Audiobook Blog Tour | “Meeting Lydia” by Linda MacDonald

Posted Friday, 17 February, 2017 by jorielov , , 0 Comments

Audiobook Review Badge made by Jorie in Canva.

Acquired Digital Audiobook by: I am a new blog tour hostess with Audiobookworm Promotions wherein I have the opportunity to receive audiobooks for review or adoption (reviews outside of organised blog tours) and host guest features on behalf of authors and narrators alike. I started hosting for Audiobookworm Promotions at the end of [2016] during “The Cryptic Lines” tour wherein I became quite happily surprised how much I am now keen on listening to books in lieu of reading them in print. My journey into audiobooks was prompted by a return of my chronic migraines wherein I want to offset my readings with listening to the audio versions.

I received a complimentary audiobook copy of “Meeting Lydia” via the publicist at Audiobookworm Promotions (of whom was working directly with the author Linda MacDonald) in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Why I wanted to read this story:

Shortly ahead of this review, I posted an author guest post in relation to the topical inclusions of ‘Meeting Lydia’ where the author and I share different points of view on behalf of being bullied whilst being integrated into a co-ed learning environment which was once boys-only.

I do find stories like this which seek out the social-psychological perspectives to be most interesting to read – as we all react differently to situations we might share in common. In essence, despite the amount of bullying I’ve endured in my life, I have yet to find another who has experienced the same who felt the way I did about all of it. I do credit my rebounding approach to find the goodness in others and to find something to be thankful for each day. Whilst my parents were steadfast in their support but also had the foresight to pull me in and out of public and private schools to where I was never in the same bad situation twice even if it repeated at another school.

To me though, this did not initially feel like a story of someone who was once bullied and lateron had issues moving forward in life but rather it presented itself more of a mid-life change of philosophy about life, love and second chances when it comes to romance and relationships. How to off-set hormonal changes as well (ie. menopause) and how to deal with possible regrets (of roads not taken) which might come back to haunt someone whose still not quite where they wanted to be at the age in which they felt their lives would have been fully resolved by now.
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Audiobook Blog Tour | “Meeting Lydia” by Linda MacDonaldMeeting Lydia
by Linda MacDonald
Source: Audiobook via Audiobookworm Promotions
Narrator: Harriet Carmichael

Edward Harvey. Even thinking his name made her tingle with half-remembered childlike giddiness. Edward Harvey, the only one from Brocklebank to whom she might write if she found him.”

Marianne Hayward, teacher of psychology and compulsive analyser of the human condition, is hormonally unhinged. The first seven years of her education were spent at a boys’ prep school, Brocklebank Hall, where she was relentlessly bullied. From the start, she was weak and frightened and easy prey for Barnaby Sproat and his gang. Only one boy was never horrible to her: the clever and enigmatic Edward Harvey, on whom she developed her first crush.

Now 46, when Marianne finds her charming husband in the kitchen talking to the glamorous Charmaine, her childhood insecurities resurface and their once-happy marriage begins to slide. Teenage daughter Holly persuades her to join Friends Reunited, which results in both fearful and nostalgic memories of prep school as Marianne wonders what has become of the bullies and of Edward Harvey. Frantic to repair her marriage, yet rendered snappy and temperamental by her plummeting hormones, her attempts towards reconciliation fail.

The answer to all her problems could lie in finding Edward again...
But what would happen if she found what she seeks?

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to Riffle

ASIN: B01N74OZJ5

Also by this author:

Genres: Contemporary (Modern) Fiction (post 1945), Women's Fiction


Published by Essential Music

on 17th November, 2016

Format: Audiobook | Digital

Length: 8 hours and 43 minutes (unabridged)

About Linda MacDonald

Linda Macdonald

Born and brought up in the town of Cockermouth in the Lake District in England, Linda MacDonald has a degree in psychology from Goldsmiths’, London University, and a PGCE in biology and science. She retired in 2012 from teaching psychology in a 6th Form College in order to focus on writing, and has now published three print novels, the first of which is now an audiobook. She lives in Beckenham in Greater London, and travels to speak to various groups about the inspiration behind the ‘Lydia’ series and the psychology of internet relationships.

