One-Minute Book Reviews

October 23, 2007

D.H. Lawrence’s ‘Sons and Lovers’ (Books I Didn’t Finish)

The latest in an occasional series of posts on books I didn’t finish and why I didn’t finish them

Title: Sons and Lovers

What it is: The second novel by the English novelist D. H. Lawrence (1885–1930), best known for the much-banned Lady Chatterley’s Lover.

How much I read: The foreword, first chapter and part of the second, about 50 pages in the edition I read (not shown at right).

Why I stopped reading: The Tribe couldn’t lock up the American League pennant in the fourth game, so I had to watch the fifth on Sunday night, when I had planned to read more of the book. Then life intervened and I couldn’t get back to the novel in time to finish it for a book group I was supposed to go to tonight. Good-bye, book group meeting.

Comments: The pages that I read involve the early married life of the Gertrude and Walter Morel, as mismatched as Emma and Charles Bovary. Gertrude — well-bred, intelligent, and endowed with a high moral sensibility — chafes against the limits of her life as the wife of a good-hearted coal miner of little income and less refinement. Some critics have said that Lawrence portrays women too harshly. But his treatment of Gertrude’s frustrations in these pages was poignant. Lawrence deals much more directly than many of his contemporaries with the frighteningly rapid loss of self that women of his day risked when they married.

Best line in what I read: On the married life of young Gertrude Morel: “She went indoors, wondering if things were going to alter. She was beginning to realize that they would not. She seemed so far away from her girlhood, she wondered if it were the same person walking heavily up the back garden at Bottoms, as had run so lightly on the breakwater at Sheerness, ten years earlier.

“ ‘What have I to do with it!’ she said to herself. ‘What have I do with all this. Even the child I am going to have! It doesn’t seem as if I were taken into account.’

“Sometimes life takes hold of one, carries the body along, takes hold of one’s history, and yet is not real, but leaves one’s self as it were slurred over.”

Worst line in what I read: “ … and on a newspaper spread out upon the hearth rug, a myriad of crescent-shaped curls …”

Furthermore: The Reader’s Catalog (Jason Epstein, 1989) gives this one-line summary of Sons and Lovers: “The talents of a sensitive young man are liberated from a coal-mining background by an intelligent but dominating mother.”

Published: 1913 (first edition)


© 2007 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.

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