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Love for Lydia

3.86  ·  Rating details ·  546 ratings  ·  70 reviews
Lydia - shy, sheltered, beautiful and just 19 - glides into Evensford one wintry day, stirring up feeling amongst the town's young men. But it is the young Mr Richardson that she befriends. As winter turns to drowsy summer, his world becomes a wondrous place, full only of Lydia; but a change comes over the once retiring girl as she discovers the effect she has on other men ...more
ebook, 300 pages
Published May 12th 2016 by Bloomsbury Reader (first published 1952)
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Average rating 3.86  · 
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May 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Lovers of great prose. Gatsby fans

A glorious, slowly evolving story told by a young man about his dull, drab industrial village of leather tanneries and the changes to his life when he meets Lydia Aspen. Richardson (the only name we know him by) and Lydia are both nineteen, innocent children by today’s teen-aged standards. Apparently orphaned, she has been brought to live with her two elderly aunts, the aristocratic Aspen sisters, and their unsavoury brother, in their imposing house surrounded by expanses of land and avenues o
Apr 05, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
He said Evensford wasn’t a bad town, either, and asked me if I should miss it? Stars shone over rows of grey packed roofs with crisp autumnal brilliance and I said, ‘Yes, I suppose so,’ and a whole piece of my life seemed suddenly to go dead behind me and break away. -H. E. Bates, Love for Lydia

Not long after the death of H. E. Bates (in 1974), several of his books were adapted for television, bringing renewed interest in the work of this extremely prolific English writer. One such adaptation w
Carol Storm
Feb 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
LOVE FOR LYDIA is the sexy, sophisticated story of the dizzy and exciting but also rather empty lifestyle of English society people during the wild Twenties decade. The central character, Lydia, is a beautiful but rather shy girl at first. Then she inherits a great deal of money and begins to realize that she is a very desirable catch -- and that men will let her get away with almost anything!

The one man who truly loves Lydia is Richardson, a would-be writer from a rather poor and humble local f
Meg (fairy.bookmother)
May 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: arc-netgalley
You know how Fitzgerald's writing sounds like neon lights and champagne jazz? Transpose that to the English countryside with pops of flowers and you have H.E. Bates.

Thank you to Bloomsbury and Netgalley for the review copy!
Feb 20, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: middlebrow
A thoughtful coming of age story.
What a wonderfully satisfying story.

I have not finished a book this quickly in a long time.

Love For Lydia is a vicarious whirlwind of affairs between the unconventional and extraordinary Lydia and her growing group of village boy admirers, lived and told by our narrator and Lydia's long-time lover, the patient yet afflicted young Mr Richardson.

Lydia needs attention, Lydia needs company and she collects men like daisies on a chain: first Richardson, then Alex, then Tom and then Blackie.

So the
Jul 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
After planning to read this book for decades, I finally got to it. It's so beautifully told and completely put me in another place and time. The young narrator Richardson expresses the pain and beauty of love, loss, and growing up in such an eloquent and moving manner. This one will go down as a favorite, and is worthy of a re-read. I loved it. ...more
Jan 12, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Laura by: Bettie
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Amber Wilkinson
Feb 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-i-own
This has to be one of the best books I have read in a long time, or possibly ever. It is completely beautiful, showcasing the highs and lows of young people in love. Bates' intricate descriptions of surroundings and of inner thoughts reflect the genius of Austen herself. A perfect read for the hopeless romantics, the reader will feel the pure joy as well as the pain of Edward and his experiences in growing up. ...more
Donna Davis
HE Bates wrote before, during, and after World War II. Many readers came to his work after seeing a televised version of it on Masterpiece Theater. It was different for me. I am fond of excellent fiction, military history, and short stories, and when I cruised Net Galley and found The Flying Officer X and Other Stories, I took a chance and scored a copy. Once I had read those, I knew I would want to read more of his work when I could. So although I came to this outstanding novel in a different w ...more
Apr 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Lydia arrived an awkward girl, bloomed into an attractive woman, discovered men liked her, and gaily left a wake of bodies in her path. When she saw what she had accomplished she tried to burn herself out in a two year binge of dancing and drink and ended up desperately lonely and guilty in a sanitarium.