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my review of meeting lydia:

The story opens in the late Sixties – where we first meet Lydia and Lucy. Here Lydia comes off as being the more confident of the two whereas Lucy is the more introverted of the two. Their juvenile voices are aptly portrayed by Ms Carmichael, who pulls you into the scene and gives you a glimpse of how she will alter her voice per each age of the character involved in the story. There is more to this scene which isn’t carried forward for awhile – but it serves as a good entryway to understanding the narrator’s approach rather than the back-story of the main character.

The story shifts immediately to Marianne – where a wife was envious of her husband’s new work companion; a woman of a particular style and body language which upset the apple cart in her self-confidence regarding her martial stability. Her husband was still quite handsome with winsome features, which did not help Marianne’s mood finding this particularly unwelcome woman in her home. Her mood was upturnt by her memories of being bullied in childhood – where the girls who she was instantly reminded about through Charmaine’s appearance came pounding back to her mind. She allowed her insecurities to threaten her mindset about her husband’s reactions to the same situation – he saw Charmaine as a work mate, not as an interloper of trying to untether a happy marriage.

The stress of their tense emotional conflicts was pushing Marianne’s husband to the brink of how much more of her judgment he could handle; thus, finding drowning his woes into pints of lager. It is here we start to become privy to what is causing Marianne the conflict – her memories are jarred and scarred by the bullies of her childhood – memories which to the outside eye are perceived as being unchanged and unaddressed as if they had happened yesterday. This is a bit difficult to understand, as I personally turnt to my parents immediately when bullied and sought their advice, council and felt relieved to have such a strong sounding board of understanding supporting me during the most difficult moments of my growing years. To hear Marianne’s anguish over her years of being bullied – it nearly felt as if she didn’t have the same luxury of finding sympathetic support and a kind heart of love enveloping her when she needed it most. This is hard to drink in as I had hoped others in a similar situation would have found the same level of comfort I had; even though I knew not everyone is blessed with parents who believe in their children. It’s just hard to conceptionalise how a lifetime can be lived to where someone hasn’t had the chance to purge the emotional angst of childhood until mid-age. Almost as if they are stuck in a vacuum without being able to move forward nor return back to where they originated.

One of my favourite bits of the novel were the in-between bits – where Marianne was off travelling through England – or during the everyday moments when she was awaiting her husband or daughter. MacDonald truly rounded out those bits of life which occupy quite a lot of our focus, where time can be a harbinger of emotions or a reasoning period of understanding the past. When MacDonald started to insert the issues related to menopause, the story felt a bit more real to me, because part of me felt this hormonal shift in Marianne might be what was leading to her psychological unrest all along. It’s a very difficult transition for all women; especially to shift through the thoughts and feelings which assault themselves at all the wrong times. You could definitely sympathise with how this new chapter of her life was crushing her spirits – it was dredging up such a heap of unresolved issues, it was almost as if a part of her spirit felt cracked and broken apart.

As Holly prodded her Mum about her escapades on her online search queuing for long lost mates from adolescence – the story turnt a bit interesting. Here we entreated into the harder memories of Marianne’s past – where Edward was brought forward to come back fully to life as he were in school. This is where MacDonald highlights Marianne’s experiences as feeling closed off from her peers – where only one classmate bolstered her spirits during those trying years. She remembers how Edward was also bullied; something they both shared in common. Yet she never broached the subject to him nor made any effort at all to contact him – she observed him from afar, and realised she understood him better than she gave herself credit for at the time.

MacDonald moves back and forth between the current timeline and the past, where Marianne was bullied often by her school mates – where she remembers questioning her parents about why they sent her to that particular school. You gather there wasn’t much imput on Marianne’s behalf about what was occurring at school and her parents’ indifference towards having placed her there. In full stop – the parents were disconnected from their daughter and thereby, were immune to her struggles because they were not co-participating in her school years but rather had ‘placed’ her elsewhere from their direct supervision and thereby expected her to get on irregardless of the difficulties which might arise. A sad reality by half and a difficult reality to swallow for a child; yet Marianne did remember there were some positives which inserted happier memories despite the oppressive frequency of being bullied by a group of boys who simply rubbed her wrong every chance they could. Except her memories deleted these happier bits and simply replayed the obstacles of being bullied – of feeling inadequate in the face of her peers and the internal struggle to move past the negative oppression to seek a freedom from past hurts.

