Today, I’m delighted to welcome Linda MacDonald as my guest on Being Anne: Linda is a former psychology teacher who is now focusing her energies on writing contemporary relationship fiction. Her latest book, The Man in the Needlecord Jacket was released for kindle on 24th March through Matador, with the paperback to follow on 28th May.
The Man in the Needlecord Jacket follows the story of two women who are each struggling to let go of a long-term destructive partnership. Felicity is reluctant to detach from her estranged archaeologist husband and, after being banished from the family home, she sets out to test the stability of his relationship with his new love, Marianne. When Felicity meets Coll, a charismatic artist, she has high hopes of being distracted from her failed marriage. What she doesn’t know is that he has a partner, Sarah, with whom he has planned a future. Sarah is deeply in love with Coll, but his controlling behaviour and associations with other women have always made her life difficult. When he becomes obsessed with Felicity, Sarah’s world collapses and a series of events is set in motion that will challenge the integrity of all the characters involved.
The Man in the Needlecord Jacket is a thought-provoking book, written from the perspectives of Sarah and Felicity. The reader is in the privileged position of knowing what’s going on for both of the women, while each of them is being kept in the dark about a very important issue. Inspired by the work of Margaret Atwood and Fay Weldon, Linda explores the issue of mental abuse in partnerships and the grey area of an infidelity that is emotional, not physical. The book will appeal to readers interested in the psychology of relationships, as well as fans of Linda’s ‘Lydia’ series.
Linda’s post today was inspired by a recent feature on BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour: to take – or not to take – a second chance of love…
There has been a boom in older people getting married. According to the Office of National Statistics, this is particularly so in the over 65s, with a 56% jump in women and a 41% jump in men. So why might this be?
Once it was mostly only the seriously failing marriages that ended in divorce, but now some people are separating when their relationship is no longer emotionally fulfilling or life-improving. On a recent Woman’s Hour, Jaqui Gabb, Professor of Sociology and Intimacy at the OU, said the older generation are looking for some life enhancement after the children leave home and some believe this may be achieved in a new partnership. Relate counsellor Clare Prendergast elaborated that if people are uncertain whether or not to leave an existing and unfulfilling relationship, the knowledge that people are finding happiness with someone new encourages them to jump.
The more people break away for these reasons, the more socially acceptable it becomes and the trend gathers momentum. The world of online dating has opened up a new way to meet people, and where once people would have settled for mediocrity for fear of being left alone, it is now clear that other options may not be so difficult to attain.
Many say that getting together for enrichment of life is more important than financial stability and new midlife relationships don’t necessarily have to take the traditional route to marriage. There are now numerous forms of partnership for people to choose from in later life, some of which are outlined in this excellent article from the Fab After Fifty website.
However, it cannot be denied that a dual income helps with the standard of living – especially in the south-east and other property hotspots where going it alone may be economically difficult. This reason may account for at least a proportion of the increase in marriage statistics. But with marriage comes greater risk.
While some may rush into a new relationship because, ‘time is short’, others play the long game and take the cautious route, careful not to rush into something new before they have taken stock of the old. In the case of bereavement, waiting until the grieving process has been worked through is the advice offered by Relate. In the case of relationship breakdown, they recommend identifying the issues that caused the problem and addressing any factors that may lead to a repeat pattern. Relate suggest discussing these with a professional.
Grown-up children from the previous marriage may also be a problem. All parents would like to think their kids would be magnanimous and approving of their search for happiness, but while many offspring see it as adding family value, some are obstructive, concerned for the welfare of their parent who may have been previously hurt, or worried about their own inheritance. Unequal financial input from each of the new partners may lead to disquiet. However, most of these concerns may be alleviated somewhat by forward planning with the help of a solicitor.
In my 2014 novel The Alone Alternative, I considered all of these issues regarding starting a new relationship in midlife. Edward and Marianne have each lost a long-term partner for different reasons, but the path to them getting together is fraught with difficulty as they each weigh up the pros and cons and wonder whether being alone might be preferable. I was amused when one reviewer suggested that the characters took a long time in making up their minds. That’s often the way it is. And in any case, if they had rushed into a union, there would have been no book.
With the increase in life expectancy and the raising of the pension age, more people are likely to reconsider their options for life after kids. It is therefore probable that marriage statistics in the older age group will continue to rise for the foreseeable future.
Fascinating, Linda – and thank you! The Alone Alternative is available in paperback and as an eBook. The eBook is currently on Amazon at a reduced promotional price of £1.99, ahead of the release of Book 4 in the Lydia series.
About the author
Linda MacDonald is the author of three previous novels: Meeting Lydia and the stand-alone sequels, A Meeting of a Different Kind and The Alone Alternative. Her fourth novel, The Man in the Needlecord Jacket, continues the series, but also stands alone. All Linda’s books are contemporary adult fiction, multi-themed, but with a focus on relationship issues.
After studying psychology at Goldsmiths’, Linda trained as a secondary science and biology teacher. She taught these subjects for several years before moving to a sixth-form college to teach psychology. The first two novels took ten years in writing and publishing, using snatched moments in the evenings, weekends and holidays. In 2012, she gave up teaching to focus fully on writing.
Linda was born and brought up in Cockermouth, Cumbria and now lives in Beckenham in Kent.