The Two Lives of Lydia Bird

I read Josie Silver’s One Day in December when it was a Book of The Month pick back in 2018. Despite liking her writing, I wasn’t able to enjoy her novel based on the premise, which revolved around the MC cheating with her best friend’s boyfriend. However, when I saw that it was a BOTM pick once more I couldn’t help but be intrigued, and figured it was a good as time as any to give her a second shot. 

The Two Lives of Lydia Bird follows Lydia Bird after the death of her fiancé Freddie in a tragic accident. In the wake of her grieving, she comes across magic sleeping pills that allow her to visit an alternate universe in which Freddie never died. As a result, the story continues with Lydia alternating between two worlds; one in which she remains with the love of her life; and another where she is forced to move on and begin again. 

The premise is certainly interesting enough, but where the story truly shines for me is in its vivid characters. Silver is prone to over describe at times, but this, for me at least, is a strength when it comes to building relationships and dynamics. There isn’t a single character in the novel whose personality feels slapped on. In fact, one of my favorite things was seeing Lydia interact with varying characters especially her family. 

However, the overall problem I had with this book was its story arc. I’d say that the first 60% builds wonderfully, but somewhere along the lines it seemed as if Silver lost track of the story she wanted to tell. In terms of page count, it’s not a very long book, but because that last 40% had so many plot points shoved in, in a story that didn’t need more than it already had, the story was weighed down until it had no option but to drag. 

Additionally, there were several loose threads that amounted to nothing. Rather than enrich the story, these plot lines diminished the core of the novel. Some examples (mild spoilers ahead) include: the pointless cat , the blind date scenario/Kris romance, and more than anything, running off to Croatia when it’s clear the story is supposed to be coming to a close. 

But I think where I was really let down was in the romance department. I was truly rooting for the love interest and Lydia to come together. Silver teased their relationship in such an artful manner, but there came a point where it was nothing but build up and no actual action was occurring. Mind you, when I refer to action I mean it in the simplest of manners: deep conversations (longer than just one page), perhaps a glance, flirting of sorts, honestly anything more would’ve been better. Unfortunately, the author gave us so little of their relationship that by the time something finally happened, at the very last page no less, I was fresh out of energy for them. Even more depressing was how bland their ending was in return. 

Overall, The Two Lives of Lydia Bird is a good novel, and I definitely enjoyed it more than the author’s debut. That being, I think there was a lot of potential for this novel to have been great, and since I was never truly satisfied with the course and ending that took place, my last impression can’t help but be disappointment.

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