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Licence to Deviate

Starting a new job is not the time to show your wacky side  – unless of course it is the type of job where wackiness is revered. First you need to build up a reputation of respect. This will then give you ‘idiosyncracy credit’ (Hollander, 1958) and ‘licence to deviate’ from the normal expected path.


Meeting Lydia – Questions for Discussion

Meeting Lydia is Linda MacDonald’s first published novel, telling the story of early life bullying, midlife crises and internet relationships from the perspective of a woman in turmoil.


  1. The novel opens with the sentence, ‘Marianne Hayward spent the first seven years of her education at a boys’ prep school.’ How important was this experience in Marianne’s life?
  2. Is Marianne’s treatment of Johnny justified?
  3. What purpose is served by the scenes where Marianne is teaching her students?
  4. Marianne tells her students, ‘We self-censor emails…’ To what extent is this true of her? In what ways is Edward Harvey’s email persona consistent with the child at school?
  5. What do you think is Edward’s opinion of Marianne? What evidence do you have for this?
  6. Although written only from Marianne’s point of view, it could be argued that Johnny is also going through a midlife crisis. What evidence is there for this?
  7. A famous work of literature features in Marianne’s childhood at school. There are several parallels with this in the novel. If you are familiar with the work, how many of these did you spot?
  8. Marianne says that names are very important (p163). Do you agree with this idea? How is this demonstrated in the novel?
  9. What purpose is served by the chapter entitled ‘2000 Years hence’? Would you have chosen a different ending for the novel and if so what and why?
  10. Marianne finds forgiveness difficult. What evidence is there for this in Meeting Lydia?
  11. What do you think are Marianne’s true feelings for Edward? What evidence do you have for your conclusions?
  12. What are your favourite passages from the book and why?





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