Marianne is in her mid-forties, mother to a teenage daughter who is just off to university and up until this point, Marianne has been in a seemingly very happy marriage to Johnny. However, underneath the surface are all sorts of issues that are impacting on Marianne’s life; the menopause, unresolved problems from her childhood, husband drinking, suspecting her husband is having an affair and their daughter leaving home.
Through Friends Reunited Marianne resurrects a tenuous childhood friendship and they begin to exchange emails. These emails become a vehicle for Marianne to find comfort and empowerment, finally being able to confront the demons of her childhood and make her a stronger person. In part this novel examines the implications of cyber friendships, reasons for forming friendships and how the written word can be interpreted and misinterpreted. At times I found these emails quite deep with a lot of self-reflecting by Marianne but at the same time they were a cathartic exercise for her as she was unable to express her true thoughts and feelings to her husband. As the story unfolded, the background to Marianne’s unhappy times at school were gradually revealed and the reasons for her low self-esteem and self-doubt became more apparent.
The story spans approximately twelve months or so and over that time the reader can see a change in Marianne and how she wrestles the issues that have been haunting her. It also shows how she deals with her doubts over her husband’s fidelity – as a psychology teacher she is able to understand her actions and reactions but is too close, the emotions too near the surface, for her to deal with them in the way she knows she should.
I particularly enjoyed the scenes between Marianne and Johnny, although like Marianne I didn’t understand Johnny’s actions until very near the end. To sum up this book and to quote from it, Meeting Lydia “explores the themes of bullying and midlife crises – associated or otherwise.” and I know Linda MacDonald warned me that this was not a romance story, I still managed to find some between Marianne and Johnny.
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