Back in October, I was given the task of reading ‘Lady Chatterley’s Lover’ as part of ‘Wider Reading’ for my English Literature AS. I didn’t know much about this book apart from its racy themes and ‘vulgar’ language, and upon reflection I believe that the scandal this novel caused is why anyone would pick this up in modern times.
On saying this, I did enjoy many aspects of this novel. The relationship between Lady Chatterley and Mellors was extremely endearing – OTP, am I right? In fact, most of the relationships explored, whether they be romantic, hateful, or just downright lustful were handled extremely tastefully. Lady Chatterley’s character development simply radiated off of these relationships too as she gradually realised what she wanted out of life, regardless of social norms inflicted upon her by family. It is also refreshing to see such a strong female protagonist written by a man in the 1920s!
Seeing as it is the main source of interest surrounding this novel, I feel inclined to comment on the taboo subjects that it features. Although I am seeing this through 21st century eyes, I genuinely am shocked at the extreme outrage it piqued. Whilst the language does prove rather strong at points, I believe it is used tastefully and in entirely the right context. This applies to the racier scenes as well; they are nowhere near as vulgar and crude as numerous critics censured – in fact, I would go as far to say that they were pleasantly poetic!
However, whilst the writing style is commendable and easier to read than most classics, there was far too much context for me to handle. The odd paragraph on the jazz age, for example, was interesting when relevant; however, there were moments when nearly WHOLE chapters were dedicated to rants on topics such as Bolshevism and the Industrial Revolution. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate my history, but these contextual rambles were often unnecessary and repetitive.
As well as this, I found it extremely hard to immerse myself into the novel which is why I have only now completed it despite receiving the task back in October. I think this was mainly due to the slow-moving plot; even once I’d gotten into the story, not much progressed action-wise. I feel you had to develop a much stronger connection than I did with the characters in order to fully enjoy this novel.
On reflection, ‘Lady Chatterley’s Lover’ was an entertaining read once I was able to absorb myself into the world, and the controversy surrounding it was, in my eyes, highly unnecessary. Unfortunately, for me, the lack of plot development along with the dragged-out contextual rants let down what could have been a truly engaging novel.