Some might believe Lydia was a tease and vixen, partying her way into destruction. Others may feel she was a girl-child who, when released from the 'cotton-wool' prison of her girlhood, mishandl
Jeannie Zelos
Love for Lydia,  H. E. Bates
Review from Jeannie Zelos book reviews

Genre:  Literary Fiction, General Fiction (Adult)
I’m an avid reader, always have been and occasionally I feel pangs of conscience for not having read a “classic” book, one it seems everyone has read and loved.
This book is one of those, I thought it was time to extend my reading, try something different. Sadly its one of those that others love but leave me cold.

I found it long winded and dreary, and so many times I was just wai
Robert Parkhouse
This novel is set during the post war years of the 1920s, amid rural Northamptonshire in the rapidly expanding town of Evensford. The narrator, a Mr Richardson, in the first flush of adulthood, finds that his love of the countryside is soon surpassed by an ever-growing affection for Lydia, the youngest member of a local aristocratic family. When you are young and in love, life should be carefree and enchanting, but a feeling of unease is never far from the narrator's thoughts. The newly industr ...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this book. It was beautifully written with detailed descriptions of the people and the places of Evensford. The best part of the book for me was the main character, Richardson. I love when a character is fully developed and we see the good and the bad, and we find both in Richardson as he deals with his love for Lydia.

The book gives a great look into the lives of young people trying to find their way in the world, dealing with first loves and loves lost. It shows these character
D.K. Powell
H. E. Bates is a deceptive writer. He wouldn't, I should think, have known this at the time when he was writing his classic stories back in the 50s; but reading his works today takes some careful work.

This is because books such as 'Love for Lydia' or 'The Darling Buds of May' are very beautiful, often very sweet stories on a gloriously rich England and with a great love of ordinary English folk. To be sure, 'Love for Lydia' is a tragedy and there's a great deal of hobnobbing of the educated and
Jan Norris
Nov 15, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a beautifully written classic British novel set in the 1920’s English countryside. It is descriptive, slow moving, and quaint. If that sounds boring to you, it probably would be. I enjoyed it.
Mar 12, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 12, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
'I felt I had made the impossible mistake of thinking that one of the virtues of love was permanence' (Penguin, 1974, p.188).

Bates's tale of the harsh penalties of early love and generous youthful hope is a bitter-sweet salutation to the irrepressible optimism of falling in love and being dashed against the indifferent rocks, like a merciless sea of emotion. He evokes that pleasure-pain principle that first love brings most of us, bedded in a story of real living characters against the inter-war
Apr 06, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When Lydia Aspen is sent into the care of her reclusive aunts in the “big house” in rural Evensford, they are concerned to ensure that she isn’t isolated from other young people and ask a local newspaper reporter to look after her and take her out and about. This he does with pleasure, but looking after Lydia turns out to be a far more complicated business than anyone could have imagined. This is a really charming and engaging tale, beautifully written, very evocative of its time and place, and ...more
Dec 29, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
If I were British and wrote The Great Gatsby, it probably would've turned out like this. Though the tale of obsessive love for an almost hypnotically enchanting young woman certainly struck a common chord with me, the writing was so utterly mediocre I could never quite get engaged in the narrative. A good story, just not a very good book.
Most of the books I've read in this series (Marshall Cavendish's Great Writers Library)have either been superb or have been a torture to read. This was neither;
Robert Day
Nov 17, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
TV Series when I was a kid - but before that, there was this! Picture of the actress on the cover of the book reminds me of part of why I used to watch the series (you figure it out), so I was able to visualise her as I read the book and it translated to an enjoyable experience.
You might think that this should be a review of the book rather than a review of me (and we may well differ in that respect), but to assuage your misgivings: it's a nice little story, well written, with a satisfying endin
E.J. Cullen
Lots of good prose with a plethora of flowers, shrubs, youthful angst, and soap opera simplicity, but keeps you reading until the last few pages where an interesting nineteenth century sensibility meets Hollywood ending. These two main young characters seem to have expended a lifetime in a few years, then set off together for what can only be imagined as mismatched misery except by the most Pollyanish reader.
Love for Lydia by H.E. Bates is a free NetGalley ebook re-release of a book originally written in 1952 that I read in early May.

