Lady Chatterley’s Lover by D.H. Lawrence
Published first in 1928 in Italy, this book wasn’t published in the U.K. until 1960 (I would assume it was published around then in the U.S. as well). It took me a few weeks to read it, and it’s another example of how it just takes time to fall into the rhythms and patterns of the book, but it’s just so flippin’ beautiful.
Connie, the daughter of the upper-middle class intelligentsia, goes through her youth sure that art and politics are the end-all and be-all; she and her sister use their sex to manipulate men, but keep them at arm’s length. The connection is mental; physical connection is power, and Connie and her sister know how to use it.
Connie marries Clifford Chatterley, who sadly comes back from the war paralyzed from the waist down; this doesn’t do good things for them in the bedroom. Connie is bored; she and Clifford are not cut from the same bolt of cloth, and it shows. Their views on the changing social and economic climate of England don’t align, especially when it comes to what should be done with the failing coal mine at Wragby, their country home. The relationship between the two is disjointed and limited by their lack of emotional, intellectual, and sexual connections, and so Connie takes a lover.
Oliver Mellors is the Chatterley’s gamekeeper; he and Connie find their connection, but at a cost- he was sure that he would never be able to find physical satisfaction with a woman again after his ex-wife tormented him and she thought that physical connections were worthless. Clearly the point of the book is that they are both wrong.
There are about a thousand more details to this book, but that’s kind of sort of the general gist of it. Connie needs more than intellectual stimulation to be happy; she has to be connected physically as well.
I really loved this book; the blush count wasn’t as high as it was when I read Fanny Hill (or Fifty Shades!), which was nice, but it’s very obvious why it was so controversial when it was published. Definitely some unprintable words; and we dare to suggest that relationships might be more than intellectual! Heavens!
Is this a romance novel? No. I don’t really think so. Romance novels have a hero, a heroine, a problem, a solution, and sexytimes. This book has more- it’s a commentary on the changing structure of England, it’s a commentary on what is love (baby don’t hurt me), it’s a commentary on how money changes people and how they interact and what a fustercluck that can be. It’s a commentary on sex and it’s role in the world, which is clearly ALWAYS a giant mess. It’s a commentary on communism even.
I highly recommend this book; it’s terribly romantic and the words are beautiful and if I ever got a card with a bit of Lady Chatterley’s Lover written inside I’d be very impressed. Go read it!
Some of my favorite quotes:
Sex and a cocktail: they both lasted about as long, had the same effect, and amounted to about the same thing.
But it was a truth that killed.
At the top of the hill they rested, and Connie was glad to let go. She had had fugitive dreams of friendship between these two men: one her husband, the other the father of her child. Now she saw the screaming absurdity of her dreams. The two males were as hostile as fire and water. They mutually exterminated one another. And she realized for the first time what a queer subtle thing hate is.
(sorry I don’t have any page numbers; my kindle copy only gives me locations)