Customer Reviews: Lady Chatterley's Lover (A Penguin Classics Hardcover)
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A book which has achieved more notoriety for its sex scenes (shocking in 1930, when the book was written) than for its character studies, Lady Chatterley's Lover focuses on the affair between Constance, the "sturdy" young wife of Clifford Chatterley, and the gamekeeper of the Chatterleys' estate in the remote midlands. Constance, who married Clifford a month before he left for World War I, has become his caretaker since his return from the war, paralyzed from the waist down and impotent. A writer who surrounds himself with intellectual friends, Clifford regards Connie as his hostess and caregiver and does not understand her abject yearning for some life of her own.

The distance between Constance and Clifford increases when Mrs. Bolton, a widow from the village, becomes his devoted caretaker, and he becomes increasingly dependent upon her. In a remarkable scene, Clifford finally tells Connie that he'd like an heir, and he does not care whom she finds to be the father of "his" child. He believes, in fact, that he could treat her affair as if it were a trip to the dentist. Connie, yearning for an emotional closeness which she has never experienced before, soon becomes involved with Mellors, the estate's gamekeeper. Crude and anti-social, Mellors has an honesty and lack of pretension which Connie finds refreshing.

Throughout the novel, Lawrence creates finely drawn characters whose interactions and gradual changes are explored microscopically. The growth of love between Connie and Mellors is complicated by the increasing self-centeredness of Clifford, whose outrage at rumors of their affair is motivated by Connie's choice of someone so far beneath her. To Clifford, the separation of the social classes is an integral and inevitable part of life. Devoted to achieving financial success even at the expense of his workers, the paralyzed Clifford is depicted as a symbol of unfeeling aristocracy and government. Mellors, by contrast, is vigorous and full of life, a strong man of character who obeys his instincts and stands up for what he believes.

Dealing with themes of love, passion, respect, honor, and the need for understanding, Lady Chatterley's Lover is a complex, character-driven novel which, though dated, celebrates the driving passions which can make life worth living. The romantic scenes and language here are tame by modern standards, and the extreme behavior and willingness to flout convention by Connie and Mellors may be less realistic, psychologically, than what would make sense to a modern reader. Firmly rooted in the 1930's, the novel shows an insensitive Clifford adhering to outdated values, based on outdated economic structures, while Connie and Mellors, freed from these conventions, explore their inner natures and their humanity. n Mary Whipple
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on February 22, 2001
I did not read this book until ten years ago - age forty for those who count - and found it a brilliant work. It touched on every aspect of life in that era, using a difficult premise at the focus.
One reviewer called it 'sexist.' In that era, women were kept removed from the world, so men were the ones who made the initial contacts with reality and their sexuality. If Lawrence had written about that society in any other way, he would have been inaccurate. Lawrence shows the social conflict with both subtlety and brutality. Yet, Mellor IS a lover. There are sexual descriptions which are explicit, but within the coccoon of emotional bondings.
The way that Lawrence has essayed the class structure of England in that era is brave and accurate in all ways. He makes the posturing of the aristocracy both frivilous and full of assinine criteria at the same time he understands the willingness of those in power to offer their lives in the defense of the general welfare.
Lawrence notes again with unpleasant accuracy the detriments of an unchecked Industrial Revolution on the social structure of the time. He has Constance both witness these effects and suffer the olfactory damage.
This is a literary work which has an effect across the full spectrum of the possible. Finely drawn characters searching for a better way to survive their lives in a scenario that is rife with obstacles and unpleasantness. He has the touch of the finest artist working with the lightest gossamer and the blunt force of an ogre swinging a stone axe.
This was published in an abridged version because it was felt that the societal message it conveyed should be allowed to transit the draconian (by the less filtered standards of today) censorship of the era which DID focus on the sexual descriptions but could NOT stop the voice of social criticism any more than the same group could stop Dickens a few decades earlier.
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on February 25, 2006
I was first introduced to D.H. Lawrence in a Brit Lit class when I was in college. We read SONS AND LOVERS, and I was totally blown away by Lawrence's verdant prose and by the novel's brutal, uncomfortable beauty. My professor mentioned LADY CHATTERLEY'S LOVER frequently while we were studying Lawrence, and since then I've wanted to read this later, more well-known, more controversial work. Finally, two years after that class, I got around to it.

