Book Review: Women In Love

Women In Love is the sequel to D.H. Lawrence’s novel, The Rainbow.

Women In Love follows the sisters Gudrun and Ursula Brangwen as they embark on adult life and pursue romantic relationships and other freedoms.  Gudrun begins an ultimately destructive relationship with Gerald Crich, whilst Ursula begins a loving relationship with Rupert Birkin. Various characters and events draw on parts of Lawrence’s own biography and experiences.

The book contains lots of social commentary, on topics such as the meaning of life, the need for social reform, and the desire for or repulsion of marriage. I don’t share many of the views Lawrence conveys through the voices of his characters, which made it difficult to read, as I felt his views on marriage were overly critical and harsh.

This novel feels “freer” and less restrained than The Rainbow though; characters do what they want and say what they want, which made some parts of the story more exciting and fun.

However, Women In Love is a psychological novel, meaning it is focused on feelings and thought processes, rather than following a straightforward plot. Subsequently, I found it difficult to read through and finish; I found I’d written ‘difficult to read’ a number of times when making notes for this review.

There are lots of sensational events, as well as plenty of sensual language and experiences – a lot of which I found quite odd. For example, nature is referred to as ‘the marriage bed’ (what?!) and at one point the characters decide to sit naked in a meadow, just because.

The ending to the novel was very abrupt and offered no resolution to anything, which made Women In Love quite tragic. The title is also an irony, as the book is supposedly about women in love yet most of the time, the women are clearly unhappy and clearly not in love. This made the overall tone of the book quite depressing, and less enjoyable as a result.

This is probably the most difficult D.H. Lawrence novel I’ve ever read. If you enjoy Lawrence’s writing style or if you have read The Rainbow, you may find Women In Love interesting. If not, I probably wouldn’t recommend.

– Judith


Halloween Book Review: The Monkey’s Paw

The Monkey’s Paw is a Gothic short story published in 1902 and written by W.W. Jacobs. It is about a monkey’s paw, which is said to have supernatural qualities and grant three wishes to its owner. However, legend has it that each wish granted has a devastating consequence.

The story has 3 characters: Mr and Mrs White and their son, Herbert. They come into possession of a mummified monkey’s paw. They begin to make their wishes, when tragically, their son dies.

“If you could have another three wishes,” said the old man, eyeing him keenly, “would you have them?”

The Monkey’s Paw uses Gothic conventions and underlines the theme of the supernatural, though whether supernatural forces are really at work in this story is left for the reader to decide. This is echoed by the open-ended conclusion to the story; as there are many different ways to interpret the ending, and decide for yourself what happened to Herbert White.

Although W.W. Jacobs was best-known for his humorous short stories, he did also write ghost stories, in addition to The Monkey’s Paw, such as The Toll House and Jerry Bunder. I’ve never read anything by Jacobs before though, and as I enjoyed The Monkey’s Paw, I may read more of his stories in the future.

Classic Gothic short stories are such fun – especially around Halloween – and are so different to the modern horror genre. If you’re in the mood for a quick, spooky read, why not try The Monkey’s Paw?

– Judith

Halloween Book Review: The Black Cat

‘The fury of a demon instantly possessed me.’

‘The Black Cat’ is a short story by Edgar Allan Poe, an American writer famous for his Gothic stories and poems.

‘The Black Cat’ is told from the first-person perspective of a man who adores animals. Subsequently, he and his wife own many pets – including a black cat, his favourite animal. However, once the narrator becomes drunk, he begins to behave increasingly violently towards his wife and pets, with uncontrollable intentions. The narrator is then haunted by the realisation of what he has done…

The key themes of ‘The Black Cat’ are insane and unreliable characters, the dangerous consequences of heavy drinking, and the burden of a guilty conscience.

I really liked ‘The Black Cat’. It was a quick read (as short stories tend to be) and well-written, containing all the traditional conventions of a Gothic ghost story.

As a fan of the Gothic genre, and contemporary horror writers like Stephen King, who was himself inspired by Edgar Allan Poe, I can’t believe I haven’t read any of his short stories until now.

I strongly recommend ‘The Black Cat’ for any fans of the Gothic, horror, or paranormal genres – perfect for reading in the run-up to Halloween.