What I felt was missing though is the tether piece – how the bullying dialogue and the email courtship tie and directly connect together as a catalyst towards the heart of the story. Interestingly she didn’t mention menopause as being a precursor as to why her character was feeling a little less confident in herself and why seeking a mate from the past felt like a good idea – I thought perhaps part of the story-line was going to focus on shifting hormone levels and thereby, upsetting her psychological state, however, I might be off the mark with the author’s intentions or mistook how the arc of the story would shift into a different end-game. Although menopause plays a strong role in Marianne’s journey, it felt disconnected from her psychological inward journey.

In conclusion, I feel I might have been the wrong reader for this audiobook – mostly as I’ve transitioned past being bullied in such a way as I think my personal bias is affecting how I am interpreting the story. It’s hard for me to insert myself into a character whose personal life is so fully changed by being bullied to where she never quite moved past childhood angst to embrace the beauty of being a liberated adult outside the sphere of childhood. It’s one thing to hold onto regrets of past choices or to regret not taking risks in life by playing it a bit more safe in regards to choices that affect your life’s path – but to struggle to the layers in which Marianne does to overcome her past, I found myself struggling to connect to her character’s journey. In retrospect, I misunderstood the direction of the novel and thereby, mistook where the novel would take me.

Fly in the Ointment:

Oh, dear my! Although I recognise most Contemporary stories have vulgarity quite peppered through their narratives, I am never one whose keen to find them as randomly or purposefully inserted. The main bone of contention I have is for one particular word which has it’s erroneous way of making it’s presence in most stories of our modern age. Ergo, right there in the opening chapters it was spoken a bit out of place from where I thought we were going with the dialogue, and though, it empathsised a particular ‘point’, its just not a word I advocate to find inside today’s fiction. There are so many other words which can be used and oft-times can articulate the same response or emotion quite well indeed.

I didn’t mind the Briticisms included – as I read a high volume of UK fiction on a regularly basis year round – sometimes, I think their slang has a creative spin on life and phrases of expression. Mind you, I error on not always recognising their naughtier words, but Brits charm me by how they spin their tales, by giving a different presentation of stories than the craft of the tradition we find stateside. UK fiction is simply something I love to read in other words – and ergo aside from some of the pepperings of strong words, I didn’t take issue with anything else.

With one exception: I found it distracting to have this titled as ‘Meeting Lydia’. I thought it would have been better titled: Healing Marianne or Marianne’s New Perspective or Switching Hearts – to infer a change of behaviour or mind-set.

on the contemporary writing style of linda macdonald:

One observation I had forgotten to share from the author’s guest post is this one: I had to smile when she said most people wouldn’t write those they do not already know – as I’ve been a pen pal since I was 11 years old. I’ve had a lot of lovely friendships with friends who live outside my state but more directly outside my country –  so, honestly – yes there are those of us out there would would entertain a friendship with someone who lives elsewhere from where we do but I do understand she was trying to underknit a mode of caution for readers who might be new to the idea of email or postal mail friendships. Either those such as I had which were platonic or others who are pursuing something more romantically inclined.

Where I do sympathise with the author is the bullies themselves – they find a way to get to you and sometimes despite your best attempts not to let them through your defences they still manage to upset your heart and lower your spirits. Growing up is difficult that’s for sure, and being bullied as an adult isn’t easy either – but somewhere along the way I knew my living truth and I knew who I was all along too, so somewhere I just realised if I own my truth and live my life at some point everything will work out. This is where I deviate a bit to understand directly how someone who was bullied in lower grades but not as an adult would carry forward the after effects for thirty years – although my personal experiences differ greatly than the author or character, I did empathise with the issues arising out of the bullying attacks, but was a bit surprised once the situation where the bullies had the most control was removed, the one being bullied didn’t feel the same level of freedom I had? I’ve been bullied from childhood through adulthood – but I cannot claim the same responses nor issues, as stated on the top anchour of the author’s guest post.

