Banned Books Week: Lady Chatterley's Lover

Monday, September 26, 2016

Lady Chatterley’s Lover
by D.H. Lawrence
Lady Constance Chatterley marries her husband shortly before World War I. He returns from the war paralyzed from the waist down. Their relationship continues to stagnant in the countryside until she has an affair with their gamekeeper, Oliver Mellors. The book was considered incredibly racy it was published in 1928. The full novel wasn’t even published in England until 1960. I decided to read this because it’s one of the most banned books of all time.  
To me, the novel was a gross simplification of love. Physical love is part of relationships, but it’s not the only element. Lawrence seemed to think that without the physical connection there was no way that Constance and her husband Clifford could ever love each other. Her superficial connection with Oliver never rang true to me. 

Oliver Mellors’ character was hard to stomach. He’s racist, homophobic, selfish, and quick to lose his temper. The only thing Constance actually has in common with him is their mutual physical attraction. It’s hard to believe Lawrence’s premise that this is the most powerful relationship she can have. It would be more believable if Constance had an affair with him, began to understand the importance of the physical side of relationships and then found someone that satisfied both the physical and mental desires that she had.

BOTTOM LINE: It’s a classic and I’m glad I read it, but it’s definitely not a new favorite. Lawrence writes some beautiful passages, but the characters and the plot fell short.

The book was banned in countries all over the world. There was even a trial because of the content. You can read more about it here

Past Banned Books Week Posts 
2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, and 2011.

Germinal Readalong

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Do you guys have any unread books that just seem to haunt you? You know the ones. You've been meaning to read it for years, but you never quite get to it even though tons of people have recommended it to you. 

Well for me, that book is Germinal by Emilé Zola and this year I'm actually going to read it! The one word I see the most in reviews of the book is "gripping". I don't know why this one is so intimidating to me, but it is. 

Here's Penguin's summary...

"Etienne Lantier, an unemployed railway worker, is a clever but uneducated young man with a dangerous temper. Forced to take a back-breaking job at Le Voreux mine when he cannot get other work, he discovers that his fellow miners are ill, hungry, and in debt, unable to feed and clothe their families. When conditions in the mining community deteriorate even further, Lantier finds himself leading a strike that could mean starvation or salvation for all."

So if you're interested in reading this one, join Care's Books and Pie and me as we brave this French classic. We'll be posting thoughts as we go on Twitter, Litsy, and Instagram at #GerminalAlong. It will be a very casual readalong, but it will be fun to share thoughts. I will post a wrap-up at the end of the month as well. I hope you'll join us!

To wrap things up, here's a quote from Daniel Radcliff about the book...

“[Germinal] made me realize that when books are considered ‘classics,’ most of the time they’re actually very readable and exciting.”

The Tenant of Wildfell Hall

Thursday, August 11, 2016

The Tenant of Wildfell Hall 
by Anne Bronte
Gilbert Markham is a young man falls for a woman who has moved into a large house in his neighborhood. Her background is a bit of a mystery. As Gilbert becomes more attached her past is slowly revealed in the form of a journal. 

The titular character, Helen Graham, escaped from an abusive marriage with her young son. I was in awe of Anne Bronte’s ability to tell such a relevant story in 1848. There are so many women who find themselves in the same situation today. She was young and naïve when she married Arthur Huntingdon and by the time she learned his true character it was too late. 

The writing is wonderful and for me that story pulled me in completely. The author tells the story from Gilbert’s point-of-view at times and from Helen’s at other times. The changing narrative flowed well and never rang false.
Bronte covers some intense subjects in the book. In addition to infidelity and alcoholism, she makes some disturbing observations about women’s rights during this time period. Sometimes it’s easy to forget how far we’ve come in the last few years. 

BOTTOM LINE: For me, this Bronte novel fell right under Jane Eyre in my ranking. The characters aren’t as likeable, but the story is powerful. 
“If you would have your son to walk honorably through the world, you must not attempt to clear the stones from his path, but teach him to walk firmly over them - not insist upon leading him by the hand, but let him learn to go alone.”

“When I tell you not to marry without love, I do not advise you to marry for love alone: there are many, many other things to be considered. Keep both heart and hand in your own possession, till you see good reason to part with them; and if such an occasion should never present itself, comfort your mind with this reflection, that though in single life your joys may not be very many, your sorrows, at least, will not be more than you can bear. Marriage may change your circumstances for the better, but, in my private opinion, it is far more likely to produce a contrary result.”