Former classmates Edward and Marianne, now fifty-five, have experienced a turbulent few years having lost contact with each other and suffered painful disruption to their home lives. Reunited again, this time through Twitter, they set about a search for personal fulfilment, but once again there are obstacles in the way – not least in the form of twice-widowed Jessica, Edward’s neighbour, who threatens to destroy their pursuit of happiness and whose behaviour has alarming consequences.
The extraordinary weather conditions prompt Edward and a former colleague to resurrect an idea for a documentary series that sets to challenge consumerist lifestyles. The Isles of Scilly become a model for sustainability and a filming trip to the islands provides an idyllic backdrop to the unfolding romantic tensions.
Set in 2012, the year of the London Olympics, the action alternates between Broadclyst and Beckenham and examines the difficult issues faced in committing to a new relationship in midlife. Could being alone be a preferable alternative?
Continuing themes of psychology, relationships and environmental sustainability, The Alone Alternative is the sequel to A Meeting of a Different Kind and the third and final part of the 'Lydia' series. Written from both male and female perspectives, it also stands alone as a fascinating read for both men and women who enjoy thought-provoking fiction, keeping readers guessing until the very end.
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December 2016 and Meeting Lydia is now released as an audiobook and is available via Amazon, Audible and iTunes. And book 4, The Man in the Needlecord Jacket has begun the publication process here with Troubador.
Loved this book and the whole trilogy. Perfect reading for those of us "of a certain age"!!
Meeting Lydia (2011) and A Meeting of a Different Kind (2012) were ‘keepers’ for me so of course, when I was offered the chance to read The Alone Alternative I jumped at the chance!
Although each novel can be read as a stand-alone, I would suggest starting with Meeting Lydia as I have become invested emotionally with the characters through each stage – especially Marianne!
As the title suggests, for different reasons, Edward and Marianne find themselves without their partners. I felt Marianne’s pain in my bones and Edward, well Edward follows through with his academia type personality and although he isn’t totally alone as daughter Harriet is still with him, he is stunned. His closest widowed neighbour Jessica (and a friend of Felicity’s) takes an interest in him. Edward, naïve and not one for confrontations, doesn’t see the possibility of what may happen. One particular conflict had me in tears.
Edward and Marianne had lost contact. Through the use of social media they slowly re-build their friendship. Mari is so very vulnerable and insecure.
With Marianne on the verge or retiring, she becomes involved in Edward’s sustainability project that has been revived. Once again, it is obvious that MacDonald knows her topic about ecology and economy. Some emotional scenes are played out on the Isles of Scilly where filming takes place …
MacDonald tackles another social issue in The Alone Alternative and uses the AS level students in Mari’s psychology class to ‘show the reader’. I love how she uses this in connection to the incidents.
Ironically, Taryn has a role assigned to her in the story that surprised me but I have to say I loved this!
Mari is true to form with her over-analysing although we do see a change and see her becoming more relaxed and accepting of situations.
How does it end? You’ll have to read it to find out …
The Alone Alternative for me is about two people in their mid-50’s who have to make changes in their lives due to circumstances beyond their control. It’s about the vulnerability and insecurity of how and when to make those changes needed … dealing with thoughts and emotions on how, at this stage in your life, you can still make a contribution to the world, to your own personal sphere AND be effective. MacDonald portrays all of these emotions with realism and sincerity. I shall miss Mari!
by Sharon Goodwin
Having read 'Meeting Lydia' and 'A Meeting of a Different Kind', I was waiting, with bated breath, for the publication for this third and final volume in the trilogy by Linda MacDonald.
I was not disappointed as the storyline continued on from 2011, a few years after the ending of the second novel. The relationship between Edward and Marianne continued to develop, with exciting twists and turns and new characters providing unexpected incidents between their communications. Now in their mid-fifties, their lives had both changed dramatically, with new possibilities for their futures. But, despite an apparent 'clearing of the decks' at the beginning of the book, there were many obstacles to overcome before the plot came to a conclusion.
Apart from the suspense supplied by the agonising over their relationship of the two main characters, there were some informative insights into eco-research, sustainability and the future of our planet. This was a thoughtful and thought-provoking piece of literature, relevant not only to fifty-somethings but to readers of all ages interested in interaction between people generally. Linda MacDonald's background in psychology gave a reality to the fully rounded characters she has created and made the reader care about what happened to them.
by Margot Rohan
Having read both Meeting Lydia and A Meeting of a Different Kind, I was hooked on Edward and Marianne's story and couldn't wait to read The Alone Alternative!
Taking place several years after the end of A Meeting of a Different Kind, the story picks up when both Edward and Marianne have suffered loss and have much changed personal circumstances. How will they cope with middle-age? What does this mean for their friendship?
The book takes you on their journey, dealing sensitively with issues such as divorce and death. As ever with Linda's novels, psychology plays a big part, this time with a stalking theme, as well as dealing with grown-up children, career fulfillment and retirement.
The environmental issues raised are thought provoking and extremely relevant - being set only two years ago, it's easy to remember the drought conditions, followed by torrential floods. And, of course the more recent heavy rain last winter.
Being part set in Beckenham, where I live, was an added attraction of the book. While many of the places named are fictional, if you know the area you still recognise many and can imagine where the fictional ones are. I've always enjoyed reading about somewhere I know and the book's setting added to its pleasure for me, especially the local Twitter references as I'm also part of that community. I've never been to Scilly but Linda's writing now makes me want to go!
You can read any of the trilogy as a stand-alone but I'd recommend reading all three to see the story and the characters develop over time. They're all thought-provoking page-turners!
by Jane Rogers