LADY CHATTERLEY'S LOVER tells the story of a young woman named Constance Reid, who marries Sir Clifford Chatterley when he's home on leave for a month from the battlefields of World War I. After a month of honeymooning, Clifford must return to the war; and sadly, when he returns six months later, he comes home "more or less in bits," paralyzed from the waist down. The newlyweds settle at Clifford's family home, Wragby, near the industrialized town of Tevershall.

Although Clifford cannot please Constance sexually, he and his wife are intellectually connected; they make love with words, and at first this is enough for Constance. However, a brief affair with one of Clifford's colleagues makes Connie aware of her more carnal needs, of her desire for physical pleasure.

Enter Oliver Mellors, the Chatterleys' groundskeeper who lives a life of solitude in a secluded wooded cabin. In Mellors, Connie is awakened to a higher consciousness, to the power of sexual pleasure and mutual satisfaction. Her relationship with Mellors helps her emerge from her cocoon of prudishness to become a highly sexualized being. The affair continues under Clifford's nose, and he is either too inattentive to notice or just pretends not to.

As a baronet, Clifford is in a position of power, but he finds himself completely powerless. The mines of Tevershall, which he controls, are dying; and not only is his industry dead, so is his sexuality. He, and his business, are impotent. What makes him so interesting is the almost tender way in which Lawrence portrays him. The scene in which he tries desperately to force his wheelchair's dying motor to roll uphill while Connie and Mellors look on is particularly heartbreaking. Clifford is vain, and he has no use for sex or other things of a physical nature, but he also knows that the only way he can produce an heir is if Connie has sex with another man and allows Clifford to claim the child as his own. His lack of power, and his reaction to the knowledge of it, make him compelling.

Unlike Clifford, Connie's other love interest, Oliver Mellors, is confident and unashamed and almost pagan in his celebration of physicality. He's a surprisingly endearing character, a common man with some very intelligent things to say, who isn't intimidated by class boundaries, who doesn't chastise himself for ravishing a married woman.

Constance Chatterley is a woman awakening to her sexual self, and Lawrence chronicles her metamorphosis in explicit, sensitive detail. It's suprising how well Lawrence was able to write from a woman's perspective. However, Connie's perception of her ideal relationship near the end of the novel probably didn't quite ring true for many female readers of the time (at least, not that they would admit): "Complete intimacy! She supposed that meant revealing everything concerning yourself to the other person, and his revealing everything concerning himself. But that was a bore. All that weary self-consciousness between a man and a woman! a disease!" It's observations like this that made LADY CHATTERLEY'S LOVER so controversial.

LADY CHATTERLEY'S LOVER has probably remained so popular for 80 years because of its sexual content, which was undoubtedly completely immoral for the time period in which is was written. But of course the content is not anything too shocking in today's world of pay-per-view pornography and busty women on the covers of erotic fiction sold in supermarkets everywhere. However, this book shouldn't be bunched into that category, by today's standards or any other age's; I would like to think LADY CHATTERLEY'S LOVER is still popular today because of Lawrence's incredibly brave writing.

Lawrence expounds on many controversial ideas in this, his last major novel before his death in 1930. The novel is rife with criticism of post-WWI England and the failures of industrialization to support a growing economy. Lawrence believes sensuality should be the means of connecting with environment, not through the workings of iron and gritty coal. In LADY CHATTERLEY'S LOVER, industry is impotent; but men and women are sexually alive.

My only issue with the novel is that some of the sex scenes are absolutely ridiculous, and read like Lawrence was writing them merely for the shock factor. His language is often unnecessarily crude, and the whole "John Thomas" and "Lady Jane" thing is just silly. However, this ridiculousness is balanced nicely with some beautiful, sensual descriptions: Connie's first orgasm, the use of twined flowers to symbolize purity in love, the beautiful language Mellors uses in his letter to Connie at the end of the novel: "I love the chastity now that it flows between us. It is like fresh water and a river of cool water in my soul."

