Lady Chatterley’s Lover


This book is one of the most famous banned books and I have been long curious to know what all the fuss was about.

The story is pretty basic. Lord Chatterley returns from World War I paralyzed waist down. His new bride Lady Chatterley cares for him after his injury but slowly starts to feel stifled, and longs for something. She soon finds satisfaction in a brief affair with her husband’s friend. When that affair fizzles out, she has an affair with the gamekeeper who maintains Lord Chatterley’s woods. What happens next forms the bulk of the story.

My Review

Never has a book started out so promising and ended so tamely. I absolutely loved, loved, loved the first 50-100 pages of this book. It was gripping, the psychological studies of the various people in the book were absolutely spot on, and the setting very vividly described. And then the affair starts between Lady Chatterley and Oliver Mellors. And things just went absolutely downhill from there.

It’s not that I am a prude that could not tolerate all the sex in the novel. But it was just sooo badly written. And no…I am not going to print some of the language and the words used here. Just let me say, it was most unromantic and almost bestial. I guess that was his intention anyway – to remove all the floweriness that is normally associated with love and show it as it is. All I can say is, it was not my cup of tea.

The dialogues were god-awful and had me cringing with embarrassment for the main pair. While I started off this book feeling very sympathetic to Lady Chatterley and her lover, their constant self-righteousness and lack of any kind of guilt whatsoever banished all that.

There are many reviews of this book that praise how D.H.Lawrence has captured the class distinctions that prevailed during that time. But to me, they all just seemed forced into the novel. It was like D.H.Lawrence was beating me over the head with his message. To a great extent, it’s great that the focus extends to the issues of the time (mainly class, and questions of industrialization vs agrarian culture), but it is done at the expense of developing strong characters.

Another conflict that is played out in the book very subtly is the conflict between the intellectual and the physical. Lord Chatterley is the intellectual. He is constantly thinking of stories to write, and means of improving the productivity of the coal mines that he owns. Lady Chatterley is least interested in these endeavors. She wants a child and a loving marriage – something that Lord Chatterley is unable to give her. He does not mind her having affairs although she must come back to him in the end and she must bear a child only from someone who is his social equal – rules that she promptly violates.

Lady Chatterley herself is a pretty unsatisfying character. She feels stifled by the confines of her setting. But the only outcome that she could devise for herself was love with someone else. Also, she comes across as very dumb and it was hard going reading her incoherent and impractical thoughts on a lot of the central issues of the day. Her lover and gamekeeper Oliver Mellors is also pretty annoying. He is totally against industrialization. He wants to go tell people to not work so hard and to enjoy their lives more…but does he offer any real solutions? No. It’s just random talk. And this pair despise the husband who is actually taking an interest in the coal mines and trying to find out if there is a way to increase profitability out of those dying mines.

Basically, I am trying to say I felt for Lord Chatterley the most. Sure, he is a product of his times – vain and snobbish, but he also seemed the most intelligent, and literate. There is one scene in the book which D.H.Lawrence has written in a way that is meant for us to hate him. This is a scene where his wheelchair gets stuck on a hill and he loses his temper very badly with his wife and the gamekeeper who are trying to help him. Me? I only felt sorry for him. It seemed a very natural reaction for a man to get angry because of his own helplessness.

And I guess, that’s where I have to end this review and say that I am probably still way too conventional for this novel. Sure, I enjoyed it. And I am glad that the ending is fairly satisfactory to all parties concerned. But, I would not call this feminist in any way. It’s good reading, but it’s probably a little dated. There are some valid arguments made, but a lot of it is very clumsily written and a little too heavy handed.

Still worth a read though and definitely a ground-breaking novel for the time!

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  • I don’t agree. Lady Chatterley’s lover is not only about sex or adultery. Read it again and feel the struggle between the characters, between Industrialization and Culture, between Moneypower and Humanity. And… what’s wrong about flowers in pubic hair? Please try again with wide open mind.
    George Knottnerus, writer Ede, NL

  • I read “Lady Chatterley’s Lover” when I was under_age. The book came in my hand in red mold binding to denote adult study. In my concern “Women in Love” is D.H.Lawrence’s best and it seems to me even more pathetic than “Lady Chatterley’s Lover”! But after the War II, the plot became terribly frustrating, when people start thinking Shakespeare was a fairytale writer! The hardcore reality after life & death throughout the years, readers find mental pleasure fantasizing Lawrence type novels! Few years after, in 80’s adult film industries grew like popcorn and they start dramatizing the papers. Gradually in late 90’s the after war novels became obsolete!

  • I couldn’t agree more with your comments on Lady Chatterley. Also, is it me, or is Mellors really not a nice person? He seems, at times, to be cruel and unfeeling. Which doesn’t really match up with the ideas of him being one of the last ‘real men’. 🙁

    • @slightlyshortsighted: Agree with you. I would even go so far as to use the quaint English term “arse”. Really, anyone who has an affair with their employer’s wife while living on the employer’s land does not get any sympathy from me.

  • Your first line kinda sums it up, about a book that begins with so much promise but has a lame ending. What’s more puzzling is that nothing in the book is quite that scandalous to warrant a controversy and a book ban. Perhaps, the moral police should have followed Salman Rushdie’s advice when he said, “It is very easy not to be offended by a book. You just have to shut it.”

    • @Arcopol: I think now it seems very tame, but I think in the 1920s or 30s it may have been a different story altogether. There is a lot of graphic sex in the novel, and even now, some people might be shocked by it.

  • Ava

    You are right.. it is dated. Some of these novels that were hailed as pathbreaking seem rather tame and pointless to us now. But the novels that merely reflect their times seem to live on for ever. Like Charles Dickens’ novels or Jane Austen’s

    • @Ava: So true. I never thought of it like that, but I can still relate to the people in Dickens and Austen, whereas that was not the case here.

  • It was just so boring to me! And yeah – lame-o on the hot stuff. I know it was groundbreaking and that schoolgirls and boys read it and tittered behind hands raised to cover the blushes, but yeah. Not for me.

    I do have it on my shelves, though, because why not? 🙂

  • I know this book is supposed to be deliciously salacious and all, but I just don’t think I’d like it very much. I’ve flipped through it a few times, and I’m just not sure if Lawrence’s writing is a good fit for me. It looks like he writes a lot of his dialogue in dialect, which I think would drive me bonkers!

    • @Steph: I don’t think you will like it too much either. It’s mostly shock value rather than anything else.

  • I started reading this book and couldn’t finish. I flipped ahead to see what was going to happen, and the braiding of flowers into pubic hair was too much for me.

    • @Jenny: Ughh! yes. What a ridiculous scene. Has to go down in the list of all-time worst sex scenes ever written.

  • Yes, some of the dialogue is so forced it’s laughable. And the characters are not very dynamic in my opinion as well.

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  • After all the hype it does seem rather tame from our current perspective. I listened to the book on audio many years ago during a road trip and liked it okay but I can’t help feeling like I missed a lot because my attention tends to drift in and out while listening to audiobooks. I keep thinking I will read it again one of these days but that day has yet to arrive 🙂

    • @Stefanie: I can’t help thinking that it would have been really awkward having that book read aloud :D.

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