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on 3 February 2014
Having read this in my youth, when Lawrence was more appreciated than he is now, and not really getting what the fuss was about, I thought I'd give it another go. I remember finding it very difficult to understand Birkin's position, so did some reading up before hand to try and get me over the intellectual hurdles, including F.R. Leavis' book on Lawrence. Now I realise that I didn't get over the intellectual hurdles because Lawrence (and Leavis!) didn't either. The Lawrence figure in the novel, Birkin, always seems on the verge of saying something important, but he continually lapses into incoherent, extreme, or unattractive attitudes. For instance, he continually pours scorn on working class people, but at least they don't end up as a parasite like him.

Birkin is a school inspector and, in one of the better chapters, he shows that he's a good one, by explaining to Ursula, a school mistress, how to make her Botany lesson better by improving the kid's drawings in a way that increases the artistic and scientific impact. But he throws up this job to live on his private income, and drags Ursula away for some tedious ramblings on the continent. Note that Birkin doesn't actually do anything creative, he isn't an artist or a writer. As the other characters repeatedly point out, his views on large-scale intellectual & social issues are ridiculous and incoherent, so how could he be a writer? Only if he put his incoherent and useless ramblings in a novel and called it art. Birkin is a reserved character, so he sensibly avoids doing that, unfortunately Lawrence did not!

Birkin's friend, Gerald Crouch, is a mining magnate, and Lawrence tries to show that Gerald's life is meaningless because he makes his main cause in life to improve the mines by mastering technological and management procedures. Actually I think Lawrence creates such a positive picture of Gerald that he undermines his thesis! I could only think, "Good on you Gerald!", and was rooting for him throughout the book at the expense of Birkin and the sisters. Lawrence has to undermine Gerald by giving him a nasty streak - he makes the miners work too hard, he thumps Gudrun.... But some combination of Gerald's approach with that of his father, who is a Christian and forever trying to ease the lot of the miners, would make for a very attractive character who would really show Birkin up for the incoherent parasite he is, and provide a better, and quite believable, hero for the novel.

Besides the many, lengthy, obscure ramblings about such things as "dark gods" and "the evils of industry", there are too many tedious love scenes, which are even more obscure than the intellectual ramblings - I guess to avoid the censor. The censor would be likely to fall asleep, or skip, before working out what is going on, or if he did would certainly not be sexually excited, just bored to tears, and would think "the wife" or "the servant" wouldn't have the intellectual capacity or interest to follow the book.
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on 29 January 2001
Women in Love is the intensely successful sequel to The Rainbow. Originally the two novels were fused in one volume known as, 'The Sisters', but later Lawrence decided to split them, and revise them to create the two separate novels. Lawrence treats his characters with an emotional, linguistic and psychological intensity and delicacy that transmits the ideas, problems and feelings which Lawrence struggles continually to explain. It follows the progress of Ursula, the character pushed into view in The Rainbow, as she searches for a man who can embody and fulfil all her emotions, needs and wants. She finds this in Birkin as they struggle towards the Lawrentian goal of the true spiritual relationship. Also in the novel, appears Gudrun, similarly fighting for emotional, physical and mental success in Gerald. Throughout the novel, Lawrence holds the reader under his influence with his descriptive, repetitive language which seeks to persuade the reader towards his ideas. This novel which is highly enjoyable whether read alone or after The Rainbow, will lull the reader into the psychological depths of Lawrence's mind and leave him/her with a lasting impression of human relationships between man and woman.
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on 11 October 2013
It is impossible to imagine a more unsuitable reader for this classic. I suffered the first CD in the hope that it might improve but it did not and the gabble went on and on. To be told that it had finished was an unnecessary intrusion in the narrative.

It would have been better red by a man who had some understanding of DHL's observation, insight and understanding of human emotions and relationships. Because of the reader's accent, there was no feeling for the people and landscape of the part of the country in which it is set.

Sadly, I have impaired vision and am dependent on listening and it was so sad to hear a favourite book and writer so unappreciated and lacking in the depth which makes DHL so great a writer.
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on 20 November 2002
Lawrence's novel sets the scene just before the first world war in England, in atmosphere of anxious ignorance. Lawrence intimately explores the lives of the two sisters Gudrun and Ursula, as they discover what it is to be in love and the confusion of emotion that accompanies it. Gudrun falls in love with the charming Gerald whilst Ursula and Birkin embark on a more cynical and cautious affair; the different personalities of the sisters allow Lawrence to illustrate contrasting approaches to love and lust. The unique style, typical of Lawrence, takes the form of philosophical conversation in different scenarios, which is brought to life by the individuality of the characters and their beliefs. The issues that the novel raises are conveyed in a very personal way that allows Lawrence's mind to shine through his characters and additionally permits the reader a greater incite into the authors philosophies and vulnerability. Lawrence's attention to detail of the two protagonists displays his superb understanding of the human mind and sexual desire. This is a story that is strongly driven and created by its characters, who never allow the focus to waver or the reader to tire....
Other books that might be enjoyed: E M Forster, A Room with a View, D.H. Lawrence The Rainbow
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on 23 August 2013
Wonderful prose and characterization make this book interesting despite a rather rambling storyline, which is only partly about women in love and doesn't really get going until around half way.

The main characters are sisters Ursula and Gudrun, and their men friends Rupert and Gerald, but there are plenty of asides and these involve many other characters. In fact these side stories account for a significant chunk of the book, and are not always interesting!

The author gives a glimpse into early 20th century English middle class life, amidst all the changes wrought by industrialisation and increasing democratisation (political enfranchisement for male working class householders since 1884).

