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The Rainbow
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Monthly Book Reads > Rainbow, The - October 2017

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Kaycie | 455 comments Mod
Here is the thread for October 2017's Love read, The Rainbow!

I just read this book a few months ago, and LOVED it! I'll post my review in the comments.

Who all will be reading this month? I can't wait to see what everyone thinks!


Kaycie | 455 comments Mod
This was my review! Enjoy the read, guys!


Oh wow, what a book! What a writer!

The Rainbow is largely...or entirely...a character-driven novel, so if you don't like that, it might not be your cup of tea. There is a plot, but it is really there only to bring various emotions to the forefront. For me, it was brilliant, and I didn't want it to ever end.

This novel shines in its in-depth emotional characterization of its characters, and that's a hefty challenge with three generations of both men and women that are all vividly unique and beautifully portrayed. In reading Lady Chatterly, I felt like Lawrence wasn't really in the head of his female character, and I was very much aware throughout the entire novel that it was a man writing a women's inner-most thoughts. None of that, here, though. The women, especially Ursula (I'm not sure I've ever found a character in a novel that I've related to more...), are incredible, believable, and completely life-like. I stopped to re-read (ok, re-listen to, since it was an audiobook) an uncountable number of passage - stunned by how perfectly Lawrence captured a feeling, sensation, or experience.

Lawrence's prose is also poetic and just spot-on. He uses flowery and nature-filled descriptions to detail everything from a walk through a field to the most passionate love scene - which I would typically think was tedious and I something I would dislike, but I enjoyed every single word.

Though not for everyone, The Rainbow is truly a top read for me, and I can't recommend it more strongly to the poetically inclined or lovers of character-driven novels.

I'm just glad there is a sequel. :-)


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Haaze | 6 comments It seems like you fell in in love with this novel, Kaycie! :)


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Christopher (Donut) | 237 comments I think I tried this once and couldn't get into it, but since it is free for Kindle, I will give it another try.


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Haaze | 6 comments Christopher wrote: "I think I tried this once and couldn't get into it, but since it is free for Kindle, I will give it another try."

You should grab the Delphi collection, Chris! :)
https://smile.amazon.com/Collected-Wo...


Kaycie | 455 comments Mod
Haaze wrote: "It seems like you fell in in love with this novel, Kaycie! :)"

Very much! I obviously highly recommend the entire group try this one out this month! ;-)


Bryan--The Bee’s Knees (theindefatigablebertmcguinn) | 565 comments I plan on reading this this month, but it may be a few days before I get to it


Leslie | 825 comments I plan to read it, though Kaycie's description of it as character driven raises a red flag for me.


Kaycie | 455 comments Mod
Leslie - it is definitely character driven, but I still recommend giving it a shot, especially as you were going to anyways. These types of novels are always hugely hit or miss for me, and there are MANY that I don't like.


Leslie | 825 comments I started yesterday. I was immediately reminded of why I am not a DH Lawrence fan but will persevere...


Bryan--The Bee’s Knees (theindefatigablebertmcguinn) | 565 comments I've got such a backload, but I still plan on getting to this--though it's going to be a little while yet.

I don't know if I'm a Lawrence fan or not--I read Sons and Lovers a few years ago, and it just didn't do much for me. While reading, I tried to think of myself living in Lawrence's day--as a kind of novelist psychologist, he might have really awakened people to certain conditions about themselves that they didn't understand, but almost 100 years later, I wonder if we don't have a bit better understanding of human behavior, to the extent that not all of these things are quite the mystery they may once have been.

Not to say that we've got things figured out, but the idea that women might enjoy their own bodies, or that boys might have an attraction to their mothers doesn't seem as perceptive or shocking as it might once have.

But I'm making a lot of assumptions based on reading only one of his books--I'm kind of interested in reading this to see whether it substantially changes my impression of Lawrence.


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Christopher (Donut) | 237 comments I forgot we started this already.

Having put The Professor's House behind me, so to speak, I guess this is next.

My expectations are not high. That can lead to better appreciation sometimes.


Leslie | 825 comments Christopher wrote: "My expectations are not high. That can lead to better appreciation sometimes."

So true!

I don't want to discourage any of our members from reading this. But honestly, I dislike Lawrence's style & his characters' attitudes towards sex make me cringe. I am guessing but I think that he was one of the early "serious" authors who discussed sex in a (somewhat) forthright manner which made him controversial. In today's much more permissive culture, the sex is mild. But Brangwen makes me shudder with (view spoiler)


Kaycie | 455 comments Mod
Leslie - you are right about Lawrence, and he was known for that. It is one of the reasons Lady Chatterly was a banned book, as well.

I agree about Brangwen, and felt awful for Lydia throughout that part of this book.

I'm enjoying seeing what others thought about this book a lot! :-)


Leslie | 825 comments Now I am up to Anna's relationship with her husband - it is just as bad as Tom & Lydia's!

