Book Review: Women In Love by D.H. Lawrence

Hello, my name is Judith! Welcome to my blog, ReadandReview.

Women In Love is the sequel to D.H. Lawrence’s novel, The Rainbow. It  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 / 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’ and at one point the characters decide to sit naked in a meadow, just because they feel like it.

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.

Star Rating: 2/5 Stars

Thank you for reading my blog post! Please click ‘Like’ to support my blog, and ‘Follow’ this blog if you would like to read more book reviews like this.

Have you read this book? What did you think? 

– Judith


This post was last updated in January 2020.

Book Review: The Rainbow by D.H. Lawrence

Hello, my name is Judith! Welcome to my blog, ReadandReview.

The Rainbow by D.H. Lawrence is a novel about three generations of the Brangwen family living in Nottinghamshire. Children are born, children grow up, children get married, but through all three generations, the Brangwens struggle to feel content within the confinement of English society.

The Rainbow is written in D.H. Lawrence’s usual style; stories of ordinary men and women, regional accents, countryside descriptions of Nottinghamshire and sexual encounters.

Nothing really happens beyond births, love affairs, marriages, and deaths. The book is more focused on characters and relationships, particularly between lovers or spouses. There are quite a few marriages, yet none of them are particularly happy – characters get married quickly out of infatuation, then grow to despise their spouse or manipulate them. This is quite a sad and unfortunate portrayal of marriage.

Lydia Brangwen, then Anna Brangwen, then Ursula Brangwen – the key women of each generation – take about a third of the narrative each, as the book describes how each of them become increasingly unhappy with their role in society.

In particular, Ursula struggles to fit in to society because of the confinements placed upon women. She doesn’t want to stay at home; she wants to work and make something of herself. She also doesn’t seem drawn to the notion of true love or marriage. Subsequently, she finds herself in love affairs that lead nowhere, as she struggles to find fulfilment for her passionate desires. At one point, Ursula even questions whether what she really wants is to just be promiscuous.

Despite the theme of unhappiness and desperation for a purpose in life, which pervades the novel, the book doesn’t offer any answers.

The Rainbow is quite bleak: nobody is ever truly happy and it doesn’t end with a resolution. I probably would not have read it, were it not a book on my university reading list. I’ve read other D.H. Lawrence novels before, such as Lady Chatterley’s Lover and Sons and Lovers, and for me, The Rainbow does not stand out as much.

Star Rating: 2/5 Stars

Thank you for reading my blog post! Please click ‘Like’ to support my blog, and ‘Follow’ this blog if you would like to read more book reviews like this.

Have you read this book? What did you think? 

– Judith


This post was last updated in January 2020.

Book Review: The Help by Kathryn Stockett

Hello, my name is Judith! Welcome to my blog, ReadandReview.

The Help by Kathryn Stockett is fantastic.

It’s a novel consisting of a collection of fictional first-person perspectives about black domestic servants working in white households, in 1960s Mississippi.

However, The Help is not written like a textbook or documentary. Whilst a work of fiction, The Help was undoubtedly inspired by real events and real people. It’s personal, raw, emotional and shocking.

Stockett’s writing perfectly reflects the different characters’ personalities. There are three main narrative perspectives; Aibileen Clark and Minny Jackson are both maids in white households, subject to constant racial prejudice. Eugenia Phelan is a white woman who realises the shocking racism in her town and seeks to expose it.

My favourite character was Aibileen, who works for Elizabeth Leefolt . She’s incredibly loving towards the child in her care, humble, respectful. The strength she demonstrates in working dutifully in the face of the many racist comments made about her by her employer – is remarkable.

Given the subject matter, The Help is obviously quite dark and serious in places. Yet, there are some light and funny moments as friendships grow between different characters.

I also found it interesting to read about Minny’s perspective, who works for Celia Foote.

Miss Celia, as Minny calls her, lacks the ‘Stepford Wife’ personality to fit in to society. She doesn’t even know how to cook and is scorned by the other women; she’s never invited for afternoon tea or card games and seems to be truly alone. and she feels truly alone. However, Minny and Miss Celia seem to bond somewhat, in their shared experiences of feeling like an outcast.

Whilst The Help is clearly designed to highlight and condemn racial discrimination, it also draws attention to the varying social prejudices that existed (and still do exist) in communities as well.

I strongly recommend this book; The Help is a gripping read and I didn’t realise quite how much I’d enjoy it.

Star Rating: 5/5 Stars

Thank you for reading my blog post! Please click ‘Like’ to support my blog, and ‘Follow’ this blog if you would like to read more book reviews like this.

Have you read this book? What did you think? 

