Lady Chatterley’s Lover is a beautifully written novel about a woman’s realization that she needs the physical part of her marriage as well as the spiritual and mental.
Constance (or Connie) Chatterley met and married her husband Clifford one month before he shipped over to Europe during WWI. During the war, Clifford was injured extensively causing him to be paralyzed waist down. After Clifford has healed, he and Constance move back to his country estate. There they work together on Clifford’s writings. They enjoy a good relationship, but Constance soon finds herself tired by the physical demands of caring for Clifford, and finds herself yearning for a child. Clifford tells Constance that he would also like a child and that he would be okay with Constance having another man’s child as long as she remained in love with him.
Almost against her will, Constance finds herself having a love affair with the gamekeeper, Mellors, at the Chatterley estate. She almost seems to dislike him as a person at first, but cannot help but being drawn to him physically. Interestingly, the problem that most people have against Mellors is his social class. He is from the working class, although he became a lieutenant while serving in the military in India and is a well read, well reasoned individual. Constance soon realizes that she loves Mellors, but they both have a spouse and are caught in an “impossible” situation. Mellors had joined the military to get away from his domineering wife, Bertha, but never divorced her. Constance has Clifford, a man who she finds herself drifting further away from every day. When Constance finds herself with child, will she stay on as Clifford’s wife and “Lady Chatterley” or will she leave it all to find love?
I really enjoyed this novel. Lady Chatterley’s Lover has a reputation as a “bad” and very sexual novel and I have always been curious to read it. It took the Classics Challenge for me to finally pull it off my shelf. Truthfully, compared to today’s racy romances, the language is no longer shocking or as detailed in the novel. It is shocking though thinking about a book with such frank scenes of sex being published in 1928. I think even more shocking and still unique to even today’s novels; the novel discusses a woman’s need for sexual satisfaction in detail. It was actually rather refreshing to read this as it was a unique and modern prospective even in today’s standards.
Besides being a “racy” novel, Lady Chatterley’s Lover also dealt a lot with class issues. Clifford takes a great interest in the coal mines on his estate and tries to get them to be run more efficiently. It was interesting how Clifford, his friends, and even Connie’s own sister Hilda, view everyone not in their social class as inferior beings. They are disgusted by the fact that Connie could be having relations with such a person although Mellors is an educated man. I also thought it was interesting that Clifford, the model for the aristocracy is a crippled man, while Mellors, the model for the working class individual is a strapping, educated fine figure of a man. I think that this novel is a case for why the aristocracy is a strange and wrong situation. To determine one’s worth in society based on the fact that one’s ancestors made a lot of many and may have somehow obtained a title, does not mean that you are a better individual than your gamekeeper.
Overall, I loved the lyrical pose, the overall storyline, and class discussion in Lady Chatterley’s Lover. Although in the past I have found myself usually disliking books of adultery (Madame Bovary and The Awakening to name two), I found myself drawn and understanding Connie’s predicament. I highly recommend this novel.
This is my second book for the 2010 Classics Challenge.
Book Source: I have an old used hardcover copy that I purchased either at a used book sale, antique store, or garage sale.