Title: Lydia’s Party by Margaret Hawkins
Publisher: Viking Adult
Genre: Contemporary, Fiction
Length: 304 pages
Book Rating: C
Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley
For fans of Anne Tyler and Anna Quindlen, a mesmerizing portrait of friendship that explores seven women’s lives with a generous embrace and wondrous wisdom
Lydia is having a party—it’s a party she hosts every year for six women friends who treasure the midwinter bash. Over a table laden with a feast of food and wine, the women revel in sharing newsy updates, simmering secrets, and laughter. As this particular evening unfolds, Lydia prepares to make a shattering announcement.
As we follow these friends through their party preparations, we meet flawed but lovable characters who are navigating the hassles of daily chores while also meditating in stolen moments on their lives, their regrets, their complicated relationships, and their deepest desires. When Lydia’s announcement shocks them all, they rediscover the enduring bonds of friendship and find their lives changing in unexpected ways.
Tender, wryly funny, and exquisitely written, Lydia’s Party poignantly considers both the challenges of everyday life and of facing our fears while creating characters whose fears, foibles, and feistiness will capture readers’ hearts.
Lydia’s Party by Margaret Hawkins is a bittersweet and melancholy novel about the intricate bonds of longtime friendship. A yearly gathering of former co-workers turned friends, this year’s Bleak Winter Bash will forever change their lives and ultimately, their friendship.
As Lydia prepares to host this year’s gathering, she is very contemplative about the friendships that have endured for close to twenty years. She is also very reflective as she thinks back on her various relationships and her career decisions. While Lydia is content with some decisions, she is regretful for others and clearly sees where she might have done things differently.
Interspersed with Lydia’s musings are chapters written from some of her guests’ perspectives as they prepare for the upcoming party. All but Lydia have moved on from the community college where they originally met. They are an eclectic blend of happily married, divorced and single women who have found various degrees of personal and professional success. But overall, they, too, suffer from different levels of dissatisfaction about how their lives have turned out.
The characters are well-developed and their honesty about their lives and their friendships is refreshing. While I was not able to relate to the women’s situations or their regrets, their life lessons are interesting and thought-provoking. The story begins strongly but it eventually becomes bogged down in superfluous details that seem to add little to the developing plot. However the end of the novel is fast paced and the growth of the characters is quite impressive.
Lydia’s Party by Margaret Hawkins is a moving novel of friendship and loss, and it is a timely reminder to live life to its fullest. It is a little sad, but it is also uplifting as each of the women emerges from tragedy a little bit stronger. All in all, a worthwhile read that explores the bonds of friendship.