Andy's Reviews > Lady Chatterley's Lover

Lady Chatterley's Lover by D.H. Lawrence
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's review
Apr 28, 2012

it was ok
bookshelves: 2012
Read from April 06 to 28, 2012 — I own a copy

I have the Penguin '50th Anniversary edition' published in 2010, with the orange Penguin cover and a silhouette of a couple 'embracing' mimicking the original phoenix drawn by DHL himself (not on GRs at present). I say that as it also contains afterwords by Geoffrey Robertson QC discussing the legal case, and Steve Hare discussing the decision to publish by Penguin leading up to it all, along with a detailed time-line and facsimile copies of letters and communications relating to the trial (from Aldous Huxley, Kingsley Amis, EM Forster, to name a few). That was pretty much why I bought it, a nice little historical moment in literary history tied together in a compact book. My only experience of Lady Chatterley to date was the BBC version starring Joely Richardson which was broadcast at a formative moment in my youth. Boobs aside, I had little memory of it.

All of which is actually more entertaining than the book itself which I've been slowly reading for a few weeks (I'm having to do lots of reading for work/training at the moment, finding less enthusiasm for it once home).

The novel starts off promisingly but then sags for long stretches until the the affair starts proper. We then go back and forth between endless repetitive discussions on sex and class. The language is surprisingly coarse for a book of the era, though hardly shocking today and the sex is less titillating than mechanical. I found it rather male centric, seemingly trying to empower women but actually achieving the opposite (one of many entertaining incongruities - Mellors explaining his frustration with his wife because he couldn't make her come, doesn't really portray him in a great light). And Connie is just so insipid and stuck in her own head, constantly thinking about her current emotions rather than experiencing them. You want to give the spoilt rich daddy's girl a slap sometimes.

It's frequently dull, somewhat overwritten and occasionally veers off into vast sociological class-driven diatribes on the current state of our youth. I can see what he was getting at, it's just not that great.

The extra information at the end is much more entertaining, scathing about the prosecution for the obscenity case, often very funny in revealing the details of the trial and pretty hard on the book itself. The need to tackle the outdated obscenity law of the time was seen as an important event but the frustration that it had to occur 'with this book' in particular is pretty funny. So many other famous authors supported the trial but bemoaned the story.

With all that, I'm happy for it to maintain a place on my shelves, highlighting a vital point in literary and censorship history. I don't even mind it my wife or servants read it. I just wouldn't recommend it.
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