In Alison Downs’s novel Ladybird Adrift, Claudia “Ladybird” Johnson and Victor Raines fall in love in a way that is completely unexpected. A job at the Metropolitan Museum of Art finally comes to Claudia as an unskilled worker after a lengthy search. It’s only fitting that she sits next to Victor after winning a raffle at work. While they have a rocky start, their relationship blossoms into a loving romance and eventually marriage. Once Victor learns he has a degenerative disease, the story switches to Claudia’s love for him rather than Victor’s love for her. There are times in this novel when you feel like you’re right there with Claudia as she struggles to make the decisions Victor needs to be successful. The author has an amazing talent for bringing her characters to life.
When Alison Downs takes a detour from her usual genre, her readers are taken aback. It’s a book that entices you with characters who have the same hopes, fears, and dreams as you, only to gradually take away the familiar. Victor’s disease progresses over the course of the story, but the reader gets the impression that there was never enough time. You’ll find yourself rooting for the characters, shedding tears over unfulfilled dreams, and feeling grateful that you got to be a part of their journey in this engrossing novel. The events that shaped their lives and decisions are not given in precise time and year, but the story focuses on the events that shaped their lives. After reading this book, I gained a new respect for those who care for those with deteriorating health conditions.
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