Sons and Lovers, D. H. Lawrence's first major novel, was also the first in the English language to explore ordinary working-class life from the inside. No writer before or since has written so well about the intimacies enforced by a tightly knit mining community and by a family where feelings are never hidden for long.
When the marriage between Walter Morel and his sensitive, high-minded wife begins to break down, the bitterness of their frustration seeps into their children's lives. Their second son, Paul, knows that he must struggle for independence if he is not to repeat his parents' failure. Lawrence's powerful description of Paul's single-minded efforts to define himself sexually and emotionally through relationships with two women---the innocent, old-fashioned Miriam Leivers and the experienced, provocatively modern Clara Dawes---makes this a novel as much for the beginning of the 21st century as it was for the beginning of the 20th.
Public Domain (P)2010 Tantor
I gave this book a five rating because I injected my assessment of it with a healthy dose of subjectivity. In this instance, I liked the book, I connected with it. I mean that it really resonated with me. Otherwise I would have given it 4.5 stars. But here's something objective. Whilst Lawrence is usually remembered or known for his mooning and swooning excerpts, these sorts of narrations really only comprised 2-5% of Sons and Lovers. The rest of the book was a very strong narrative, very well detailed and compelling, much in the vein of Tolstoy and later Hardy. Lawrence wrote wonderful narrative. Another startling and objective fact about the book was in the way it was read by Simon Vance. Simon gave the story a dimension I wouldn't have thought of, and it was a powerful and deserving dimension. Till now I had interpreted Paul Morel as being a 'moony' overly sensitive mother's boy. And he is such in many ways. But Simon brought a manliness to the character that gave the character and the story real street cred. I quite connected with this story. I found similarities with it in my own formative years, mostly around the town community, the industrialized nature of the town, the opportunities that were available for succeeding generations, being Paul's and his siblings, which history doesn't always make available, contrary to our beliefs in a progressive society ever present, and, yes, even in the relationship Paul shared with his mother. There came a point in the story when I felt like telling Paul to get a hold of himself. But until that point I felt like Lawrence was exploring something universal in a vast proportion of mother son relationships. A good story, in the sense of a good yarn, in places a little like a memoir, and dimensional in terms of the characters and the themes explored in poignant but not over weening sections of the narrative.
Absolutly fantastic read. Wonderful depth to the characters without slowing the pace of the story. You get a real feel for what life was like in a mining town at the turn of the century. Basically terrible. All the characters are so real and you feel as if you really get to know them and understand them. This is my first D H Lawrence, it will not be my last. The narration is spot on, strong, understandable accents.
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