– Judith


This post was last updated in January 2020.

Themes in: Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

Hello, my name is Judith! Welcome to my blog, ReadandReview. Instead of a book review, this will be thematic book discussion.

Great Expectations is the first novel I ever wrote a blog post about. It was written by Charles Dickens and published in 1861. Great Expectations is a bildungsroman (‘coming of age’) novel about the growth and personal development of an orphan nicknamed Phillip Pirrip, affectionately known as Pip.

Criminality

Crime is key to the novel. Firstly, as a young boy, Pip meets Magwitch, a criminal. From this encounter, Pip grows fearful of criminality. Even once he has grown up and, due to fortuitous circumstances, becomes involved in middle-class society, he is worried his childhood encounters with a criminal have tainted him forever.

Criminality also adopts different forms in the novel.

For example, Magwitch is a stereotypical criminal. He speaks with a local dialect, uses slang, is dirty and violent, and even threatens to cut Pip’s throat. Dickens draws on an obvious stereotype: if he looks like a criminal and sounds like a criminal, he probably is a criminal. However, this in itself is ironic; young Pip doesn’t even know what a convict is, so he does not make these assumptions, and helps Magwitch escape.

‘I put my mouth into the forms of saying to Joe, “What’s a convict?”’

As a second example, Compeyson is not a stereotypical criminal. He looks like a gentleman, he is well-spoken, educated, charming, although perhaps a little arrogant.

Yet, when Magwitch reveals to Pip he and Compeyson are both criminals, and were involved in the same counterfeiting scheme, this is a complete shock. Magwitch was given 14 years in prison – Compeyson was only given 7, as Compeyson’s lawyer stressed the differences in social class between the two men; Compeyson didn’t fit the mould of a stereotypical criminal, essentially. Thus, Dickens is critiquing how his audience viewed criminality, highlighting that society is more complicated than just dividing people into “good” or “bad”.

Class

Speaking of class, this is also another interesting theme in the novel. Dickens critiques the binary notion of just “lower-class” and “upper-class”. Social mobility – whether rising in class or lowering in status – was increasingly possible in the Victorian period.

For example, Pip makes the declaration:

‘I want to be a gentleman’

As a boy, he is initially apprenticed as a blacksmith by his guardian and brother-in-law, Joe. When he suddenly receives finances from an anonymous benefactor, he moves to London as a young man and is able to better his circumstances, experiencing and enjoying city society. This highlights the extreme fluidity there is in social class, and challenges the notion that individuals are born and “trapped” in one way of live forever.


Thank you for reading my blog post! Please click ‘Like’ to support my blog, and ‘Follow’ this blog if you would like to read more content like this, as well as plenty of book reviews.

Have you read this book? What did you think? 

– Judith


This post was last updated in January 2020.

Book Review: A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess

Hello, my name is Judith! Welcome to my blog, ReadandReview.

A Clockwork Orange is a dystopian novel by Anthony Burgess set in a future English society where extreme youth violence is common.

‘He and his gang rampage through a dystopian future, hunting for terrible thrills.’

The book’s protagonist, Alex, narrates his violent exploits of and experiences with authorities who attempt to reform his behaviour.

As I first started reading A Clockwork Orange, I thought I wouldn’t be able to finish it! While a short book, is written in unusual futuristic slang that I initially found hard to understand. This is the same barrier that I faced when reading Trainspotting.

However, the brain is a remarkable thing and adjusts to new styles of writing relatively quickly. Once I was accustomed to the language, the narrative was fairly easy to follow.

In another similarity with Trainspotting, Alex is a roguish protagonist who speaks directly to the audience through direct address – using phrases like ‘Your Humble Narrator’ – which creates a jovial tone, even while he describes the horrible things he’s seen, said and done.

The plot is filled with taboo acts and violence, and the attempts to correct Alex’s behaviour seem akin to experimentation on animals.

Alex’s acts of violence upon others are contrasted with the acts of “corrective” violence imposed upon him by the state, suggesting that within certain contexts, inflicting cruelty on others is acceptable or even advocated as the right thing to do.

The book also questions free will: If it were possible to eradicate someone’s free will to prevent them committing a crime, is that acceptable? Yet the removal of free will leaves the individual completely at risk of being controlled by another – another who may utilise this power for ill themselves.

I don’t think A Clockwork Orange answers these questions, and these are only my initial thoughts upon a first reading. Hopefully, once I’ve done further analysis of the book, I’ll be able to look at these questions again.

Star Rating: 4/5 Stars

Thank you for reading my blog post! Please click ‘Like’ to support my blog, and ‘Follow’ this blog if you would like to read more book reviews like this.