I found this on SparkNotes (they don't have a guide for this book but do have some other Lawrence books):

"David Herbert Lawrence was born on September 11, 1885, the product of an unhappy marriage between a coal-miner father and a schoolteacher mother. His birthplace, Eastwood, was a mining village in Nottinghamshire, the heart of England's industrial midlands. Lawrence became deeply attached to his mother, who was deeply committed to helping her children escape the working class.
...
While he shared the modernist belief that the postwar world was virtually bereft of meaningful values, Lawrence laid the blame at the doorstep of technology, the class system, and intellectual life. He believed that modern industry had deprived people of individuality, making them cogs in the industrial machine, a machine driven by greed. And modern intellectual life conspired with social constraint to bleed men dry of their vital, natural vigor. Lawrence wanted to revive in the human consciousness an awareness of savage sensuality, a sensuality which would free men from their dual enslavement to modern industry and intellectual emptiness. He was in many ways a primitivist: he saw little reason for optimism in modern society, and looked nostalgically backwards towards the days of pastoral, agricultural England."


This book certainly has "savage sensuality" but I don't see how it would make anyone happy!


Kaycie | 455 comments Mod
Yeahh...I had high hopes for Anna's relationship, but it also didn't go super well for her.

What do you think of the writing in this book? I was shocked at how much I enjoyed the flowery prose. I listened to this on audiobook, though, so maybe the poetic nature of the writing shined in audio.


Leslie | 825 comments Kaycie wrote: "Yeahh...I had high hopes for Anna's relationship, but it also didn't go super well for her.

What do you think of the writing in this book? I was shocked at how much I enjoyed the flowery prose. I ..."


Who was the narrator? I am also listening to an audiobook edition (and periodically looking at the text on my Kindle) I borrowed from Hoopla. It is narrated by Paul Slack.


Kaycie | 455 comments Mod
Mine was narrated by Wanda McCaddon. It was fantastic!


Leslie | 825 comments She is an excellent narrator - wish I had found that edition in my library! Though Slack is pretty good too.


Leslie | 825 comments So is anyone else reading this with me? I am about halfway now. I can only read about a chapter at a time so it will take me longer than normal to finish this!

But I have been highlighting passages (one of the bonuses of having a Kindle edition as well as the audiobook).


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Christopher (Donut) | 237 comments Leslie wrote: "So is anyone else reading this with me? I am about halfway now. I can only read about a chapter at a time so it will take me longer than normal to finish this!

But I have been highlighting passage..."


I love Kindle highlights too. I read the first chapter, and hope to get further along sometime.


Leslie | 825 comments Oh good. Glad you are joining in Christopher.


Bryan--The Bee’s Knees (theindefatigablebertmcguinn) | 565 comments I'm sorry guys--I will get on this quickly. I had good intentions, but I then I looked up and thought, 'jeez, where in hell am I'?


Bryan--The Bee’s Knees (theindefatigablebertmcguinn) | 565 comments Leslie wrote: "So is anyone else reading this with me? I am about halfway now. I can only read about a chapter at a time so it will take me longer than normal to finish this!

But I have been highlighting passage..."


What chapter are you on?


Bryan--The Bee’s Knees (theindefatigablebertmcguinn) | 565 comments The Modern Library edition that I have has an introduction by Keith Cushman. It talks about the course of the novel, but doesn't seem to be spoiler-ridden, and has actually raised my enthusiasm for reading this quite a bit. I especially liked the line, "As Lawrence perceives it, the problem of England as it enters a complicated new century is that English men are not strong enough to match English women."

There have been many times when I feel similar about America from the 1990s on. It's difficult to broach subjects like this sometimes in public forums--I've no desire to be inflammatory--but it seems to me that the qualities which I take to be part of being a man have slowly been replaced with a kind of vague 'guy-ness'. And I also think that American males have, for the most part, been complicit in this change--as if once the idea was broached that they would no longer be responsible in the degree that was expected of their fathers, they gladly retreated into boyishness.

Of course, all those impressions could just as easily be chalked up to my own curmudgeonly attitude. But even still--as the introduction talked about the relationship between men and women in the first decades of the 20th century, it sounded startlingly similar to our own. Cushman refers to it as one of the 'great English marriage novels', and I'm looking forward to getting started.


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Christopher (Donut) | 237 comments Bryan wrote: "The Modern Library edition that I have has an introduction by Keith Cushman. It talks about the course of the novel, but doesn't seem to be spoiler-ridden, and has actually raised my enthusiasm for..."

This does make the book sound more interesting. There is all that going on and on in the first part about how the men were content with the world as they found it, but the women looked to the clergy as a link to the world outside the 'shire.'

It was not at all clear why DHL started with all this background about a century before his 'story proper' begins.


