey, on whom she developed her first crush.
Now 46, when Marianne finds her charming husband in the kitchen talking to the glamorous Charmaine, her childhood insecurities resurface and their once-happy marriage begins to slide. Teenage daughter Holly persuades her to join Friends Reunited, which results in both fearful and nostalgic memories of prep school as Marianne wonders what has become of the bullies and of Edward Harvey. Frantic to repair her marriage, yet rendered snappy and temperamental by her plummeting hormones, her attempts towards reconciliation fail. The answer to all her problems could lie in finding Edward again… But what would happen if she found what she seeks?
Meeting Lydia is a book about childhood bullying, midlife crises, obsession, jealousy and the ever-growing trend of internet relationships. It will appeal to fans of adult fiction and those interested in the dynamics and psychology of relationships. Author Linda is inspired by Margaret Atwood, Fay Weldon and David Lodge.
The prologue of ‘Meeting Lydia’ intrigued me straight away and the hook had my full attention. I wanted to know the answers to my ‘w’ questions … Why were they there? Why the lack of intimacy? What did it have to do with the story? What was happening the next day? Who is Lucy? Where are they?
Marianne’s journey of feeling comfortable in her skin is told with alternating threads of time. We start in August 2001 and then the next chapter finds us back inFebruary 1962 to when she is five years old. From that point on we get to experience Marianne’s time of angst in the school playground, in the classroom and playing field while also experiencing her life ‘now’ .
Her school days aren’t all about bullying. We also get to see her make friends and share part of her teenage years – although her lack of confidence stays with her.
When her relationship with Johnny shows cracks, those protective layers she’s surrounded her inner core with start peeling back to expose the rawness of the days when she was lacking in confidence and self-assurance. Her neuroses push Johnny away – it’s almost as though she is testing him – to see if he can surmount her challenges and be the perfect man she wants him to be.
Marianne has not dealt with her childhood demons and is still expecting others to provide happiness and love. Does she find out during her journey that love and happiness can only come from sharing those experiences and from within ourselves?
From reading the synopsis I wondered if Edward or the image of Edward would be the catalyst that would help Marianne face her insecurities and change her life totally. Did he play the role I assigned him before I even started reading the story?
Marianne is such a believable character. I identified with her in so many ways as I’m sure many women will (but then I do have a Capricorn Sun too!). Have you searched Friends Reunited? looking for the gang of boys you used to hang around with at school? Old friends you’ve lost touch with? Honestly? For those of us living with the M word (menopause), did you experience a sadness of all that’s gone by and an anxiety of your identity in the future without the very thing in our culture that makes us feel like women?
I did find Marianne exhausting – interpreting every nuance and taking those into account before deciding how she would react. At times she is manipulative, knowing what to do to elicit the response she wants from Johnny. In fact, I realised I could have been looking at myself … but quite a few years ago!
In becoming a part of Marianne’s story we experience much more than her school days and her relationship with Johnny. There are several things I enjoyed – her relationship with her daughter and how eventually she is able to show the love she feels; the snippets of time spent in the classroom while she is teaching (and yes, in school it is true, tell us names and we can tell you what character traits they portray in the classroom!) and how the author relates the units she is teaching as to what Marianne is going through with cyber friendships. I was behind her 100 percent when there is confrontation on a family day out …
Just before I started reading ‘Meeting Lydia’ I went to a friends wedding – my friend and I had been in the same class at school. I knew some of my old classmates would be there. Coincidentally, as these things happen, one of the ‘boys’ I had spent my entire school years with (and who incidentally protected me on the walk to and back from school) and I were talking about who we had stayed in touch with and this brought up ‘name calling’… and he showed remorse for a hurtful name he had called a friend I was still in touch with. A child’s perception is so different to an adults! Sometimes it is good when past and present meet …
I found the authors style of writing easy to read leaving room for my imagination to become completely involved. ‘Meeting Lydia’ is one woman’s psychological journey involving those she is closest to. All my questions from reading the prologue were, of course, answered …and you understand why the book has the title that it does.
I identified with Marianne so much that there really is only one fairy rating I can possibly give:
Buy it but be loathe to share your copy … it’s a keeper!
I would like to thank the author for sending me a signed copy of ‘Meeting Lydia’. All views and opinions expressed in my review are my own.
You can catch up with author Linda MacDonald on Twitter
I have just heard from Linda that there is a sequel to ‘Meeting Lydia’ focussing on two different characters from the story. I can’t say anymore without giving away the plot from this novel but suffice it to say, it will be on my wishlist.