Love for Lydia by H. E. Bates, adapted by Vivienne Allen

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BBC Radio 7, 17-24 January 2010
Producer Tracey Neale approached H. E. Bates' tale as a rite-of-passage melodrama; the story of a young journalist Tom Richardson falling in love with the eponymous central character (Juliet Aubrey) who is not only sexually attractive but has A Past. The tale follows a familiar trajectory, with Tom being hopelessly in love yet jealous of Lydia's wilfulness, as she seems to ignore his entreaties and branch out on her own. However Neale sustained our interest by telling the story against the background of the passage of the seasons: the love affair bloomed in spring and withered in autumn. This suggested that the characters were somehow not in control of their own destinies as they fell randomnly in and out of love.
The action was recounted from the perspective of the now-ageing Tom (Tim Pigott-Smith) who looked back on his youthful exploits with a mixture of regret and relief. While the experience of falling in love with Lydia was certainly an intense one, it rendered him incapable of logical thought. Now he had matured (and perhaps become wiser), he could reflect on the mistakes he had made in the past - for example, having a relationship that frustrated all the expectations of his social class. On the other hand, however, the older Richardson also berated himself for his lack of engagement - despite his obvious attraction for Lydia, he never actually fought to keep her. Now all he could do was to comfort himself with past memories, and how they were ultimately swamped by "bitter surges of eternal powers." Ultimately we were left uncertain as to whether to sympathize or criticize Richardson for what he had done. Perhaps all we could be certain of was that love was both painful and pleaurable.