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Love for Lydia is almost inexplicably engrossing. The central character, Edward Richardson (Christopher Blake), is a young, would-be writer whose emotional immaturity and lack of worldly experience in the Roaring Twenties hamper his aspirations. Worse, he seems incapable of a selfless deed and at times is an outright brute, particularly toward women.
Edward's obsessive longing for the beautiful Lydia Aspen (Mel Martin), a once-sheltered heiress sent to live with two elderly aunts and a drunken uncle in Edward's small, English hometown, can be redundant and tedious. His childhood friends include the wealthy Alex (Jeremy Irons), a charming, even buoyant alcoholic whose vaguely incestuous bond with a youthful mother has made him an unrepentant heartbreaker. Both men grew up with sibling farmers Tom (Peter Davison) and Nancy (Sherrie Hewson) Holland, the former a naive pushover and the latter a country mouse bravely nursing an unrequited love for Edward. None of these characters is prepared for Lydia, a suggestively psychotic angel who plays each of them against the others in her bid for sexual independence and thrill-seeking.
It may be asking a lot to expect viewers to spend 13 near-hour-long episodes with these sometimes painfully unripened people (the series was originally broadcast in America on Masterpiece Theatre, in 1979). Yet Love for Lydia, based on a novel by H.E. Bates, is a compelling, unusually Darwinian drama about surviving a difficult transition into adulthood during heady times. Not everyone is going to come through, and those who do may or may not, for those keeping score, be the most cosmetically appealing or romantically deserving. (The series' very title, Love for Lydia, may evoke hearts and flowers, but in the context of the story it also suggests a syndrome of restless, compulsive self-interest, a shadowy period before one's facility to achieve an attainable destiny, at any cost, reveals itself.)
More than anything, performances make Love for Lydia eminently watchable, particularly Martin's difficult role as a complex siren and Irons's sharp, colorful work as a tragic, lovable rake. --Tom KeoghFrom the Back Cover:
Provincial heiress Lydia Aspen grows from bashful teen to wild jazz-age flapper while toying with the affections of a young writer and three other men who fall passionately in love with her. Loving the beautiful, brazen, impulsive Lydia is both dangerous and irresistible. A story of the joy and sorrow of young love that recreates late 1920s and early 1930s England in exquisite detail, Love for Lydia is based on the novel by H.E. Bates (My Uncle Silas). A PBS Masterpiece Theatre classic, the 13-part miniseries stars Mel Martin (Poldark, The Pallisers), Jeremy Irons (Brideshead Revisited), Christopher Blake (Brookside), and Peter Davison (Campion, All Creatures Great and Small). DVD SPECIAL FEATURES INCLUDE photo gallery, H.E. Bates biography and cast filmographies.
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