Bryan--The Bee’s Knees (theindefatigablebertmcguinn) | 565 comments Christopher wrote: "It was not at all clear why DHL started with all this background about a century before his 'story proper' begins..."

I'm not far enough along yet to say--I only read chapter 1--but with that and the introduction, I'm guessing it has to do with rooting the beginning in the pre-Industrial Revolution to help emphasize the changes that came after. I can't really place the date yet--Lydia Lensky's backstory talks about revolution in Poland--I know there was one in the 1790's, but there may have been others later that the book is referring to. I think the marriage of Tom and Lydia is supposed to contrast to the experiences of their children as the world modernizes, and the relationships between men and women are affected.

I like this first chapter. Sometimes I think that heterosexual men's experiences as they mature are stereotyped in our culture and media as being uniform--that we single-mindedly pursue the objects of our desires, often in a foolish, caveman-like manner. I think there is actually a wide-range of reaction to this period in a man's life, and Lawrence does a good job at describing the uncertainty and fear that can be involved.


Bryan--The Bee’s Knees (theindefatigablebertmcguinn) | 565 comments I'm past chapter 2 now, and I'm enjoying it quite a bit--much more than I thought I would.

Kaycie, I was reading your comment above (#13), which I probably read when you first posted it, but it didn't make an impression since I hadn't read any of the book yet. I was wondering what part you were reading when you posted that--there are some hints of what you talk about up to chapter 2, but not what I would call excessive yet. I might change my mind as I read along.


Kaycie | 455 comments Mod
Bryan, I think you meant to refer to Leslie there, so I'll post this so she can answer for you! :-)

I LOVE that so many people are participating in a pretty rousing discussion of this novel.

I think that having the introduction mentioned would have also enhanced my reading of the book, but it is fun to look back now and see what is referring to. Without wanting to give away spoilers, I do think that Lydia and Brangwen's relationship is used as a sharp contrast to those of both their daughter and granddaughter, and I can REALLY see what the introduction was talking about (the men not being strong enough for the women) in the granddaughter's relationship. Fun little facts really bring things together there!


Bryan--The Bee’s Knees (theindefatigablebertmcguinn) | 565 comments Kaycie wrote: "Bryan, I think you meant to refer to Leslie there, so I'll post this so she can answer for you! :-)..."

Oops--You're right. I meant Leslie.

I did look up Wikipedia's entry on the book--it talks about the book spanning from the 1840's to the turn of the century. After some of the details in chapter two, I knew we were talking mid-century (trains, telegraph). Another thing I didn't know is that Women in Love is a sequel to this book


Leslie | 825 comments Bryan wrote: "What chapter are you on?..."

I just finished Chapter XI "First Love" today (it was a pretty long one!).

Bryan wrote: " I can't really place the date yet--Lydia Lensky's backstory talks about revolution in Poland--I know there was one in the 1790's, but there may have been others later that the book is referring to. I think the marriage of Tom and Lydia is supposed to contrast to the experiences of their children as the world modernizes, and the relationships between men and women are affected...."

In the chapter I just finished, the Boer War was just beginning (1899) and that is something like 35-40 years after the first chapter so I guestimate that the opening is set about 1860.


Leslie | 825 comments Bryan wrote: "I was reading your comment above (#13), which I probably read when you first posted it, but it didn't make an impression since I hadn't read any of the book yet. I was wondering what part you were reading when you posted that--there are some hints of what you talk about up to chapter 2, but not what I would call excessive yet. ..."

I was reading Chapt. 3 when I made that post. I felt that the way about Tom starting in Chap 1:
(view spoiler)


Bryan--The Bee’s Knees (theindefatigablebertmcguinn) | 565 comments There's no doubt that Tom is a complex character. Nor would I try to suggest that reading about his interior life is comfortable. But I do think that people's interior lives are mostly that way--hidden, fearful, often afraid that there's something wrong with their thinking because no one else is acting out in that manner. So there's this struggle to look like everyone else, to be normal, never suspecting that probably a good portion of the people around them are doing the same thing.

If we knew someone like Tom--but not any of his thoughts--there's a good chance we might think he's a hail-fellow-well-met; from the first two chapters, it sounds like he's fairly well liked by the people around him, runs a successful farm, and seems to adopt the girl Anna as if she were his own.

And Lydia is kind of the same--not knowing any of her interior thoughts, what would have been the picture of this woman? Different, I think, than the picture we have. One of the big points I think Lawrence is trying to make is how little these two people, Tom and Lydia, know one another; that they are, in fact, unfathomable to one another, even though their relationship is as close as they can be in the circumstances.

Well, I hope it didn't sound like I was trying to convince you of anything--just some of the things that are sticking out to me. I appreciate the comments everyone has left so far--it makes me think harder about what I'm reading


Bryan--The Bee’s Knees (theindefatigablebertmcguinn) | 565 comments Finished chapter 9:

I am really enjoying this one--far more than I expected to. I had an idea of what kind of writer Lawrence was--I'm happy to find there's more to him than I assumed.

