Taking a page straight out of Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway, Margaret Hawkins begins her third novel with the preparation for a dinner party. Each year, Lydia invites a group of friends over for a midwinter meal, where they devour food, sip wine and share secrets. Except this year, Lydia has the biggest secret of all. She has just been diagnosed with Stage 4 pancreatic cancer, and with only a few weeks to live, she has to share the devastating news so that she can properly say goodbye.

Each year, Lydia invites the same six women, no matter how close (or not close) they might be at the time. These include Maura, who has spent most of her life devoted to her and Lydia’s married boss; Elaine, who is bitter after having ended up alone; Celia, whose life primarily consists of waiting on her husband and teenage son; and Norris, whom Lydia continues to invite despite the fact that no one really likes her. Little do they know that this year a blizzard will force them together overnight and alter the course of their relationships.

Lydia’s Party ably addresses the question of what legacy we leave after we die. Lydia worries that she made the wrong choices: in the men she dated, the art she created and even the friendships she established. This novel is a tearjerker, but readers will find comfort in Hawkins’ sumptuous descriptions of the party preparations and the cozy winter setting. This thought-provoking new novel will please fans of authors like Elizabeth Berg—and provide plenty of fodder for book club discussion.

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