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Book DetailsISBN: 9780241986165
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Book Review: The Two Lives of Lydia Bird: The unputdownable and gorgeously romantic new love story from the Sunday Times bestseller by Josie Silver - Reviewed by CloggieA (29 Feb 2020)
4 stars “Grief is an odd thing. It’s mine and no one can do it for me, but there’s been this whole supporting cast of silent actors around me in the wings.”
The Two Lives of Lydia Bird is the second novel by British Author, Josie Silver. It’s eight weeks since her fiancé, Freddie Hunter, died in a car accident, and Lydia Bird is still laid flat by her overwhelming grief. Unable to sleep, or even face their conjugal bed, she’s getting more ragged by the day. When she finally relents to using pharmaceutical help for her insomnia, a strange thing happens: she wakes early with Freddie in her bed.
He’s alive and well, large as life and twice as handsome. Lydia is confused and tearful, but Freddie determines to cheer her up. It’s like the mornings they used to have, and she revels in his presence until he heads off to work. But when she later reawakens, it’s clear from her family that she must have imagined the whole thing. Until it happens again. If it’s some sort of alternate reality, Lydia doesn’t care, she’ll just grab it with both hands and enjoy these times with her beloved Freddie while she can.
After exhausting herself by spending all the sleep time she can with Freddie, Lydia rations herself to a weekly dose of her pink-pill-initiated bliss time. And while there are some parallels with her “awake” life, so much is, of course, different, and it all feels so real. So Lydia uses the pink pills as a reward, divine little doses of Freddie to keep her going, and as a way of coping with her now-very-altered life: “an escape from the hard, unforgiving coalface of grief”
During her waking hours, life without Freddie goes on, although Lydia sits at his graveside telling him what is going on in life and imagining what he might say. One piece of advice is to try to mend the friendship with his best friend, Jonah Jones, the man Lydia, if she’s honest, sort of blames for Freddie’s death.
It’s an interesting situation, and Lydia eventually comes to understand, from living in these two realities: “The thing about losing the love of your life is that you get to make up what would have happened afterwards. You’re entitled to dream all of your tomorrows would have been perfect because you loved them so much, you’re allowed to flex and bend every situation in your head so they’d say and do all the right things. Your love story never really ends because your brain paints them into every photograph and they’re there beside you on all of your special days. They don’t argue with you or fall short of your expectations, they don’t make questionable decisions…” Maybe real life is worth sticking with, grief and all?
Silver does an excellent job of portraying grief and the way people react to it, but some of the personality changes don’t quite ring true, the length may cause the reader to lose interest, and the ending is just a bit predictable. Still, there is a happy ending so romance fans might find it is just what they want. This unbiased review is from an uncorrected proof copy provided by NetGalley and Penguin Books (UK).
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