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.