Someone once told me that she would never take my advice about what book she would read next. Her argument was that I was too judgemental and choosy, that I re-inforced the snobby lit student stereotype.
She can have the last laugh though. Last year, I bought a second hand copy of Lady Chatterley’s lover because I wanted to read that rebel book that changed the very definition of female sexuality. I ignored that voice in my head that said “But you’re not a fan of DH Lawrence.” (It’s true. When I was 16, I tried reading my mother’s copy of Sons and Lovers and the first page gave me a headache that stayed for a week). I bought the book and I was all set to recommend it to all people who didn’t care either way, when I was done reading it.
The first chapter was…difficult. Still, I was a lit student, if I couldn’t go through this, who would? I laboured on. Oh my god. This was really something else. By chapter three I was coming up for air every three seconds. This. Book. Made. No. Sense. At. All.
Well, it made some sense. Lady Chatterley’s Lover is about the 19-year-old Lady Constance Chatterley who is doomed to a life of no sex because her husband was crippled in the war. Bummer, but you know, this was the early 19th century and women were not really as sexually liberated as they are today. Not Lady C. She wants some all the time.
The first half of the book alternates between Constance’s desperate “physical and sensual” needs and a lot of boring conversations around a fireplace. Her husband’s friends are all pseudo-intellectuals who frankly sound like total pricks. Whatever. Contance just wants to get lucky. She hooks up, briefly, with one of the pseudos. That doesn’t last.
Finally, we reach the place where she spots the gamekeeper. It’s evident that she has a new object of desire. By this point in the book, I was just about stopping myself from blacking out from boredom and irritation. She gets with gamekeeper man and for a while I’m almost relieved because she doesn’t gaze sadly at herself naked anymore but indulges in some serious dirty time. (In the 19th century that meant you wove flowers into a man’s chest hair. I actually laughed out loud at this bit.)
In between all this, you don’t get to feel sorry for the poor Mr Chatterley. He’s busy indulging in some mommy fantasy with his nurse. Good for him.
When I finally finished reading Lady Chatterley’s Lover, I lay for a full minute wondering what had happened to me. Then to clear my head, I picked up my roommate’s copy of The Sands of Time by Sidney Sheldon.