Definitely a good dialogue to have right now in the world. How to circumvent bullies and to find your own path with the strength to know ‘its never you’ but how to face the world and embrace that mantra at the same time! As much as realising that sometimes it takes longer to resolve certain aspects of our lives. Inasmuch as the random joys which takes us by surprise lateron in life. Don’t you agree!?

I did think it was good turn to broach the delicate subject of how to deal with menopause, recognising it’s symptomatic arrival and the cautionary alert note about HRT therapies, as this is something which all women need to know about at some point. If your a daughter or niece, odds are in favour your Mum, Aunts or Grand-Mums have discussed most of this with you – but in case, your family is a bit more closed to medical conversations, MacDonald gave a small primer of things that ‘come up’ and ‘come to mind’ whilst embracing this new chapter of a woman’s journey.

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specifically in regards to the audiobook:

I am appreciative of Ms Jess providing a cursory outline of how best to articulate my listening hours on behalf of this audiobook and the others I shall be blogging about or reviewing in future. I’ve modified the suggestions to what I felt were pertinent to respond too on my own behalf as well as keeping to the questions I felt were relevant to share.

About Harriet Carmichael

Harriet Carmichael

I've always loved doing voices. I grew up with Radio 4 being on constantly in the background. Somehow the voices and accents broadcast over the years soaked in. And now I do voices. Or if you ask my agent, I'm a "voice artist".

For the last seven years I've spent most of my days in front of a microphone: as myself; as seven-year-old boys; talkingbaboons; angsty teenagers (usually American); androgynous talking cats; Glaswegian Grannies; the cast of The Archers...

After university I trained at The Oxford School of Drama and then acted mainly with touring theatre companies - some brilliant, some not so... I had a lot of fun, but once I started doing voiceovers in warm studios with good coffee, being on the road lost some of its appeal.

And the voice can do much more than people think. Tone, timing, pitch and accent can all vary depending on the job. From commercials and corporates to cartoons, computer games and audiobooks, it's a brilliant job and, really, I owe it all to Radio 4.

Listening Habit:

I honestly broke my habit of colouring and listening to audiobooks – as it happened, I simply found the hours clicking off the clock to such a degree of speed, I listened to this audio a bit on the ‘go’ be as it were. I cannot complain – as the one beauty of listening to audiobooks is how portable they are and how easily you can ‘pick up from whence you’ve left off’; sometimes even a bit easier than a print copy. Not always, but sometimes this can be true. I did a few random searches online to offset the listening periods due to needing to find a way to ‘hone in’ on the narrator’s voice. Even without colouring, I still find myself needing to find a way to fuse a level of focus where I can pull in on the story-line and draw my mind ‘out’ a bit to encompass the fullness of the story.

Number of Narrators:

There is only one narrator of this novel, yet you almost felt tricked a bit as Ms Carmichael has an innate ability to relate each character in due course to stand alone and yet, intermix with each other quite brilliantly. Her undertones and expressions lend themselves well to the characters, as she finds her way forward by sensing how each character is reacting in the scenes where she needs to articulate a particular emotional response or to draw out an introspective point of view. She is definitely an organic narrator; my favourite kind.

Number of Times I’ve heard the Narrator(s):

This is my first time listening to Ms Carmichael, and I am thankful for the opportunity considering how well she interpreted the characters.

Regards to the Narrator’s Individual Character performances:

There are different ages of characters sprinkled throughout the novel – from a teenage daughter of Marianne, to Marianne herself – Ms Carmichael makes the distinction between the two quite well. She drops her voice a bit for Holly’s bits and kept Marianne’s voice fluctuating between confidence and self-criticisms.

How the Novel sounded to me as it was being Read: (theatrical or narrative)

This felt to be a combination of theatrical and narrative – where the characters came to life and felt as if you were listening to a proper radio play – where the illumination of the scenes are enhanced by how the voicing of the characters takes you into a more interpersonal experience. It turnt narrative when it was necessary to focus on the more intrapersonal aspects – including the thinking mind of Marianne – where she tried to decipher her feelings and better understand her emotional resolve.