I like the portrayals of the marriages. My opinion is that there are as many different kinds of marriages as there are marriages, but I think Lawrence taps into the difficulties of two people awakening to the reality of an 'otherness', of confronting the reality that there are other singular identities outside of themselves. His examination is unique to me in literature--I've read a lot of stuff about different relationships, but nothing that gets to it on this level.

If I have a critique, it's that I doubt very many people could articulate what they are thinking as well as Lawrence makes it seem these characters do, even as confused and chaotic as they are. I believe this is more often a subconscious battle, which only momentarily surfaces at a conscious level. But I don't know how else he could have presented it.

The victory (if one should call it that--maybe a Pyrrhic victory) that Anna has over her husband is the type of thing I think about when people claim that women had no power before modern times--I understand what they mean when they say this, and superficially, I agree with them. But on a personal level, I think there has always been this battle--as if when two people (especially young people, if my experiences have any value), when they first get together, nearly destroy one another before finding a way to live together. As in Anna's case, I think there have been plenty of cases where the women won that fight.

I also like how Lawrence shows that age tempers that fight--Tom and Lydia, and even Anna and Will are not the same as when they first got together. It seems very real to me, in a way I've not read before.


Leslie | 825 comments Bryan wrote: "Well, I hope it didn't sound like I was trying to convince you of anything--just some of the things that are sticking out to me. I appreciate the comments everyone has left so far--it makes me think harder about what I'm reading ..."

No, no -- I like hearing other perspectives! That is one reason I was hoping I wasn't the only reader this month.

I do appreciate the idea of, as you put it, "two people awakening to the reality of an 'otherness', of confronting the reality that there are other singular identities outside of themselves." I guess it is something about his style that rubs me the wrong way... that and the religious bits.


Bryan--The Bee’s Knees (theindefatigablebertmcguinn) | 565 comments Leslie wrote: "I guess it is something about his style that rubs me the wrong way..."

There is that--I find it sort of hard to find a handle on it sometimes. It's like there pages and pages of words, but it can be hard to extract an exact meaning from them.

I've never read Lady Chatterley, but I know one of the big objections was Lawrence's plain-speaking. Maybe he got tired of trying to be euphemistic and wanted to just come out and say what he thought. I may never know--Lady Chatterley is one of those books I've never really had much interest in--I may have to wait until it comes up here for the monthly read before I ever get around to it.


Bryan--The Bee’s Knees (theindefatigablebertmcguinn) | 565 comments I just finished chapter 11. I don't think I've ever read anything quite like this before--I'd be lying if I said I understood everything Lawrence was trying to get at, but what comes across so strongly is the inner turmoil his characters are feeling as they are awakening to their own selves. I said before--I doubt people are this articulate (even as cloudy as Lawrence is) as they are experiencing these things...I doubt there are even words that can really express these inner drives and emotions. But I think Lawrence does get the gist of it, in a way that can be communicated to the reader.

I wonder about this period, as people went through this maturation process--one of the things I pick up on is how strange it all was to them, how foreign. Today, I think we have all these cultural references to fall back on--television, movies, glamour magazines, lad magazines, the internet--and so when we are confronted by situations that we are unused to, I think we have this whole world to reference, to search out what we should be feeling, as explained to us by this media. The problem is is that this world of reference is so superficial, so startlingly incomplete, but it appears to the fresh mind as a kind of wisdom. Ursula, and Anna before her, had no real guidance other than the people they could directly observe--they were left to discover themselves on their own, and I can only imagine, but what a battle that must have been! I myself distinctly remember times when I've drawn on our cultural icons for some kind of guide to behavior--maybe the difference between our time and Lawrence's is a subtle one...maybe there is no difference--I'm sure they had their own icons to guide them. But it certainly seems like the journey would have been more difficult and more personal. More individual.

I'm curious, what do the women who are reading the book think of Lawrence's female characters?


Leslie | 825 comments I am in the middle of Ursula's struggle to be independent -- that seems a little dated but very true.

Anna I find now a bit disgusting with her constant pregnancies. But she has fallen into the background now.


Kirsten  (kmcripn) I've read the first quarter of this book and the descriptions of Tom and Lydia is quite tense. It seems like both Tom and Lydia are very passive aggressive.

I am really enjoying it. Not quite as much as Lady Chatterley so far, but we'll see.


Bryan--The Bee’s Knees (theindefatigablebertmcguinn) | 565 comments Finished this one this evening. I thought it was just excellent. Not a book to read for entertainment so much as an eye-opening look into the world. I really enjoyed it


Leslie | 825 comments I have finished as well. It just wasn't for me...


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