Not knowing that this is a classic book, I went into this book blindly, which seemed to make me all the more sensitive to its harsh, plosive syllable prose and almost Gatsby & Daisy dysfunctional, give & take dialogue. Classic though it may be, it wasn't a driving story to me, nor very interesting.
Anna at A Wondrous Bookshelf
May 15, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley, arc, romance
Love for Lydia was first published in 1952 and it is still an extremely poignant novel. This is by far one of the greatest love stories of the twentieth century. It is a beautifully written, classic love story. The prose is exquisite and the descriptions of the outdoors and countryside scenery are a delight. I’m very glad a gave this novel a chance. A timeless, steamy love story that I highly recommend.
May 20, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Love for Lydia is a story narrated by Mr. Richardson who is one of Lydia's love interest. Lydia Aspen arrives in Evensford an insecure young girl and develops into a seductive young woman where the men in her life adore her. She starts to realize the effect she has on certain men and uses it to her advantage. In the end all she wants is to be loved and life can be cruel at times with the hand it deals you. Mr. Richardson tells you how she affected his life and others around her. A good read. ...more
Oct 23, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: epic
There was some song I loved that was apparently inspired by this, or it was the author's favourite book, or something? I have no idea anymore! But anyway, I was 14 and decided to read the book. Maybe it was a bit old for me, but I did still quite enjoy it and managed to finish it.

(ETA: Oh wow, I found the song!)
Apr 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is probably my favourite all time book. I've re-read it many times. I love the descriptions of love and winter and of great beauty in a small town. Still do not actually own a copy as lent mine out and never got it back. A stunning tale of great charisma in a small town pre-internet, and of great sorrows and loss as well as true love and loyalty. ...more
Kathleen Gray
May 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Beautifully written classic. It's nice to see a novel like this reissued. The story remains timeless. Lydia is engaging, the descriptions of the countryside are lovely, and the plot has enough zing to keep you reading. Try this one if you enjoy British novels set between the wars. THanks to Netgalley for the ARC. ...more
Jan 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Exquisite writing. This was the first H. E. Bates book I've ever read despite my preference for English literature. It was a gross oversight on my part. Bates' characters are fully realized and indelibly drawn. His love of the natural world brings great richness to the writing. In my way of looking at things he is the heir to Thomas Hardy. Can't wait to read another Bates novel. ...more
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Herbert Ernest Bates, CBE is widely recognised as one of the finest short story writers of his generation, with more than 20 story collections published in his lifetime. It should not be overlooked, however, that he also wrote some outstanding novels, starting with The Two Sisters through to A Moment in Time, with such works as Love For Lydia, Fair Stood the Wind for France and The Scarlet Sword e ...more

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Happy Women's History Month! One of the undisputedly good things about modern scholarship is that women’s history is finally getting its due....
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“But I drew the line, one evening, at Jerry O'Keefe's, the fish-shop where people crammed in late for hot plates of peas and chips and yellow-battered fish, in a kind of boiler house of steaming fat, after the last cinema show or the old theatre.
'But why?' she said. 'Why? It looks fun in there.'
I said I did not think it the place for her, and she said:
'You talk like a parson or something. You talk just like old Miss Crouch.'
'I'm not taking you,' I said.
'Why? If it's good enough for these people it's good enough for us, isn't it?'
'That's because you're really an awful snob,' she said. 'You're too uppish to be seen in there.'
'It's not myself,' I said. 'It's you.'
'Are you going to take me or aren't you?' she said.
'No,' I said. 'I'm not.'
She turned and walked down the street. I stood for a moment alone, stubbornly, watching her swinging away into darkness out of the steamy, glowing gas-light. Then I had a moment of sickness when I felt she was walking out of my life, that I had given her impossible offence and that I should never see her again.
'Wait,' I said, 'wait. Don't go like that. I'll take you.”
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