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Lady Chatterley's Lover
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Group Reads Archive > February 2015- Lady Chatterley's Lover by DH Lawrence

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Jennifer W | 1002 comments Mod
Welcome to February's group read of Lady Chatterley's Lover by D.H. Lawrence.


Jennifer W | 1002 comments Mod
I've stalled a bit in my reading of this, but not for lack of enjoyment. I'm about 1/4 of the way through and really liking it. I actually didn't realize this book was written as late as it was. I assumed it was written in the late 1800s. Because I didn't know that, I wasn't aware that it dealt with a character injured by WWI. So far, I'm not sure what to think of Mr. Chatterley. I don't pity him; he seems content to be an author and, really, a Bright Young Thing, if only he can make it as such.

I'm not sure what I think of Lady Chatterley yet, either. I can't say what I'd do if I were in her shoes. For now, she seems content enough helping her husband write and having her dalliances on the side. I wonder if she will get bored and frustrated by her husband or if she can continue to love him and get her physical needs met elsewhere?

message 3: by Nigeyb (new)

Nigeyb I was not very enthused about Lady Chatterley's Lover however I got a copy out of the library and read a few sections. I'm not generally very keen on love stories and nothing I read suggested this was one I might enjoy.

I could quite see how it was so controversial in its day. The sex scenes, for their time, are quite explicit. I remember hear about how, in the 1960s, school children would pass round copies that would fall open at the sex scenes.

I was also struck by how, to my modern eyes (and sensibility), it reads like a parody - especially the yokel accent written in the vernacular.

Perhaps it is a bit unfair to judge a book that I have not read properly, however I'm going to stick my neck out and suggest (in the interests of a good discussion) that, were it not for the ban and the court case, it would be all but forgotten today. What do you think?

message 4: by Nigeyb (new)

Nigeyb This article is an edited extract from Doris Lessing's introduction to the new Penguin Classic edition of Lady Chatterley's Lover and is well worth a read...

Pink That was a brilliant extract by Doris Lessing, thanks for posting Nigeyb. I'm going to start this book today.

Barbara Yes, Nigeyb, a brilliant bit of writing by Lessing. It's making me think of reading Lady Chatterley with more enthusiasm than before. I have to admit that I wasn't really looking forward to tackling it. Without ever having opened the book, I was assuming it was going to be all sex and very dated scandal...

Pink I'm on page 58.... this isn't quite what I was expecting, I thought it would be more posh manor house, mixed with mills and boon style romance/sex. I really like the characters so far and the war references, which I think I might have glossed over without reading Lessing's introduction. I'm surprised by the detailed descriptions of sex already, but Lady Chatterley has only just met Mellors. I've especially smiled over the use of the word crisis, instead of climax!

message 8: by Katy (new) - added it

Katy (kathy_h) I hadn't even considered reading this one earlier (got way too many books committed at the moment), but now it is definitely on my list for this month.

message 9: by Val (new) - rated it 4 stars

Val Introductions sometimes tell you too much about the book, so I did not want to read Doris Lessing's until I was further through the book. It is a good analysis of the book and the author.
I don't think I understood how important the war was the first time I read the book (many years ago). I saw Clifford Chatterley as physically and emotionally crippled by the war and the parallel with the trees which had been cut down, but did not see the extent to which Lawrence was saying that the whole country and society had been ruined by it.
Doris Lessing seems to be suggesting that Lawrence was identifying himself with Clifford, but I think he identified with both men, with Clifford as the part of himself he disliked and Mellors as more how he used to be and wished he still was.
The portrayal of the women, both Constance Chatterley and Ivy Bolton, is generally sympathetic, more so than that of the men, but the fact that he is a male author does show quite a lot.

message 10: by Pink (new) - rated it 5 stars

Pink I agree about introductions giving away too much, my old edition was full of spoilers (I skimmed the first page or 2 then decided not to read it)

I also agree that Lawrence seems to be equally portrayed in both male characters. It definitely seems like Mellors is the younger him, whereas Clifford Chatterley is the older impotent version.