Have you read this book? What did you think? 

– Judith


This post was last updated in January 2020.

Book Review: Middlemarch by George Eliot

Hello, my name is Judith! Welcome to my blog, ReadandReview.

Middlemarch is a book by George Eliot, set in the fictitious Midlands town of Middlemarch during 1829–32, following the lives of a huge range of characters. Middlemarch addresses topics such as courtship and marriage, as well as politics and facing the prospect of unwelcome change as a community.

I enjoyed the beginning of the book; Eliot’s writing is witty and sarcastic, which is particularly noticeable when characters quip about the sexes.

  • “I don’t see how a man is to be good for much unless he has some one woman to love him dearly.”
  • “We must not have you getting too learned for a woman, you know.”

Middlemarch is not a romance, unlike Austen’s works for instance. Subsequently, Eliot’s characters are more realistic than Austen’s stereotypical romantic characters. The people in Middlemarch speak and behave like real people, in ways that Austen characters never did, making foolish choices which then impacted the plot.

Having said that, I didn’t actually enjoy many of the characters in Middlemarch, or their respective storylines. I liked seeing the life of Dorothea unfold, but I simply did not care for the seemingly endless chapters set in offices, reading about Lydgate and Bulstrode discussing various administrative duties.

As I got about halfway through the book, Middlemarch became much more of a challenge to read and complete, much like when I read the lengthy classics Anna Karenina or War and Peace.

I was glad to finally finish Middlemarch but ultimately, I don’t think it was the right book for me.

Star Rating: 3/5 Stars

Thank you for reading my blog post! Please click ‘Like’ to support my blog, and ‘Follow’ this blog if you would like to read more book reviews like this.

Have you read this book? What did you think? 

– Judith


This post was last updated in January 2020.

[Guest Post] Film Review: T2 Trainspotting

Hello, my name is Judith! Welcome to my blog, ReadandReview.

This a collaboration with Patrick from The Blog From Another World. The following blog post was written by Patrick.


I love Danny Boyle and I love Trainspotting. When T2 was announced, I was worried that the film would be a cash grab, a lazy retread. Paul Greengrass and Matt Damon had already disappointed me with Jason Bourne (2016), which was an ill-thought through bore. However, after watching Trainspotting again for my article with ReadandReview2016, the stakes were raised very high. Impossibly high?

No. Not at all. Danny Boyle is the finest British filmmaker in modern cinema. There is no doubt in my mind about this. T2 is fantastic. Possibly even better than the first.

Boyle performs camera moves, positions and set pieces which are truly thrilling. He and his director of photography Anthony Dodd Mantle work with light and shadow and perspective to create meaning.

He’s a director who inspires me and this might just be the biggest risk of his career. He pulls it off and shows a maturity and an evolution of film-making style which makes us understand just how much experience and persistence matters. In preparation for watching T2 I watched A Life Less Ordinary, the Boyle directed film which came after Trainspotting and before The Beach. The film is a flawed and underwhelming work despite a career best performance by Cameron Diaz.

My reason for watching A Life Less Ordinary was to remind myself of Boyle on a bad day (but even his low point is better than many director’s best).   Slumdog Millionaire and Steve Jobs are big favourites of mine but T2 takes his best work and betters it.  It’s funny, sad, euphoric, tragic and utterly brilliant.

The story of T2 follows Renton, Sick Boy (now Simon), Begbie and Spud as they deal with the modern world twenty years after the events of the first film.

This film is a wonderful look at ageing, our modern world and the responsibilities of adulthood. The characters feel deeper and emotionally richer although some plot strands don’t go anywhere and seem added in for nostalgia’s sake (the re-appearance of heroin is pointless).

The four leads are superb. Ewan McGregor is the best he’s been since the original film, Robert Carlyle has aged Begbie in the most perfect way and Ewan Bremner is the heart of the film. Only Jonny Lee Miller isn’t stretched, with Sick Boy always being a secondary character.

This film has a rollicking pace and heaps of style. It captures the spirit of the original whilst moving in an entirely new direction, away from drugs and toward some kind of recognition. For the first time, Renton is forced to face the consequences of his actions and it’s an explosive moment. I personally loved this scene (not a spoiler) which captures the hard edged but joyful tone of the original and is a perfect storm of music, action, comedy and character.

This film is the best thing I’ve seen all year. It would take a lot to top this, and I can’t wait!


Thank you for reading this blog post! Please click ‘Like’ to support my blog, and ‘Follow’ this blog if you would like to read more content like this, as well as plenty of book reviews.

Have you seen this film? What did you think?

– Judith and Patrick


This post was last updated in January 2020.