Title: The Two Lives of Lydia Bird
Author: Josie Silver
Genre/Themes: Contemporary, Grief, Loss, Emotional Drama, Lucid Dreaming
Blurb from Goodreads
Two love stories. One Impossible Choice.
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 27th birthday, Freddie dies in a tragic accident.
So now it’s just Lydia, and all she wants to do is hide indoors and sob ’til 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 gets another chance at her old life with Freddie. But what if there’s someone in her new life who wants her to stay?
‘The Two Lives of Lydia Bird‘ is the new novel by Josie Silver, the author of last year’s light fiction sensation ‘One Day in December‘. I enjoyed One Day in December but this book…
This book is on another level compared to that! It is thoroughly gripping and truly emotional.
The story follows the titular Lydia Bird as she struggles to deal with life in the aftermath of her fiancé Freddie’s sudden and tragic death. In the waking world we see Lydia shut down and find herself listlessly moving through her life. She is given pills to help her to sleep and these pills somehow cause her to experience what I can best describe as lucid dreaming episodes in which her life with Freddie continues as normal past his death.
Lydia is torn between these two worlds and somehow needs to find her way through to a place where she can begin to rebuild her life.
This book is really brilliant how in how it creates a perfectly believable alternate life for Lydia that never felt strangely far-fetched. The narrative choices of this novel are wonderful at how they illustrate grief, loss and how such a monumentally life changing life event forces you to become a new version of yourself.
It was so moving to read about Lydia’s struggles in her waking life and how these struggles began to subtly change her relationship with Freddie in the lucid dreaming world. I really loved Lydia as a character. I felt she was beautifully complex and quite an authentic feeling character in that she never felt overly perfect (i.e. a special snowflake style character) but instead had flaws which made her feel all the more relatable.
I also really adored the relationships that the author created between Lydia and all the other characters. Each relationship be it her romantic relationship with Freddie, her familial relationships with her mum and sister, or her friendship with life long friend (and Freddie’s bestie) Jonah all felt unique and interesting to read about as the author really expertly and sensitively created relationships that at times were deepened and at others strained by the all encompassing grief that Lydia was going through.
The pacing of this story was nigh on perfect too. I loved how the author took us on an approximate 18 month journey with Lydia in this book as it really helped to show how grief impacts a person in both the short and long term. Nothing felt rushed nor did it feel too slow. And to me the ending was incredibly satisfying and had the perfect tone of both sadness and optimism for the future; perfectly bittersweet.
I would definitely recommend this to people who enjoy getting swept away by emotional fiction.
An e-copy of this book was kindly provided to me by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review
Publishing March 2020