For my second book of Banned Books Week, I chose Lady Chatterley’s Lover by D.H. Lawrence.
The problem with choosing books by literary giants like D.H. Lawrence is it’s really hard to write a review that isn’t 100% positive. Frankly, Lady Chatterley’s Lover was not my cup of tea. But I’m especially glad I read it in honor of Banned Books Week, because even though I didn’t enjoy it, I’m so glad I had to opportunity to read it and decide for myself. That right is huge to me, so I’m excited that even though it’s not a completely positive review, I’m able to read what I like!
Maybe my first issue with the book is I was expecting a love story (lover is a pretty big piece of the title, after all). But what I got was a sex story, and a not very sexy one at that. A lot of the language choice and prose was awkward and forced, and the characters weren’t well developed, making the relationship between Lady Chatterley and the groundskeeper forbidden, but not that exciting.
The story follows Constance Chatterley, who has married a man shortly before he is paralyzed in World War I and becomes confined to a wheel chair. Lawrence explores the experience of being trapped by a marriage to a man Constance grows to hate, despite retaining some loyalty to, and being trapped on an estate that is neither beautiful or rich in opportunities for diversion. Constance feels like she’s drowning, and for the most part, is a deeply unhappy character. However, we don’t know much more about her than that. We know little more about her husband, other than he’s rather pompous and boring. And we know even less about the groundskeeper she falls in love with, besides the fact that he’s stoic and somewhat harsh. The plot has a lot of opportunity for a really engrossing tale, but without the stylish prose and character development, I was left book that felt flat, boring, and I’m fairly positive I grimaced through most of the sex scenes. (Note: most of the book is sex scenes.)
Call me crazy, but a novel involving characters that refer to their genitalia as “Lady Jane” and “John Thomas” and frequently talk about the “marriage” of the two is just plain weird.
The book wasn’t my favorite, so I’m giving it one star, but I haven’t completely given up on D.H. Lawrence yet. I’m looking forward to reading Sons and Lovers at some point in the future. Hopefully I’ll be more impressed!