(Critical Guide to British Fiction)

Love for Lydia is the story of the youngest member of an aristocratic family, Lydia Aspen, and the young men from the small English town of Evensford who fall in love with her. In almost every case, the results are tragic, but the passage of time produces some maturation, and the conclusion holds a promise of future happiness.

The protagonist and narrator is a young reporter who dislikes his job on the local newspaper. He meets the shy, nineteen-year-old Lydia when his boss sends him to unearth a story following the death of one of the elder members of the Aspen family. The two elderly Aspen sisters, Juliana and Bertie, are anxious to ensure that their young niece meets some people of her own age, and they encourage Richardson to take Lydia skating. Lydia quickly emerges from her shyness, and they skate regularly all winter. Richardson falls completely in love with her, and by the summer, the two young people have become lovers; the depth and permanence of Lydia’s affections, however, are not so clearly established.

In the second part of the novel, their horizons expand. At the instigation of the aunts, Richardson invites several of his friends to accompany him and Lydia to a dance: Alex Sanderson, Alex’s mother, Tom Holland, who is a farmer’s boy, and his sister, Nancy. Throughout the autumn and winter, they form a happy little group, dancing regularly, with Lydia’s youthful beauty and engaging innocence as the center of interest—but the tranquillity does not last for long. Alex falls in love with her and becomes jealous of the attention that he thinks she is paying to Blackie Johnson, a young, aggressive, and surly mechanic, who drives them to the dances in their rented car. The tension between Alex and Blackie erupts into violence at a village dance, and they fight.

In the meantime, Richardson becomes jealous when he realizes that he no longer has...

(The entire section is 781 words.)


(Critical Guide to British Fiction)

Atlantic Monthly. Review. CXCI (February, 1953), p. 83.

Cahoon, Herbert. Review in Library Journal. LXXVIII (January 1, 1953), p. 53.

Morgan, Constance. Review in Saturday Review. XXXVI (January 17, 1953), p. 14.

Sullivan, Richard. Review in The New York Times. XXX (January 18, 1953), p. 5.

Vanatta, Dennis. H. E. Bates, 1983.