It's undeniable that Lawrence's prose is absolutely intoxicating and exciting, and he proves it again and again in the pages of this novel, written even as his life was ending. And that's what makes LADY CHATTERLEY'S LOVER memorable: not the sex, but the words used to describe the sex. LADY CHATTERLEY'S LOVER is an intimate look at love and sex, a novel whose popularity has remained for 80 years--and probably will remain far into the future, and rightfully so.
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on June 24, 2002
When I first began to read Lady Chatterley's Lover I thought it was going to be quite a chore. I'm used to flowery language and all that, but I just wasn't in the mood for what I anticipated to be a sex-charged love story. Much to my surprise I got MUCH more from this wonderful classic.
D.H. Lawrence makes some striking observations about the state of the social classes in post WWI England, as well as providing some good insights into tough individual decisions we make in regard to relationships. I had limited knowledge of the post-war subject beforehand, but I felt that I learned a great deal in the process of reading. At times the book seemed repetitive, as if Lawrence were beating me over the head with his message, sacrificing character and plot in the process, but after all was said and done I couldn't say that it was a bad book. It's a very insightful, multi-layered work and I'm very glad I read it. The fact that the book was widely banned from publication in its early days is just another tempting reason to read it although, by today's standards, what was so risqué then borders on the ridiculous for us now. As long as you remind yourself of the time period in which it was written you'll be just fine...the laughs and raised eyebrows in conjunction with more serious themes are a pleasant mix.
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VINE VOICEon November 28, 2004
DH Lawrence's Lady Chatterley's Lover remains infamous for the explicit description of sexual encounters between a upper class housewife and a laborer, and eventhough it features among the top lists of the novels written in last centuty, like many others I started reading it with suspicision. What I found was a world with vividly described characters, a frank writing to the degree it talks about all aspects of human emotion, and sexual ones too. Unlike the mainstream writers before him, Lawrence writes a powerful and passionate novel, full of sensuality and natural bursts of energy. So in some respects it is a mature novel, but it if neither porno, nor as sexual by modern standards as it was made out to be in early last century. In fact, by present standards, it does not shock any grown ups, maybe can provide the shock shared by people in 1930s and 1940s to enthusiastic readers in late teenage or early twenties, or for someone whose diet was entirely Victorian before this.

So after you get through and over with your own the prejudices and the infamous part, you start to see why Lawrence is one writer from the last century you just should not miss. His description of nature, of forests, of people, emotions, thoughts and actions of both men and women, his references to class struggles, his lyrical style and most importantly the similies swept me off my feet. His words move before your eyes, recreating beautiful imagery, reconstructing (the infamous) Connie, the laborer Mellors or Connie's cripple husband Clifford as completely humanly, falling, fearless or failing, sexually charged or bored or incapable, imaginative, passionate or hateful, lively, lusty or invalid, very lifelike people! The choice of these three characters provides him the ideal meat to create such beautiful poetic, intense prose. So much so, that after finishing this novel you rush off to the store and find yet another Lawrence level. (Picked Rainbow, was equally delighted and amazed:), but that is another story)!

I think the most important part of this novel is the sheer brilliance of the style in which it is written. Poetic short sentences, with astute comparisons and frank expression, run from sentence to sentence, and sway you in a strong current of his writing, while you are not only enjoying the ride, but also noticing the beautiful, changing, evolving scenery that you encounter at each instant. This is indeed a rich novel, packed with a natural beauty of human emotions and likes and dislikes, with poetic fervor of the writer that will grip any reader with the beauty of his prose. Unlike most other famous novels, this novel is written in simple English, is short in length, readable at breakneck speed, though so charged and passionate that you have to stop to breathe every few pages, and very open and direct, and yet has exceedingly introspective characters, the progression of their thoughts and feelings are inetgral part of the novel.

Read it. Sexuality is no more than found on any adult rating moved these days. Beauty of prose one of the best of the authors of last century. If you have always loved 19th century authors, read most of the romantic classics by Bronte sisters, Austen, Dickens or Thackerey, read this novel and notice why Lawrence shocks and yet the brilliance of his work soon shifts the spotlight to his name into one of the most important novelists of last century.
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on November 6, 2006
Constance Chatterley's gamekeeper, Mellors, brings out the animal in Her Ladyship, and he extends the protection to her that he does to all the wild game in the wood. It is Mellors himself who, in the end, understands that his own baronet, Sir Clifford, is the greatest threat to his most vulnerable charge. Constance's own father, Sir Malcolm, fails utterly to appreciate the situation when he refers to Mellors as the quintessential poacher himself. Sir Malcolm's mistake is that he, along with all of polite society, fails to recognize that humans are, in fact, animals, and that the thrill of conjugal intimacy unites us with all other fauna. We strayed from this notion long ago, with Plato extolling virtuous love, and referring to passions and desires as evil (Book IX of the Phaedrus).