I've only got 2 pages left now, I couldn't put the book down today, I absolutely love it, even the sex parts!

message 11: by Pink (new) - rated it 5 stars

Pink That should be 2 chapters left! I'll finish it later this evening.

message 12: by Barbara (last edited Feb 04, 2015 08:59AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Barbara I've just started this and so far I'm enjoying it. I'm only three chapters in, so time will tell. Lawrence's writing is quite good--great descriptions and interesting psychological insights. When Lady Chatterley was introduced, I thought she might be an Emma Bovary sort of character--discontent, always wanting the out-of-reach, completely self-absorbed. But Connie doesn't seem that way at all. So far she seems more human and caring.
I was also surprised to see that the Great War's shadow is evident from the very first sentence.
I'm looking forward to reading this!

message 13: by Pink (new) - rated it 5 stars

Pink Finished this yesterday and really loved it, much more than I thought I would. It felt very of our 'bright young things' time period and I liked how WW1 and changing societies were written about. I also liked the portrayal of all the characters, Connie, Clifford, Mellors and Mrs Bolton were all great, none of them were wholly good or bad, but quite complex.

I'm not sure that we can discuss Lady Chatterley's Lover without mentioning the sex! I naively thought it would be all romance with a quick romp in a stable or something, but it was much more explicit than I expected. Yet I enjoyed what was written and I think it served a purpose in Lawrence's writing. I'm sure if you pick this book up just for the sex scenes you'll be disappointed, but if you like reading books from this time period there is a lot more to love about it. However, if you can't abide very rude words - the f word and the c word, then this probably isn't something you'd enjoy, despite the other content.

Did everyone know that this was the third version of the story that Lawrence wrote, as he supposedly liked to do complete rewrites. The first version The First Lady Chatterley had roughly the same storyline, but without the sex. Then there was John Thomas and Lady Jane: The Second Version of Lady Chatterley's Lover which I'm assuming by the name had at least some sex in it. I haven't read either of these but I would be interested to see how they differ.

I'm glad to have finally read this and I'll definitely read more by Lawrence in the future...maybe Sons and Lovers which was one of his earlier novels.

message 14: by Val (new) - rated it 4 stars

Val The book is famous (or notorious) for the sex and it was explicit and detailed for the time. I think he genuinely was trying to be frank rather than titillating or rude and there probably were not very many words around to use for sexual matters, as people usually avoided talking about them.
I think you might like Sons and Lovers Pink, I prefered it to this one and it is considered his most autobiographical.

message 15: by Pink (new) - rated it 5 stars

Pink Val, good to hear that you enjoyed Sons and Lovers more, I think that will definitely be my next book of his.

message 16: by Judy (new)

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 931 comments Pink, I had to study this novel for A-level (many years ago now!) and we read all three versions of the book, but I only really remember the final version, which I've also reread more recently when one of the TV adaptations was on.

I've been thinking I might try the earliest version instead this time around, as that one is sometimes said to be the best.

message 17: by Judy (last edited Feb 05, 2015 11:12AM) (new)

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 931 comments Val, your comment on the explicit language reminded me of this poem by Lawrence. I think it bears out your comment about him trying to be frank rather than rude.

Tell me a word
that you've often heard,
yet it makes you squint
when you see it in print!

Tell me a thing
that you've often seen
yet if put in a book
it makes you turn green!

Tell me a thing
that you often do,
when described in a story
shocks you through and through!

Tell me what's wrong
with words or with you
that you don't mind the thing
yet the name is taboo.

Barbara Nigeyb wrote: "Perhaps it is a bit unfair to judge a book that I have not read properly, however I'm going to stick my neck out and suggest (in the interests of a good discussion) that, were it not for the ban and the court case, it would be all but forgotten today. What do you think?"

