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BBC Radio 4, 26 March - 6 April 2012
 
In this novel Grazia Deledda traces the decline of the notable Pintor sisters Ruth (Kathryn Hunt), Ester (Deborah McAndrew) and Noemi (Charlotte Emmerson), who are reduced to selling produce from their Sardinian farm in the early 1900s.
 
As in Chekhov, Linda Marshall Griffiths' adaptation made much of the tensions in between the three sisters; their inability to come to terms with their altered social state, and their difficulties in concealing a family secret - the dishonour of their sister Lia (Holiday Granger) who ran away twenty-five years ago. Their plight has been made worse by the unexpected return of Lia's son, the nephew Giacinto (Matthew McNulty).
 
However there is more to this drama than meets the eye. The apparently faithful servant Efix (John Lynch) is the only one who knows why the family have been plunged into poverty: their father died in mysterious circumstances. He does not reveal the secret, but believes that the truth will out, despite his best attempts to conceal it. Efix is a great believer in fate; that human beings are at the mercy of an indifferent world of nature and/or spirits. On several occasions he speaks soliloquies direct to listeners, reflecting on human life as he sees it ("We are reeds, and fate is the wind.")
 
At a deeper level, Reeds in the Wind reflects on whether it is possible for individuals to control their destiny, or whether they can be blown away in the storm, just like reeds in the wind. On several occasions the dramatic action is briefly suspended, as the characters deliver interior monologues, comprised of short staccato statements direct to the listeners. Perhaps the only way they can escape their poverty is to appeal for divine guidance, but there is no guarantee that they will be listened to.
 
Despite its ontological reflections, Reeds in the Wind is also a rattlingly good listen, with confessions, revelations and consequences aplenty. I'll certainly make time to hear the last five installments. The director is Nadia Molinari.

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