Lady Chatterley’s Lover is the story of Constance Chatterley, who, trapped in an unhappy marriage to an aristocratic mine owner whose war wounds have left him paralyzed and impotent, has an affair with Mellors, the gamekeeper.
Now this was a slog of a book. I managed to finish it, but looking back, I should have just stopped when I realized that this book was so not worth my time. I had heard from various people whose opinions I respect and often agree with that this book needed to be on my reading list. Well, I got that out of the way.
I thought the characters were dull, and I couldn’t have cared less how this whole affair ended. Many a time I found myself thinking that this whole thing was just stupid. I got annoyed with Clifford and his whole, “You can go have a baby with some other guy, but I have to approve of the guy” schtick. Really? Constance, run away!
While I am normally pretty good with understanding that these books are from a different time period, and that things were vastly different back then, I just could not sympathize with anyone in this book. I just wanted Constance to cut to the chase and run off with the hugely boring and uninteresting Mellors and let me get back to reading something worth my time. Maybe it’s because I just don’t see this situation being as scandalous today as it was then, and I know that this goes back to reading it with the knowledge of the time period, but I do expect there to be some relevancy to today that will keep me engaged in the book. I didn’t see that here. Even in Tess of the d’ Ubervilles there relevancy to today’s society and the issue women still have fighting against a patriarchal system. While I can see Constance’s situation as still being stigmatized today, (cause when isn’t a woman making choices about sex not stigmatized) I couldn’t help but be annoyed with her after a while for not just standing up for herself and leaving. It took forever!
Maybe I would have felt more sympathetic if I had actually like Mellors, but since I really didn’t care about him, and didn’t understand what Constance saw in the man, I just wanted her to get on with it. I actually found him rather disrespectful and unlikable. I personally would have nothing to do with someone like Mellors, so I couldn’t understand why Constance did.
It was this and all the pretentious, philosophical discussions between very boring men about the meaning of sex and why they don’t get what all the fuss is about. Is it just me or does this just seem a little unnatural? I also couldn’t help but notice the absence of Constance’s opinion on the matter (cause who wants to hear a woman talk about sex) even though she is the only one in the book who got close to figuring it all out. If that is what we would call her revelations, if we want to call them that. More like confused and muddled thoughts that never actually gained any coherency.
As you can probably tell, I hated this book. I hated it so much that I tried to sell it back to Powell’s, but not even Powell’s would take it, thus it sits on my floor constantly reminding me of all the time wasted that could have been spent reading Junot Diaz’s new book, This Is How You Lose Her (review forthcoming). If you want to read a classic, don’t read this one. Unless you’re into all the things I hate. In that case, go for it.