I definitely agree that Lady Chatterley wouldn't be as well-known as it is without its scandalous past, however, I think it would still be read today. I found the writing to be excellent and his critique of post WWI England was very well written. I also liked his analysis of the characters--there was a lot of psychology in the book. Personally, I would have read it a lot sooner if it HADN'T had the reputation it does. I'd imagined a book more filled with four letter words, verging on porn, and it really wasn't that way at all. I'm glad I finally read it and it's made me consider reading more of Lawrence's work.

message 19: by Pink (new) - rated it 5 stars

Pink Barbara, I feel exactly the same way!

message 20: by Nigeyb (new)

Nigeyb Thanks Barbara. The wealth of positive comments have convinced me I was probably wrong in my initial conclusion.

message 21: by Jennifer W (last edited Feb 21, 2015 07:53PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jennifer W | 1002 comments Mod
I was reading last night and came to these lines:

"Therefore, the novel, properly handled, can reveal the most secret places in life: for it is in the passional secret places of life, above all, that the tide of sensitive awareness needs to ebb and flow, cleansing and freshening. But the novel, like gossip, can also excite spurious sympathies and recoils, mechanical and deadening to the psyche. The novel can glorify the most corrupt feelings, so long as they are conventionally "pure."... For this reason, the gossip was humiliating. And for the same reason, most novels, especially popular ones, are humiliating, too. The public responds now only to an appeal to its vices."

Was Lawrence already on the defensive for this book? Did he know that he was going to have massive controversy with the sex in this book?

message 22: by Val (new) - rated it 4 stars

Val Jennifer W wrote: "Was Lawrence already on the defensive for this book? Did he know that he was going to have massive controversy with the sex in this book?"
It is quite possible Jennifer. Some of his earlier books had already caused a stir and they had less focus on sex.

Jennifer W | 1002 comments Mod
I'm loving the focus on nature. Each character has multiple natural symbols in the book. Connie's got flowers coming into bloom and brooding chickens. Clifford has the destruction of the forest. Even England has the corrupting forces of progress and a turn away from nature. It seems as if all of the characters in the book are ecologists. They see the beauty in the outside world and long to keep it that way. Being currently buried in waist deep snow, I'm really appreciating reading about the return of spring! Lawrence writes it so well that I'm able to forget about the winter wonderland outside my door!

message 24: by Erin (new) - rated it 3 stars

Erin | 39 comments I had previously read this in my late teens and really didn't like it - I found Connie weak and irritating and Lawrence's version of female sexuality even more so. I am about halfway through and really glad I gave it another go, with the benefit of years, experience and a the loss of the youthful reflex to see every character as a reflection of oneself.
While I still don't love Lawrence's writing style, and at times Connie still gives me the irrits, the use of landscape as the focal point makes it very fascinating. I think it is also a meditation on what it takes to make another person happy (or, indeed, if you can). Lastly, and probably most powerfully for me, it is an amazing response to the aftermath of WWI. Particularly coming so close to last years challenge, this part of the book has really come alive for me and made me glad I gave it another go.

message 25: by Pink (new) - rated it 5 stars

Pink Erin, I'm glad you gave it another go, I think it really makes a difference when we read books, as we react to them in different ways at different stages in out lives. There are definitely books I loved in my teens, that I don't think I'd appreciate now and vice versa.

Jennifer W | 1002 comments Mod
I've still got about 100 pages left to go. I hope to finish it this week. While I would have read this book eventually anyway, I'm so glad I got to it now. It's been wonderful!

Jennifer W | 1002 comments Mod
I finished it last night. Just wonderful! Since the month is over, I'm going to talk about the ending, so spoilers ahead!

The first thing I was surprised about is how long it took to get around to Clifford finding out. I assumed there would be a good deal of story after he finds out and the fall out from that. Why doesn't he want to give Connie a divorce? What of Mellors' crazy wife? She was something! I thought the scheme of involving the friend in trying to get a divorce was odd. I wouldn't think a respectable guy would want his name dragged through the mud like that if he wasn't actually the father. I was shocked by Connie's father's responses to all of this. "Good in bed is she? Chip off the old block!" Good God! Also, I was a bit weirded out by Clifford and Mrs. Bolton's relationship. Which I think is a bit hypocritical of myself being that I was completely fine with the graphic descriptions of Connie's affair...

So glad I read this book!

message 28: by Lori (new) - rated it 3 stars

Lori | 73 comments I'm a bit late to the party - finished it at the weekend.

I enjoyed this book. Like others, I was surprised to find a book that is very nuanced and as much about post WW1 society as it is about the relationship between Connie, Mellors and Clifford - I thought it was going be a bit more of the Mills & Boon, lots of sex, love story type book.

