Penguin Books January 2020
Lydia and Freddie. Freddie and Lydia.
They’ve been together for almost a decade, and Lydia thinks their love is indestructible.
But she’s wrong. Because on her twenty – seventh birthday, Freddie dies in a car accident.
So now it’s just Lydia, and all she wants to do is hide indoors and sob till her eyes fall out. But Lydia knows that Freddie would want her to live her life well. So, enlisting the help of his best friend and her sister Elle, she takes her first tentative steps into the world and starts to live – perhaps even to love – again.
Then something unbelievable happens, and Lydia get another chance at her old life with Freddie. But what if there’s someone in her new life who wants her to stay.
Thank you to Penguin Books for the copy of this book, I had previously enjoyed One Day in December (review here) by the same author so was keen to read this book. Best described as Contemporary Fiction, but likely to be in the ‘Chick Lit’ category this was a pleasant and easy read. A central theme of death and loss made the story sad and moving at times but having finished the book this morning it is clearly a hopeful and uplifting read.
Loosing her soulmate in a road traffic accident is both shocking and traumatic for Lydia and it is as this event happens that we meet her and join her on her journey. Open to interpretation, but essentially Lydia takes some sleeping pills which take her off into a sleeping world where her life with Freddie continues, a life in which he didn’t die and they move forwards, towards their wedding together. Lydia lives between these 2 worlds and gains comfort and solace in her sleeping world with Freddie.
I liked Lydia’s character and enjoyed her strong female relationships with her mother and sister. I preferred the latter part of the story as Lydia is forced to make choices between her real and ‘imagined’ life as her immediate grief lessens and events in her real life begin to draw her back. This felt like such a positive way of exploring grief as Lydia began to have to make choices about how much she wanted to be absent or not as her life moved on without Freddie. The way the story is told makes these abstract issues more literal and this was very well written.
Written in the first person voice of Lydia, the chapters vary in length and are titled either ‘Awake’ or ‘Asleep’ depending on Lydia’s state and thus her world. Overall I enjoyed this book, as I mentioned previously, I preferred the latter part and I wonder if the story was a little long. Also, while written chronologically, the story jumps forward so it is worth noting the dates at the start of each chapter. The author describes herself as an ‘unabashed romantic’ and this book ticks those boxes, completely with its happy, feel good ending. A nice read for these difficult times!
About the Author
Josie Silver is the author of the Sunday Times and Reese Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine Book Club bestseller One Day in December. It has been published in thirty-one languages and counting. Josie is an unabashed romantic, and lives with her husband, their two teenage sons, two cats and a dog in a little town in the Midlands. The Two Lives of Lydia Bird is her second novel.