Sir Clifford, who is impotent as a result of war injuries, suggests to his wife that she have a discrete affair in order to produce an heir to the estate. "I don't care who his father may be as long as he is a healthy man not below normal intelligence." His admonition that Connie be careful not to fall in love in the process foreshadows his tragedy. When we see the gamekeeper, Mellors, placing pheasant eggs into the nests of chickens, in order that they may be reared by surrogate hens, we know, before any of the protagonists themselves, just who Lady Chatterley's surrogate husband will be. Ultimately Connie discovers that Mellors has that rarest of qualities in a man; he enjoys making love only when his partner enjoys it, too. These feelings are a sharp contrast with her experience, and they are both immediately ensnared in a tense carnal conspiracy.

In the process, we are treated to D. H. Lawrence's craft:

"Both sisters mixed with...the young Cambridge group, the group that stood for 'freedom' and flannel trousers, and soft shirts open at the neck, and a well-bred sort of emotional anarchy..., and an ultra-sensitive sort of manner."

Tevershall village had "rows of wretched, small begrimed brick houses with black slate roofs for lids, sharp angles, and willful blank dreariness."

One attraction of her first lover, Michalis, is that he had his own ideas and stated them clearly; "he didn't merely walk round them with millions of words, in the parade of the life of the mind."

Sir Clifford "seemed alert in the foreground, but the background was like the Midlands atmosphere, haze, smoky mist."

Before her affair with Mellors, Connie saw sex as "just a cocktail term for an excitement that bucked you up for a while, then left you more raggy than ever."

Connie realizes of Clifford that, "like many insane people, his insanity might be measured by the things he was not aware of: the great desert tracts in his consciousness."

"She saw her own nakedness in his eyes..."

This book will not titillate the reader of 2008 as it did the reader of 1928. The reaction against it then exposed both widespread hypocrisy and a scientifically illiterate, pre-Kinsey society which extolled Platonic values, and in the process denied the incomparable delight of primitive carnal intimacy.
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on October 11, 2012
I have read this book, Lady Chatterly's Lover, several times, but was really surprised by the format and publication of this copy. There were several things that I was suspicious about that made me feel like this was definitely a bogus copy. The format of the writing and pages were terrible with lots of spacing within the paragraphs and sentences. When I looked for a copyright , publication or date published there was nothing on the tittle page, on the book or in the back of the book. There was nothing! How can Amazon sell or have a seller send out a bogus book ? Aren't there certain copyrights on books that have already been published and if some one produces a copy of that book, shouldn't there be some identification as the the who, what and where it was published??? Don't have my shipping information and can't pull it up on my account, but would like to identify the seller and report them to the Amazon police!!!!!
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on April 27, 2005
Constance Chatterley, a beautiful and passionate woman, is deeply unhappy in her marriage to Sir Clifford Chatterley who became an invalid after having been injured in the First World War. His physical condition is mirrored in Constance's emotional paralysis. When she meets the gamekeeper Mellors, she finds refuge in his arms and feels regenerated. Together they shield themselves from the chaos of the outer world and move to the sanctum of the inner world of fulfilment.

The character of Constance is an interesting one because there is a certain complexity in her: she is both in touch with nature, yet educated; sensitive, yet wise; female in her sensitivity, yet almost male in her strength and attitude. She is a woman with a social position who is drawn to an outsider of a lower class. The structure of the novel is also interesting because it shows three stages in Constance's relationship with her husband and Mellors. In the first phase, she denies her husband, responding to a failed marriage, she finds refuge with Mellors. Then begins the second stage when Constance regenerates in the peaceful world of her lover's hut. Finally in the third stage, she escapes the world of Wragby Hall as she leaves for a holiday to Venice. There she takes the resolution never to return to Clifford's world. This resolution is taken all the more easily by Constance because being away from Wragby Hall she can reconsider her commitment to Mellors while their relationship is gradually exposed as a scandal which really prevents her from returning to her husband. Then the novel's central struggle shifts from that between a Lady and a gamekeeper to that between Constance's and Mellor's commitment to each other and the forces hostile to their relationship.

