To read ‘Meeting Lydia‘ is to sit in a comfy front room with the author, and listen while she tells you the story. Linda MacDonald is a raconteur, an ‘under-the-banyan-tree’, book-at-bedtime story teller, who conjures up complex images through a stream-of-consciousness narrative. Some might say there is more telling than showing, but they would be mistaken in judging this to be a fault. The telling is not exposition, not info-dumping, not tedious scene-setting. The telling is Bridget Jones; it is the internal curiosities, private debates, and mental machinations of the main character, Marianne, as she negotiates a mid-life crisis, the menopause, and a re-emergence of past horrors. If you are intrigued by relationships, by the seismic shifts brought on by the passage of time, or by the impact of early experience on the adult psyche, you will find more than enough here to meet your requirements. And while fiction it may be, the fact is grounded and you can trust the psychology, the insights, and the research. Linda knows her stuff, and it shows.
‘Meeting Lydia‘ is about Marianne’s internet pursuit, via Friends Reunited, of a past relationship. It is the single thread upon which she hangs a thousand-and-one intricate scenes of self discovery; any one of which might be seen as an irrelevant distraction from the plot, but each of which is like one of those tiny shops or galleries you come across unexpectedly while looking for Debenhams. If all you want is a mainstream chain store, this book is not for you. But if what you love best is poking around in unique and idiosyncratically organised one-roomers where the owner can tell you who made everything and the names of their grandchildren, you are very much in luck.
I was afraid of reviewing this book. My best friend is the author, we exchange Kula gifts (look up ‘Trobriand Islanders‘ and fix on yams and necklaces), and I’m pretty certain I’m in there somewhere, although definitely not as Edward. It has turned out to be easy to review because it is structurally competent, refreshingly unburdened by convention, and has no wasted words. It reads like a film, and maybe it should be one. So open up your copy of ‘Meeting Lydia‘, start up the projector in your head, and let Linda tell you a story.
Now out on Kindle via Amazon.