Title: Sons and Lovers
Author: D.H. Lawrence
Source: Personal library
This novel tells the story of the Morel family: Father Walter, mother Gertrude, and children William, Annie, Paul and Arthur. Not finding any sort of satisfaction in her marital relationship with drunk, abusive, brash Walter, Gertrude places all her love and devotion onto her sons. Her desire to protect them eventually leads to William's dangerous lifestyle and Paul's inability to move out of his parents' home.
My Two Cents:
I really, really enjoyed this novel. For some reason, Lawrence always has kind of held the same lofty place in English letters of James Joyce and, to an extent, Shakespeare. He just wasn't an author that, going through school, a lot of people read for fun. There was one short story that every English major at my college read, but I think I only knew one or two other people who read him extracurricularly. As a result, Lawrence just gained this kind of aura that I never tried to breech. However, I'm glad I finally did read Lawrence and can't wait to read more by him.
I really oscillated back and forth as to whether or not I liked or even felt sorry for Gertrude. For the first portion of the novel, I absolutely felt sorry for her. She had an absent husband who did not give her enough money to keep the home running each week. Walter constantly was out drinking and, when he came home, he was loud and mean. The only good relationships she had were with her children, who keep multiplying even though she hates her husband. But, as the children grew, I liked her less and less. She became one of those mothers who just cannot cut the apron strings. Her suffocation eventually leads to William leaving the house and going against pretty much everything he ever has been taught, to his detriment. Gertrude's hold on Paul, mostly because of what happened to William, is just frighteningly strong. By the end of the novel, he is in his late 20s, has ruined two potential romantic relationships because of his mother's co-dependency and still living at home. There just was something so wrong and even creepy about Paul's relationship with his mother as an adult that I just could not get over.
While I spent most of the novel wishing that Paul would just cut the cord on his own and leave his parents' house (He nearly does a few times), and I could understand that his care and concern for his mother was the driving force behind his inability to grow up, I still couldn't really feel very sorry for him. I think it's because of the way his worry for his mother manifests itself in his relationships with the women in the book. Instead of making things clear about his relationship with his mother from the start, he leads two women on for long periods of time, coming close to marriage a couple of times, only to turn into a rogue and a rake and treat the women horribly. I just could not feel sorry for Paul, not one bit.
Lawrence's writing is gorgeous. He really had a knack for evoking not only the physical landscape of the industrializing English countryside in which his novel is set, but he is able to render the overall atmosphere of the setting with stunning accuracy. I really felt as if I could picture not only the physical surroundings, but I could feel as downtrodden and low as many of the characters in his novel. This was just a beautiful novel that flowed really easily, and I could sit down to read and, before I knew it, I was 50 pages farther into the book.