Constance's transformations occur in an set of tensions and an artistic dualism: tenderness against apathy, nature against culture, wood against stone, flesh against intellect, frankness against manipulation or fertility against sterility. These tensions strongly mark the first phase of the novel where Wragby Hall symbolises sterility and spiritual and emotional apathy, will and intellectual control; the hut symbolises the free play of the instinct and sensual pleasure, the haven of tenderness. The two worlds cannot interact: Clifford intrudes into nature with his mechanical wheelchair as much as Mellors is an intruder and outsider inside Wragby Hall. Perhaps the most striking opposition is that between silence and talk. As Constance and Mellors retreat into the sheltered world of the hut, the author insists on the stillness and the silence of the place, focuses on the internal and emotional feelings since both characters are fugitives from "the outer world of chaos." That's why enclosures are so present in the novel: the hut, the clearing, the cottage, an enclosed yard, a bedroom, as many shelters from psychological suffering. Mellors is "afraid of society" whereas Constance recoils from the "insanity of the whole civilised species." They both linger in pure silence, even anonymity since they hardly ever call each other by name.

D.H. Lawrence's critics have deplored the numerous love making scenes in which Constance and Mellors induldge and which are described in a surprisingly open language, considering the epoch in which the novel was published. But these scenes show how Constance is "reborn", how sex is the act that most completely unites a man and a woman and its power of renewal is attuned to day, season or year - it is in this novel the most regenerative experience possible. There is indeed strong hope that John Thomas will be reunited with lady Jane in the future! In this sense, "Lady Chatterley's Lover" ranks among the 20th century most extraordinary achievements.
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on December 15, 2008
A 'Novel' Guest Review By Leigh Wood

After one too many viewing's of the 1992 BBC production of Lady Chatterley, I finally broke down and read the book. I thought the 1928 unedited version of Lady Chatterley's Lover by D.H. Lawrence would be a tough book to find. Expensive, rare, old leather, smelly, buried in an antiquarian store-that type of book. Indeed I was very pleased to find the 1928 Unexpurgated Oriali Edition in paperback at my local Borders. $4.95!

I wrapped Mists of Avalon as quickly as possible and avoided watching the film before I plunged into Lover. I read other writers' criticisms on D.H. Lawrence and his works before purchasing the book, and I knew the book and movie didn't have the same ending. Of course, I also knew the book's controversial reputation and supposedly salacious use of naughty words and torrid sex talk. My edition opened with forwards and introductions detailing the book's tough road to publication and the aftermath of censorship. Although this story is fairly well known in literary circles, this introduction is informative, with details and facts on the books printing, pirated editions, and trial information. Even if one was a toe towards prudish, you can't not be interested in reading Lady Chatterley's Lover after these words of praise.

Although the 1992 adaptation by Ken Russell is quite faithful, Lawrence's work is naturally bigger and more detailed than what can be translated to the screen. I noticed many cases where the film had taken word for word from the book, and also where scenes had been combined or moved and relocated for the film. Still, much was remaining to surprise me. After her Baronet husband's paralysis during World War I, young Constance Chatterley begins to question her mundane existence as Lady of Wragby Hall and nursemaid to her crippled husband. They are educated and literate, but as she listens to her husband and his friends chit chat about war, sex, society, and money, Connie becomes more and more disenchanted with her upper class standing. After a very dissatisfying affair with playwright Michaelis, Connie begins a saucy love affair with her husband's gamekeeper Olivier Mellors. Despite the fear of being caught and societal pressures upon them, Connie and Mellors continue to meet. When the scandal comes out, they take measures to secure a life together, despite the class divisions against them.

The great part of Lady Chatterley's Lover is the love discovered between the titular characters, so I was intrigued by the intitial Michaelis relationship. We learn much about Connie intellectually and sexually through this affair, internal thoughts and disappointing feelings that can't be show onscreen. I've read other fans commentaries online about Joely Richardson's performance as Lady Chatterley in the BBC version. Women sometimes find her portrayal conceded and flaky. Connie has nothing to loose, where Mellors has everything to loose. In the novel, this is certainly not the case. Connie is already nothing, an emotionless drone whose stature gives her nothing.

