Even if I was academically up to the task, (which I’m not!) a review of Lady Chatterley’s Lover in terms of themes, message and relevance to the world wouldn’t suit this blog for one and is hardly a world requirement for another 😉 The literary world does not need to know what Merry thinks of a classic in order to sell more of it 😆
Probably more relevant is what I got from it anyway. And that was a lot; my age old apathy about reading ‘classics’ or ‘worthy’ books was not so in force here, as I read another DH Lawrence as an S Level book while in my final English A Level year. I loved Sons and Lovers, one of the few books, along with Cider with Rosie, that really spoke to me in those years. Perhaps it is that I like a connection to an author who write autobiographically or partly so; I seem to remember really enjoying the Sheila Hocken books about Emma and Blue Above the Chimney’s too. Plus DH Lawrence was writing about a landscape familiar to me, as I grew up in Nottinghamshire and in fact went to the school opposite his too. As did my uncle. (And Ed Balls, but we won’t dwell on that!)
So, having enjoyed Sons and Lovers, I did expect to enjoy Lady Chatterley – and I did. What really struck me though, was my preconceived ideas and also the hang over of ideas and misconceptions and downright prejudices that lurk in my brain.
What I thought I knew of Lady Chatterley was that it was a book about a woman who has an affair with the gardener and that it was salacious in the extreme at the time it was published. I’m a bit old to get the trembles from that and didn’t expect it to be exactly shocking in this day and age (it isn’t, unless you could the talking to willies bit!) but what I didn’t know was anything about why she has the affair or how it ends.
What Lady Chatterley really is is “desperately lonely and unhappy woman who wants to be adored, held and have a baby” something many if not most women can probably relate to at some point. And what really struck me is that buried somewhere in my brain is still some outdated, repressed private school and middle class notion that if a woman has an affair, it is her failing and her fault and she’s in the wrong and if the affair is saucy, it’s probably sordid and she’s just a no good from the start.
I love the book on many levels, the characters, the language, the rude and brutal sexuality of it, the coal miners and the images of pit heads and dirty villages I can still recall. But what I liked the most was it reminded me again to keep my mind open, not judge, check why I believe why I do – and celebrate myself for being a woman who loves rude and dirty passion, deserves to be wanted, acknowledged and respected for herself (I am) alongside cuddling, being loved and longing for happiness.