One rainy Saturday in April, I hit up the local library, like I always do, and browsed for some new books to read. I didn’t really go in with any genre or author in mind, I just wanted to pick up a book with an interesting title or cover (yea, so much for “don’t judge a book by its cover) and came across this beautiful pink leather book with the words ‘Lady Chatterley’s Lover‘ printed large on the cover. Hm. Okay, why not? I flipped to the back and found nothing but just one sentence: “Ours is essentially a tragic age, so we refuse to take it tragically. The cataclysm has happened, we are among the ruins, we start to build up new little habitats, to have new little hopes. It is rather hard work: there is now no smooth road into the future: but we go round, or scramble over the obstacles.” Okay, wow, that little blurb on the back of the book definitely piqued my interest, so I checked out that book and started to read it in the car on the way home. For some odd reason, I thought it was a British rom-com written sometime in the late 2000s, early 2010s, just because I’ve read my fair share of British rom-coms published in that time period and the first chapter of Lady Chatterley’s Lover seemed so oddly familiar. So, I asked my sister for her phone (because I have a flip phone) so that I could look up the name of the book and find out a. who the author is and b. when this was published. Turns out that Lady Chatterley’s Lover is a classic EROTICA ??!! (we’ll get into that later), was published in the 1920s, and the author was a man whose name I’ve never heard of. WHAT? Just so to make it clear, I am definitely NOT the type of gal who enjoys eroticas. NO. I’ve never read one deliberately and never wanted to. But the first two chapters of the novel were going quite splendidly–you know, nothing of that sort–and I was actually quite interested in the content so I decided to continue with the book. But, of course, I inevitably got to that part of the book. Let’s talk about that. But we have to start from the beginning, of course.
Okay, just as a disclaimer, please bear with me as I try to remember every single detail of this book. It’s been a while since I finished it (as you guys could tell from the first paragraph) and I KNOW that I always blame school and other related things for the reason why I never update this blog (or write book reviews as soon as I’m finished with the book) frequently, but IT’S A VALID EXCUSE. Anyway, sorry, I don’t mean to sound angry or aggressive with the caps lock but junior year has been a whirlwind. Okay, on with the review!
Like I mentioned in the first paragraph, I honestly thought Lady Chatterley’s Lover was a British rom-com from this century. Seriously, even the title of the book kind of sounds like one. The first few chapters of the book really interested me as it was set in England after the first World War (a setting that I personally love, Peaky Blinders I’m looking at you) and our protagonist is a young lady named Connie, who wed a soldier who was paralyzed from the waist down. Her married life is monotonous and boring compared to her lively youth. She is stuck being married to a man who cannot move, not to mention also a narrow-minded man who is every bit conservative, spending her days stuck in the dark Wragby Hall and playing the role of caretaker for her husband. Worst of all, she cannot bear children with Clifford (her husband’s name…it kept reminding me of the big red dog…gosh) or be pleased by him. Yea. So, while her husband has his friends over to have ‘intelligent’ conversations, she ends up having an affair with a man named Michaelis, one of Clifford’s guests, but no, Michaelis is not the lover of Lady Chatterley. Up until when they split to their own ways, I thought that Michaelis would be the lover. But nope! It was Oliver Mellors, the gruffy gamekeeper who I didn’t like one bit.
Oliver Mellors’ Derbyshire accent just kept reminding me of Hagrid from the Harry Potter series because they just sounded so similar (when I read it in my head, at least), and it just kept BUGGING me because I know Hagrid would never have an affair with a married woman and also I didn’t want to imagine Hagrid doing the dirty. Because let me tell you, that accent came out when they were doing it. Anyway, Mellors spoke in a perfectly understandable English accent whenever he was doing business with Clifford or with other people who held higher positions than he did, but to Connie he would just ramble on with his hard-to-understand Derbyshire dialect and it would make both her and me agitated because we both couldn’t understand a thing he was saying. The worst part about Mellors was that he had NO personality whatsoever. NONE. I think it was D.H. Lawrence’s purpose to make Mellors so bland because then everything else in the book would make sense. That would prove how desperately Connie wanted to have physical contact with a man–she went after that emotionless and terribly dull gamekeeper! Now, before we move onto the other characters, I want to reiterate that I finished the book a long while ago. I may not remember everything about all the characters! Okay, so, let’s start with Connie: the young lady who hails from a comfortable background and a well-known family, tragically married to a crippled man who ties her down to the depressing Wragby Hall. I found Connie pretty tolerable up until when she started her affair with Mellors. I think Lady Chatterley’s Lover may be the first book in which I’ve disliked all the protagonists and deuteragonists; that list includes Connie, Clifford, Mellors, and Mrs. Bolton. Anyway, so yes, Mellors got on my nerves so naturally Connie got on my nerves after she fell for this man (who didn’t even treat her right). He barely showed her any affection (maybe apart from when they did the deed) and was just so pessimistic about pretty much everything. Okay, yes, I get it that this book was set in Britain after the Great War and being all depressed and having the working class feel oppressed was supposed to be the point, but disliking Oliver Mellors was way too easy, especially after having spent most of my life reading rom-coms where the guy is actually a gift straight from heaven. Clifford, on the other hand, held a higher, more ‘respectable’, position in society compared to Mellors, but they were equally bland. He told Connie to go produce offspring with another man and then bring the child to Wragby Hall so they can raise him/her together…but the thing is, he knew (as did the readers) that he wouldn’t be able to handle seeing a child that wasn’t his. And all he talked about was money and work during the “intelligent” conversations he would have with his friends. Mrs. Bolton was a good caretaker, but she had such a big blabbermouth. Bleh.
Let’s take a short paragraph to talk about that. I was uncomfortable with the idea of reading it, so I attempted to skip over those parts BUT I JUST DIDN’T KNOW WHEN IT STARTED OR ENDED! For example, I would be reading the parts when Connie went over to the cabin and waited for Mellors to come so that they could do it, and then they would talk for a little bit and then they would take off their coats and shoes. Okay. I was warned that it would happen soon, so I literally skip a page and then they’re already done and I have no idea what they’re talking about now. So in order to get context, I go a few sentences back but I go too far back and end up reading what I’ve been trying to avoid the whole time! Yea, not so easy. But it was weird. And they named their…areas…for each other. I found myself laughing out loud but also cringing because it was so weird! So, so weird! Nothing sexy about it, just so weird and I felt like I was invading their privacy. Yea, the privacy of fictional characters.
So, as you can quite tell, I was not a big fan of this book. Especially at the end when Connie and Mellors actually got together? Like they actually pretty much got rid of Bertha Coutts, Mellors’ separated wife (but not divorced), and Connie managed to divorce Clifford so that she and Mellors can live happily ever after with their unborn baby. Yea. As much as I disliked both men, I really wanted Connie to stay with Clifford and leave Mellors. I just really didn’t like Mellors.
But, that doesn’t undermine the fact that this book helped change and shape literature into what it is now! Lady Chatterley’s Lover was first banned when it was released for obvious reasons, but it introduced sexual themes into modern 20th-21st century literature. So, hey, I guess this book isn’t that bad. Or maybe it is.