Likewise the Mellors in print has everything to gain. His backstory is greatly detailed by Lawrence, yet he maintains his strong silent and mysterious air. Once on officer during the war and a well educated pupil then tutor, Mellors could have the upper class at his fingertips, yet he chooses to be left alone. This book is not just about sex. Our couple is disenchanted with war, industry, money, and the people around them who think that those things give meaning to life. Some of Mellors' dialogue is written in dialect and for an American like me, it took a double take at first. However, Mellors can also speak perfect English, and does so when he chooses, not when people expect it of him. In fact, his speech is often broken when he thinks it will upset people, such as Connie's image conscious sister Hilda.

Lawrence spends a great many of the early chapters discussing artists and their self important selves, yet it is a great and subtle revelation when Connie discovers books in Mellor's house. Its often claimed not to be Lawrence's best work, but Lady Chatterley's Lover intricately weaves the love story between Connie and Mellors with multiple commentaries from Lawrence. Without being too obvious with his author views, Lawrence questions the English post war Jazz society and classes as well as the later artistic society Lawrence often found himself outcast from. This catch-22 is again mirrored in the novel. Where Connie and Mellors affair crosses class divides and angers their entire community, her husband Clifford's unusual relationship with his nurse Mrs. Bolton is entirely acceptable. I love Charles Dickens for his veiled or outright social commentaries, and I dare say Lawrence is on par here in asking those same society questions. Who decides these social barriers and imobilities? Why are some invisible to these restraints via power, position, and money? What is the right reason to circumvent these divides and do something about oneself?

Lady Chatterley's Lover has kept me thinking about itself long after I've finished the book. I'd like to read it again and find answers to these questions. Although it is a thorough British book in time and place, Lover also presents very modern thoughts and conjecture. After Lawrence's difficulty with self publishing and piracy, the book was banned until a 1960 obscenity trial. As I mentioned earlier, I didn't find the book all that shocking. Was it because I was familiar with the film version, or is it because the book perhaps caused our current liberal ideas and desensitizing? Four letter words and sex talk have always existed, but Lawrence's honest treatment of the subjects opened a Pandora's box on erotica, pornography, nudity, and bad words in art, literature, and film. I can't say the same for other works, but Lover is actually a very tasteful book, rather innocent in a way. The rebirth of the main characters through their love for one another. Lawrence was tempted to call the story `Tenderness' and the title would have fit.

Although the work speaks for itself when it comes to sex, society, and even religion, my edition of Lady Chatterley's Lover came with `A Propos on Lady Chatterley's Lover' by D. H. Lawrence himself. After finishing the book on a positive note, I was disappointed in this thirty page essay. One should always let his work speak for itself, and there's no need for this redundant and overlong speech from Lawrence. From World War I to Christianity, Lawrence's essays should be cut in half or is perhaps better for a college classroom discussion.

If you're looking for porn or sexual gratification, you won't find it in Lady Chatterley's Lover. Most certainly the book is not for everyone, and if frank sexual talk and situations is not your cup of tea, do skip this read. I'lm a fairly straight laced individual, and I only second guessed the book once. In Chapter 16 or 19, I thought the anal sex euphuisms were getting a bit redundant. I giggled a few times over the language, but was moved by other beautiful descriptions from Lawrence. At first I looked for Lover in Borders' small erotica section, but Lawrence's works are found in the general fiction section and in the classics section at my local library.
Lady Chatterley's Lover is by no means for children or prudes, but it is a fine novel that has transcended time and place. We may be too loose or vulgar in our society today-celebrities with wardrobe malfunctions and half naked women in music videos. Lover and the books in its wake may have caused this openness, but the book also reminds me of the good things about he past. Women wore gloves, men tips their hats to all, and writers wrote great books.
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on December 22, 1998
One can learn so much from Lawrence's wonderful sense of feminine intuition about people, love, circumstance, politics, environment and the choices humans make, that one read of this book is simply not enough. Personally, I have read this book eight or nine times (usually once a year)and never tire of Lawrence's insight into human nature and why we do the things we do. Don't let the title fool you. This book is much less about sex than it is about us taking charge of our own destiny and not letting the machinery of life bog us down. If you are at a crossroads in your life, you must read this book. If not, you will still enjoy this novel greatly. It is highly recommended. If I could, I would give it ten stars!
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