LYDIA by Brian Willson

LYDIA

KIRKUS REVIEW

In this supernatural love story, when Ed Austin purchases a 200-year-old farm in Maine, it comes with a ghost that may haunt him in all the right ways.

Ed’s a simple guy. He drives a pickup truck, loves his German shepherd, Zelda, keeps in touch with his daughter, Clare, after the divorce, and loves designing typefaces. When his local junk shop gives him a tin box filled with elegant epistles, he finds a new obsession. The letters reveal the life of Lydia Starbird, a poetic soul and fellow dog lover who was being abused by her husband. She’s part of a long line of Starbirds, all buried in a cemetery near the family farmhouse, now for sale. Ed finds the letters filling his every thought, and after his beloved dog dies, Ed takes a leap by purchasing the Starbird farmhouse. While restoring it, he falls and injures himself in the woods, only to be rescued by a beautiful woman named Lydia. Asking around town about the rumor of the Starbird land being haunted, Ed hears that he’s not the first to be rescued by the woman. Though he dismisses the encounter as a fluke hallucination, Lydia’s ghost has other plans for them. Each may be exactly what the other needs for their heavy hearts to let go of the past. Much of the novel unfolds in picturesque forests and fields, and readers will be as charmed by the Maine landscape as Ed is. What’s more, Lydia’s impossible appearance never becomes gimmicky or trite. She’s fascinated by the flush toilet but doesn’t lose her ghostly grace. The novel falters, however, in the moments when it becomes heavily internal. Tens of pages are devoted simply to Ed reading Lydia’s letters. Not that much action should be expected from a man living alone with his dog, but it’s a relief when the letters end and Ed starts making decisions. Dog lovers especially will appreciate the attention paid to Ed and Zelda’s relationship, their tender exchanges and how Ed earnestly talks to her throughout the day. Ed’s a welcome bachelor who deserves the love he receives, however unnatural it may be.

A subtle love story that rewards patient readers with its quiet charms.

Pub Date: March 24th, 2013
Publisher: Three Islands Press
Program: Kirkus Indie
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