Audiobook Review | The Two Lives of Lydia Bird by Josie Silver, narrated by Olivia Vinall

⭐⭐⭐⭐(4/5)

TW: death, grief, miscarriage

Lydia and Freddie have been together since they were teenagers, and now they are engaged and preparing for their wedding day. However, when tragedy strikes and Freddie dies in a car accident, Lydia is lost. Her life with Freddie was planned out – how can she continue without him? Then, she unexpectedly finds a way that she can be with Freddie again, but can she live two lives?

Firstly, I really enjoyed Olivia Vinall’s reading of this book. If you want to read this book, the audiobook is definitely worth a listen.

Secondly, I wondered how I would feel about this novel considering that I had read similar books about grief and finding oneself recently.

What sets this novel apart is the fact that Lydia realises that her medication enables her to live life with Freddie. This was an interesting device used by Silver to give Lydia the possibility to live her desired life, and to show us what Lydia and Freddie’s relationship is / was like. Being able to see Lydia and Freddie together was important, especially to understand Lydia and what it is that she has lost.

I really liked the character of Lydia and felt sympathy and concern for the character. I wondered whether being able to see Freddie in another life would make Lydia struggle further with grief in her real life, but Lydia uses the ability to see Freddie to get her through her time without him. I was surprised that Lydia is able to progress in her real life whilst knowing that she could be with Freddie, but I am pleased the novel went in that direction. Lydia is more self aware than I expected too, and acknowledges problems that arise from her actions. Her character arc and growth was the defining part of this novel and I enjoyed following it.

Silver deals sensitively with topics such as grief and miscarriage, but the overall theme of the novel was geared towards life moving forwards and finding ways to carry on.

As the novel progressed, it was clear that the concept of living both lives was going to be different than one may initially expect. For example, people naturally change over time, so how can you jump between lives and be the same person in both of them? Plus, other people around you will change too.

There were certainly emotional moments in this novel, particularly as we know Lydia is going to have to make a decision at some point because living in two different lives just isn’t feasible. Knowing this decision would have to come kept me reading to see what happened, but I knew it would be emotional one way or another.

Although Lydia is the focus of the novel, other characters are well-rounded and have their own stories too. I liked getting to know them, and I was pleased that they were given their space in the narrative. Elle is a character that I particularly liked, and I enjoyed her sisterly relationship with Lydia.

At one point in the narrative, it felt like there had been a bit of a jump. Lydia did explain some of this later, but it did feel a bit odd as I was listening. Due to the time period that the novel covers, there does have to be a small gap in time occasionally, but usually that was fine. The chapters made things quite clear, particularly when distinguishing which life Lydia is in for that chapter.

The ending of the novel was good, but it did leave some things up to the reader. I understand why the author did this, and this audiobook had an interview with Josie Silver at the end which helped me understand more about the novel and I liked this addition.

Overall, this was an interesting concept and way of looking at grief, and the novel explored thought provoking themes and ideas. I think that Silver created loveable characters, particularly Lydia, and executed her idea really well. I would recommend this novel, and the audiobook too.

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