My edition is the Vintage Classics text. This includes an introduction by Blake Morrison. It also contains the essay, 'Apropos of Lady Chatterley's Lover', that Lawrence wrote a couple of years after finishing the book. I'm not sure whether this essay is included in other editions and unfortunately I cant' find a link to an online version.

In that essay, Lawrence explains some of the ideas and themes behind the book. One of them is that lots of couples end up experiencing 'counterfeit love' - that is, they persuade themselves that they are in love because we have been taught that love means experiencing certain feelings and acting in certain ways, rather than being really in love. Connie and Clifford have 'counterfeit love', and Connie and Mellors real love. Lawrence argues that counterfeit love can never last - a marriage built on that will always break down, like Connie and Clifford's does.

The thing is, whilst Connie and Clifford were clearly unhappy, I’m not convinced that Connie would have been any happier with Mellors in the end - did anyone else think that? I wonder whether that is why Lawrence ended the story when he did?

It seems to me that Connie knows very little about him and really only wants a baby. Mellors sounds pretty commitment-phobic and not overly thrilled at the idea of having a child. He also seems to be very confused about his own identity – is he a gentleman or a working class game-keeper? I just couldn't see things ending well for them, and for that reason I can't decide whether it was a happy or a sad ending.

message 29: by Lori (new) - rated it 3 stars

Lori | 73 comments Thanks also for the Doris Lessing extract, Nigeyb - fascinating reading!

Jennifer W | 1002 comments Mod
Lori, I wondered about the timing of the ending, too. It's not a happily ever after, but nor is it a tragically ever after, either. To me, by ending the book where he did, it means that Lawrence wasn't chiefly writing about the relationship between Mellors and Connie (or Clifford and Connie for that matter), so then what was he trying to get across?

message 31: by Val (new) - rated it 4 stars

Val I.m not sure that whether they are happy or not is all that important. They are setting out on the adventure of life together.

message 32: by Pink (new) - rated it 5 stars

Pink I liked the ending, it was sort of a happy outcome for Connie and Mellors, but certainly not a bed of roses and I appreciated that about it.

message 33: by Lori (last edited Mar 10, 2015 06:16AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Lori | 73 comments ^Me too, Pink. I don't think an 'and they lived happily ever after' ending would have been appropriate. This ending felt much more realistic. I seem to remember Mellors saying something right at the end about being 'hopeful if a little drooping' (I think I've misquoted there and I've taken my copy back to the library so I can't refer to it, but that was the sense) and that's what the ending was for me - sort of hopeful, but also uncertain and a bit sad.

I wondered, given the time he was writing it, whether the ending was reflecting the general uncertainty of the times (post WW1, the events leading up to WW2). I imagine that there were probably a lot of people looking for happiness and wanting to feel hopeful, but also feeling afraid of what the future might bring?

message 34: by Linda (new)

Linda (lindalappin) | 5 comments I read somewhere that what British censors objected to in this book wasn't so much the sex, but the adultery involved in the relationship between Mellors and Lady Chatterley. What struck me when I re read this book wasn't so much the love story, but the social criticism of the mining industry and its impact on the land and psyche of the people. In general that is an issue which is very much felt in all of DHL's work, also in his late travel writings about Italy and the letters he wrote from there.

message 35: by Linda (new)

Linda (lindalappin) | 5 comments Lori wrote: "^Me too, Pink. I don't think an 'and they lived happily ever after' ending would have been appropriate. This ending felt much more realistic. I seem to remember Mellors saying something right at th..."

I think in general Lawrence felt that happiness could not be found in England, and that the world was hurling towards a terrible phase of destruction which could not be avoided, because human beings had become detached from the vital forces which gave them strength and spiritual meaning in previous eras.

message 36: by Linda (new)

Linda (lindalappin) | 5 comments Jennifer W wrote: "Lori, I wondered about the timing of the ending, too. It's not a happily ever after, but nor is it a tragically ever after, either. To me, by ending the book where he did, it means that Lawrence wa..."

I agree, the love story is part of a greater story which concerned DHL, about getting back to our psychic roots or face destruction at the level of the individual, the couple, and society

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