on 30 December 2013
My comment is purely about this particular print of the book. It has obviously been printed by someone who has no love or appreciation for the pleasure of book reading. The font is ridiculously small, two typos on page 1, and no thought to the layout of sentences, paragraphs and chapters - they all just roll into one, without any breaks at all. Tellingly there is no publisher's information. Really disappointed me and I would hunt out another edition if you're keen to read.
on 24 October 2012
I haven't read any DH Lawrence for many, many years, but watching an item about him on TV recently, re-awakened my interest, so I acquired a few Kindle books by Lawrence to reaquaint myself with what had been one of my favourite authors.
Have to say I found this book a bit heavy going, as progress is quite slow, but I suppose this is part of the overall atmosphere Lawrence was trying to portrait. This is a tale on a grey life lived in a grey town. It definitely lacks the kind of urgency and excitement that is evident in Lady Chatterley or Sons and Lovers. That said, it is worth a read.
Was irritated with 'z's instead of 's' in words like recognise and realise, and only one 'f' in gofer - which insidentally completely changes the meaning of the word - so I'm guessing this text was formated for Kindle by an American and so sadly, the text is not truly as it would have been written by Lawrence.
on 10 December 2012
In a very famous context, D. H. Lawrence is himself famous for using a word beginning with `f', a word that is infamous rather than famous. Mentioning this word and then repeating it got the author into some serious trouble that was not resolved until decades after his death. In this book, The Lost Girl, Lawrence is clearly preoccupied with the word and the novel is very much focused on it and its associated act. Its anticipation, achievement, consequences and perceived implications seem to be the very stuff of the heroine's life, but in this book the word never actually appears. So, like Lawrence, let's use a euphemism, but let's also be more direct than the writer. Let's use `fabrication', an activity that is central to the work of any author.
The Lost Girl is Alvina Houghton. The surname is pronounced with an `f' sound in the middle, not an `o', so its first syllable rhymes with `fluff', not `now'. She is the daughter of James, a shopkeeper in a small Derbyshire town called Woodhouse, in the north English midlands. James has a shop selling Manchester goods, the mass produced textiles of the late nineteenth century. He is not the best businessman, however, and his activities shrink over time. His daughter, Alvina - that's with a `y' sound in the middle, not an `e' - is rather plain-looking and apparently not too interesting either. She thinks quite a lot about fabrication from quite an early age, but she is a determined spectator when it comes to relationships. Her counsel, especially after her mother dies, is from older women, some of them determined spinsters.
After some prevarication, Alvina eventually trains as a midwife. The skill offers her a chance of independence, but she chooses to revert to her preferred state of familial dependence. After all, Alvina will probably inherit her father's business. Thus she continues her arm's length relation with life.
There is a short affair with a local man, a rather goofy figure who goes on to Oxford University and probably lives long enough to make a packet. But clearly the safe option is not for Alvina, who equally seems utterly afraid of risk in any form. She clearly cannot bring herself to the fabrication she privately craves and so the affair, surely destined for marriage in the eyes of the locals, comes to nought.
Women close to The Lost Girl die. Others remain like perched birds watching over events. And, when James decides to leave the shop and sell off the little coal mine he also owns there is much consternation. There is even more to chirp about when he announces he is going into the entertainment business by opening up a little music hall, especially when Alvina declares that she will play the piano. Until this point, she had not mentioned being a musician. It is worthwhile remembering that we are in age when playing the instrument was almost part of any single woman's trousseau.
And so the music hall presents its act, a motley crew of Red Indian impersonators, including a German called Max and an Italian called Cicio. Initially, the show packs them in, but the passing of time sees interest start to dwindle. But suddenly new opportunities arise for Alvina to think of fabrication, and fabrication with foreigners involved to boot!
And so the story of Lawrence's The Lost Girl eventually fabricates its way from Derbyshire, and we leave Alvina in what looks like a new - though very old fashioned - life in changed circumstances. She seems now completely enslaved in her chosen womanly role, but we are at the start of the First World War and surely the role of women in society is about to change for ever.
The Lost Girl deals with many of Lawrence's recurring themes, but its fabrication is often rather clumsy and its style often less than comfortable. It is, however, worth seeing through, if only to realise just how much both Lawrence and his fabricated characters - especially the women - are still locked in a soon to be changed mind-set about gender roles and social class.
on 26 January 2014
This was a book Lawrence started writing put to one side and came back to after a long period. So it's like reading two novels in one with a very different first half to second. However, I loved it - in both its different styles. I loved the fact that his protagonist, Alvira Houghton refused to conform to what was expected of her, which in context to the times was very anti-establishment. It's not perfect, but when was D.H.L ever that? I still think it's up there with his best. I've read almost everything he's written and I vote The Lost Girl in my top three behind; Sons and Lovers and Women in Love and rate it above The Rainbow and Lady C. The man was a terribly flawed author, with many wild flurries of genius. My only regret was that he died too soon without writing more.