“No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear.” — C.S. Lewis

When a love story is cut short by death, it can cut you to the bone. Grief is the monster that we forget to be afraid of as children, and only after a loss do we begin to grow wary of it. We check our closets and beneath the bed to see if it’s lurking there. Our latest read takes us to a small English village where a woman is fighting her personal grief monster.

The Two Live of Lydia Bird by Josie Silver

Josie Silver has a way with words that will leave readers both breathless and heartbroken and optimistically dreamy all at the same time.

In her sophomore novel, “The Two Lives of Lydia Bird,” Silver introduces readers to Lydia, poor, heart-shattered Lydia who is grieving the loss of her fiance. The love of her life, the only man she ever loved since she was 14-years-old died in a car accident on his way to her birthday dinner and that loss completely shook apart her life. After living weeks of a Freddie-less existence, and a sleepless one. she agrees to take some sleeping pills that were prescribed to her by her doctor in the hopes of getting a reprieve from her grief.

After taking the sleeping pills, Lydia wakes up to find herself in a different life, a life where Freddie didn’t die and they’re still on track for their wedding. As Lydia increasingly escapes her grief in her real life to be with Freddie in the life they should have had together, Lydia feels torn by the push and pull of her real life and her fantasy life with Freddie. While Lydia tries to piece herself back together, she sees that her family and her friends are also suffering over the loss of Freddie and their extensive efforts to try and prop her up.

The human desire to want to explore the if/then question of what life would be like if a loved one hadn’t died is compelling. Silver’s story is not one that would be recommended to someone who is currently feeling raw from their own personal tragedy (read it for sure, but not until you’re ready). However, Lydia’s story is so much more than that of a love story cut short. Her story is about finding herself without Freddie and trying to look forward to tomorrow instead of spending all of her time thinking about the past.

From the book jacket

Lydia and Freddie. Freddie and Lydia. They’d been together for more than a decade and Lydia thought their love was indestructible. But she was wrong. On Lydia’s twenty-eighth birthday, Freddie died in a car accident.

So now it’s just Lydia, and all she wants is to hide indoors and sob until her eyes fall out. But Lydia knows that Freddie would want her to try to live fully, happily, even without him. So, enlisting the help of his best friend, Jonah, and her sister, Elle, she takes her first tentative steps into the world, open to life — and perhaps even love — again.

But then something inexplicable happens that gives her another chance at her old life with Freddie. A life where none of the tragic events of the past few months have happened.

If you enjoy…

If you fell in love with Silver’s writing, try her first book “One Day in December.” A woman and a man briefly see each other at a bus stop, igniting a complicated friendship and love triangle that spans years. Readers may also enjoy the tale of love and grief in Ronlyn Domingue’s “The Mercy of Thin Air.” Domingue’s novel spins the story of Razi, a young woman who tragically died in the midst of her grand love story, who chooses to live as a ghost as she narrates her life and that of the couple who purchased her beloved’s bookcase.