Regards to Articulation & Performance of different sections of the novel:

There were a few points in the story-line where I had a small reminisce over “Keeping Up Appearances” where Marianne was badgering her husband – not only over what she invented shifting between them but when he was opting to head down to the pub to ‘unwind’ and decompress. This made me smile due to how much I loved the rom-com television serial which also showed how stress in marriage can lead to a frequency of pub visits; though in Richard’s case, it was more Onslo’s hobby than his but when pushed, he opted for a pint, too. To see a spark of this behaviour in ‘Meeting Lydia’ felt right to be inserted, as sometimes I think husbands don’t always know how to react to their wives. Sometimes an emotional response can come out of left field for them, and they are unable to compensate – especially, as revealled in this novel, Marianne never spoke of her past with her husband; ergo, he never knew why she was socially self-reproachful and judgmental of other women.

Notes on the Quality of Sound & the Background Ambiance:

I felt the sound quality was sharp and clear – where the articulations of the words were easily recongisable – and became such a joy to listen too. A narrator like Ms Carmichael ebbs through the narration like a long lost friend entertaining you with the missing bits of a life you hadn’t yet had the pleasure of knowing but of someone who has the ability to draw you in without even meeting up with in half an age. Someone who can simply find a way to draw your interest by how they creatively understand how to ‘tell a story’ by making you feel as if you’ve lived through their own memories.

Preference after listening to re-Listen or pick up the book in Print?

I definitely appreciated being able to listen to Ms Carmichael’s presentation – as her voice is now amongst those narrators I wish to continue to seek out. She has such a pleasant way about her narration and the joy, truly is seeing how she will interpret what is written in script for her to perform. She’s definitely a voice actor who understands the circle of joy from narrator to reader and how by bridging the gap between text and audio, she’s found a way to draw you deeper into any story she’s bringing to life. This is always the mark of a narrator I will love following and for this, I am thankful I signed up for the blog tour.

In closing, would I seek out another Harriet Carmichael audiobook?

I will indeed! I am going to have to research which other titles she’s undertaken and which kinds of stories she narrates overall before I select my next listening choice. I am simply celebrating ‘finding her’ and being privy to her narrating style.

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 This blog tour is courtesy of Audiobookworm Promotions:

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Whilst participating on:

Meeting Lydia blog tour via Audiobookworm PromotionsFun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

{SOURCES: Cover art of “Meeting Lydia”, book synopsis, author biography, author photo, Audiobookworm Promotions badge and the audiobook tour badge were all provided by Audiobookworm Promotions and used with permission. Post dividers by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination. Tweets embedded by codes provided by Twitter. Blog graphics created by Jorie via Canva: Book Review Banner using Unsplash.com (Creative Commons Zero) Photography by Frank McKenna and the Comment Box Banner.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2017.

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About jorielov

I am self-educated through local libraries and alternative education opportunities. I am a writer by trade and I cured a ten-year writer’s block by the discovery of Nanowrimo in November 2008. The event changed my life by re-establishing my muse and solidifying my path. Five years later whilst exploring the bookish blogosphere I decided to become a book blogger. I am a champion of wordsmiths who evoke a visceral experience in narrative. I write comprehensive book showcases electing to get into the heart of my reading observations. I dance through genres seeking literary enlightenment and enchantment. Starting in Autumn 2013 I became a blog book tour hostess featuring books and authors. I joined The Classics Club in January 2014 to seek out appreciators of the timeless works of literature whose breadth of scope and voice resonate with us all. "I write my heart out and own my writing after it has spilt out of the pen." - self quote (Jorie of Jorie Loves A Story) more >> | Hire me as a betareader | Policies & Review Requests
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Posted Friday, 17 February, 2017 by jorielov in 21st Century, Audiobook, Audiobookworm Promotions, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Dating & Humour Therein, Fly in the Ointment, Indie Author, Modern Day, Realistic Fiction, Sociology, Vulgarity in Literature, Women's Fiction

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