Three of the main characters are agnostic and the author has them expound all kinds of contemporary ideas and non traditional beliefs, which can be a tad boring.

This was the author's penultimate novel (1920) and has none of the passion that characterised his last novel, `Lady Chatterley's Lover' (1928).

A good read but the first half is a bit tedious.
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on 28 January 2009
I just finished "Women in love" and I have to say it had been a long time since I felt so overwhemed by a story. I loved every paragraph, every line of thought, every conclusion...
It was my first "Lawrence-experience" and surely it won't be my last.
This novel is full of interesting dialogs, the characters are strong willed and with so much personality that it's difficult to feel detached from it. The are some magical moments: *BEWAHRE SPOILERS* the hand- clasping between Birkin and Gerald, Birkin's proposal to Ursula Brangwen, Birkin's thoughts when he sees the cold and dead face of Gerald...
If you haven't read this novel, I strongly recommend it...
I'll go on with Lady Chatterley's lover, see if it's as good as this one!
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on 14 August 2000
This novel has permanently affected me since I first read, and then later dissected and analyzed it for my final thesis at university. The mythical images which are woven into the plot, descriptions, and the actions of the characters are brilliant. Most fascinating, however, are the discussions held between the characters (all with very potent personalities) on such topics as modern life, art, identity, and love. This is a MUST READ for anyone interested in 20th century literature. I cannot praise this novel enough.
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Written in 1920 and often regarded as D. H. Lawrence's greatest novel, Women in Love is the complex story of two women and two men who scrutinize their lives and personal needs in an effort to discover something that makes the future worth living. The personal and social traumas of post-World War I, combined with the rise of industry and urbanization, have affected all four main characters, often at cross purposes as they explore love and its role in their lives. Intensely introspective and self-conscious, each character shares his/her thoughts with the reader, allowing the reader to participate in the inner conflicts and crises that each faces.
Ursula Brangwen, a teacher in a mining town in the Midlands, is attracted to Rupert Birkin, a school supervisor; her sister Gudrun, an artist whose sculptures have drawn some attention in London, is drawn to Gerald Crich, whose father is a mine owner. As the two women earn their living and consider the issue of marriage, which they regard as an impediment to their independence, the men deal with issues of sexuality and power, and whether the love of a woman is enough. Both men have homosexual urges which compete with their feelings for women.
Gerald is the most conflicted of the four. Taking over the mines upon the death of his father, he is fiercely committed to making them successful, even if that means hardening his heart toward his workers. He feels no sense of responsibility toward them, dedicating his efforts toward success and power, an attitude he conveys also toward Gudrun, who finds him self-centered but physically attractive. Rupert Birkin, who is eventually drawn to Ursula, is often thought to have been modeled on Lawrence himself, and his sensitivity, self-analysis, and feeling that love is not enough--that one must progress beyond love to another plane--display the kind of agonized soul searching done by many other young men of his age following the horrors of the world war.
Extremely complex in its exploration of the period's social and philosophical influences on the characters (who are archetypes of society), the novel is also full of symbolism, with many parallels drawn between love and death, which the characters sometimes prefer to life. As the love affairs of these four characters play out, filled with complications, disagreements about the meaning of love, questions about love's relation to power and dominance, and the role of sexuality, Lawrence projects the tumult of post-war England as the values of the past yield to newer, more personal goals. Mary Whipple
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on 20 February 2011
This is, like `The Rainbow' and `Sons and Lovers', a masterpiece.

It was originally intended to be all one story with `The Rainbow', but by the time Lawrence got to writing `Women in Love' his powers and confidence as an artist had grown. The Ursula character was to have carried the Laurentian message forward into the second story with extra force, because we would have a full understanding of the development of her mind to the point where she meets Birkin. However we find in `Women in Love' that the voice of Lawrence is with Birkin and Ursula is a slightly diminished character, who often finds herself challenging him.

The result of this is to mean you can read to the two novels separately and be satisfied with both as single pieces of great fiction.

Reading, studying and then having the joy of sharing the work of Lawrence with young people, when I taught him at `A' Level has been one of the high points of my life.

In my own novel `A Song for Jo' Lawrence has an influence on the intellectual and emotional development of the two main characters, Jo and Chris, who are college students studying English. Other great literature from Keats, Emily Bronte and Shakespeare (and more) is worked into the narrative. It is a love story with a difference!

People of all ages and sex have enjoyed it.

It's available on Amazon - please follow the link.

A Song for Jo
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on 12 April 2013
"Its blasts your soul's eyes", he said, "and leaves you sightless. Yet you want to be sightless, you want to be blasted, you don't want it any different." Many people have written about love, but few people have written so authentically as D H Lawrence. The plot of Women in Love is very simple - two men and two sisters befriend each other and ultimately fall in love - but the depth and sophistication of the tale is extraordinary. It is a beautifully written book. Ursula and Gudrun Brangwen want freedom and fulfilment, but not at any price. Before they can love, artistic Rupert Birkin and wealthy Gerard Crich must struggle against their arrogance and pride, and the price of love is high. It is difficult to believe that Women in Love was banned under obscenity laws - the brief 'intimate moments' are only alluded to without any direct descriptions, and Lawrence leaves the reader to decide whether the sentiment between Rupert and Gerard is platonic or sexual. As pornography, the book is a dismal failure, but it succeeds as one of the greatest novels of the twentieth century.

Many people consider Ulysses to be the greatest novel of the last one hundred years. Personally, I think Women in Love is a better book, and Lawrence as good a writer as any of his contemporaries.
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