The Rainbow  By  cover art

The Rainbow

By: D. H. Lawrence
Narrated by: Maureen O'Brien

Publisher's summary

Set in the rural midlands of England, The Rainbow revolves around three generations of Brangwens, a family deeply involved with the land and noted for their strength and vigour. When Tom Brangwen marries a Polish widow, Lydia Lensky, and adopts her daughter, Anna, as his own, he is unprepared for the conflict and passion that erupts between them. Their stories continue in Women in Love.

©1995 The Estate of Frieda Lawrence Ravagli (P)2014 Audible, Inc.

Critic reviews

"O'Brien reads the Brangwens, both women and men, as vital people, with instinctive lines that are both sensual and spiritual; always they are whole and organic as they are drawn inexorably into the Rainbow. Both book and reading give us Lawrence at his best." ( AudioFile)

What listeners say about The Rainbow

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Death and Rebirth, the Old and New.

A brilliant telling of the Brangwen family's 3 generations, before and after the industrial revolution from their small bit of England, and their rise from people of the land, to people of culture and worldly knowledge, with moral, spiritual and earthly struggles. Eventually revolving around the granddaughter, Ursula, a 'modern' women of free thought and the challenges that envelope her. It is a story of great passions, misfortunes, loves and agonies, always surrounded by their small place in the world of earthly power.
If you love this book as much as I have, 'Women in Love' continues the tale, this time focusing on Ursula's younger sister, Gudrun.

Maureen O'Brien is the best narrator I have, to this point, heard! Remarkable!

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9 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • 03-07-16

Not so hard

Often I struggled through this while reading. Not so listening. Also discovered that Lawrence isn't just about sex. He writes a lot about urbanization and modern dehumanizing employment practices, just as relevant today. Even where sex is talked about, it's talked about very deeply and meaningfully. Not at all pornographically. Really an extension of Hardy with a bit of Freud thrown in. Oh, and a bit of Dolls House and Hedda Gabler. Figure that much of the fuss, the establishmentarian reaction, historically speaking, actually related to the story's radical and individualistic view point rather than sex scenes as such (as there really weren't any to speak of, even for the times.) I wouldn't be surprised if Lawrence included more sex later in Women and Chatterley just to stick it to readers who chose not to see past these matters in his first few books. All in all, an incredible author, the likes of whom we won't see again for awhile to come.

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7 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Strangely Contemporary

Written in the early 1900's this novel seems strangely contemporary with characters and situations that still resonate. This novel is primarily about characters and their relationship to environment, and not much about story. The novel follows the lives of a family that transitions from rural to industrial life in turn of the century Britain. There is some mildly erotic bi-curious scenes and lots of frank sexuality. All the action in this book is quite slow and almost all is internal to the characters. The writing is touching and subtly powerful. The story mirrors real life, over multiple generations, so there is a balance of death and birth, and happiness and despair, but I did not find this at all depressing, but life affirming.

This book reminded me a bit of Jude of Obscure, which I also liked quite a bit.

I had read Sons and Lovers and liked it a lot. I liked this more, and just added the sequel Women in Love to my queue.

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6 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Dark Desires In The Shadow of The Rainbow

This is the second of D.H. Lawrence's works I have read recently as part of the Modern Library Top 100. While I think that Lawrence is a decent enough writer, I don't know if he rates three books in the list of the 100 most important novels of the 20th Century.

Sons and Lovers was the first work. And, though not technically a trilogy, the three works delve into the depths of human sexuality at the close of the Victorian Era.

The Rainbow focuses on three generations of the Brangwen family in the Midlands of England beginning in the 1840's. Polish refugee Lydia, a widow and mother of ten year old Anna, meets and marries Tom Brangwen, whose entire life is his community. The story follows Anna who marries a son of one of Tom's brothers with whom she fights and hates but which serves as a component of their sexual relationship and many children, particularly daughters, that resulted from.their dark passion. Their eldest, Ursula, her father's favorite and herself sexually compulsive, engages in a lesbian relationship as a teen with a teacher, then a straight relationship with a soldier of Polish extraction for whom she had remained distanced from during South Africa's Boer Wars and a realization that her desires are more sensual than a desire to be part of a relationship.

Written in 1915, it was immediately banned in England and thousands of copies burned though smuggled copies from America made it an underground sensation. A similar situation occured with Sons and Lovers and the follow-up novel, Women In Love.

The Rainbow is referential to the advent of modernization that was transforming the English countryside of quaint villages yielding to ever expanding modern construction that would merge those communities into one large new community. While anathema to those who cling to the past, to the modernist, a plethora of endless possibilities.

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3 people found this helpful

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Horrid and depressing

This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

If your depressed this book might put you over the edge, very repetitive, no hope; I am very glad I am not part of this family. They live in their own doom. I originally bought another book by this author, but decided not to put myself though the misery of listening to it. I give the performance a 5 star because anyone who can suffer through reading it deserves many stars.

Did Maureen O'Brien do a good job differentiating all the characters? How?

yes, job very well done!

What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

disappointment, when you give a book a powerful title like "the Rainbow" you expect it to have some encouraging messages, not to be dreary and depressing! It should have been called "The Hopeless Family".

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2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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A masterfully created unfiltered deep dive into what lies within us all.

This novel is a masterpiece of writing skill and an incredibly honest exploration of the turbulence that is just beyond the socially acceptable surface that we present to the world. At first I really struggled with the incredibly raw and potent emotions expressed by the characters as they tired to find some happiness and a way of living within the world. As the story progressed, I began to realize that, if you’re really honest with yourself, this IS what we are like on the inside. It definitely snuck up on me and I was at least 75% of the way through before I could actually admit this to myself.

Not for the faint of heart, but highly recommended.

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1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Not to miss

What a treasure. Erudite & Steamy. Part of women’s history and always so wonderfully close to nature.

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

The strength of fierce Women

The three generations of female characters were an inspiration. Their perspective of traditional roles and what they do and don't communicate was fascinating.

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  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Too much

Too much flowery, unreadable, nonsensical writing, which seemed only for the purpose of moving the story along, stretching out what seemed to be a series of shorts. Stitched together, glued together. The writing was too “abstract” for my taste. I just skimmed over those parts, trying to get the “gist”. It wasn’t so bad as long as I had an idea of what Lawrence was referring to, such as the interior life of the characters. The worst was when he turns into Dostoyevsky, and starts preaching about religious concepts. The story, the narrator are good, sometimes the writing is good.

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

outstanding- a must read for women

exceptional, sensitive, nuanced, empathic and deeply empowering and respectful to the complexity of the feminine psyche and the need for self realisation and spiritual wholeness beyond codependency of romanticism

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