Sons and Lovers

by D.H. Lawrence

Apparently D.H. Lawrence's writing got more & more recondite the older he got. Sons and Lovers (1913) is extraordinarily readable, whereas The Rainbow (1915) is a little less so, and Women in Love (1920) is a lot less so. I remember writing in my review of The Rainbow that you almost wouldn't mistake the author to be one and the same (of the other books)...yet he is. Sons and Lovers I am able to recommend; the other two are missable.

One thing that does hold true of all D.H. Lawrence writing is that his characters always inhabit a world that very much belongs to NATURE. In Sons and Lovers, this time, the focus is extraordinarily on FLOWERS. (NB: This book is mandatory reading for any florist.) You can find within these pages: calceolarias, geraniums, sunflowers, dahlias, chrysanthemums, snowdrops, freesias, anemones, scillas, pinks, cowslips, irises, holly-hocks, etc, etc, ad infinitum. The setting is once again the Collieries of England, so people are also very literally 'living off the land.' And they walk everywhere! This I love. A big part of me wishes we could go back to a time when personal motorcars were an extravagance—there was no reason to own one. The characters within these pages are walking between one and ten miles (over and through a variety of terrain), connecting the dots between trains, which can get you anywhere!

Sons and Lovers is very literally titled. My mother always so despised every one of my brother's girlfriends that it isn't a wonder he only married after she was dead. I don't think it's an uncommon refrain in families. The psychopathology of Classic Bitch's own family notwithstanding, what's going on in the pages of this particular book is a mother's love ebbing & bittering for her husband (rightly so in this case) and thereby transferring to what seems like another suitable object: the other man in her life...her son. Rest assured it doesn't get any weirder than that, and it's actually a lovely heart-level love story in this way (with its requisite problems, of course).

There are some other themes as relevant to today as they were then. There's a frustratingly fabulous portrayal of the push-pull of intimacy all throughout the book, with the final pages being a tour de force. And there's also a frank depiction of what we today would call 'assisted suicide,' that hasn't changed much except that it was easier to 'get away with' and wouldn't have been prosecuted anyway. Another reason Classic Bitch would like to go back in time. Not all 'progress' is good, and, Jesus, but did we have better sense then...