Book Review: Sons and Lovers – by D. H. Lawrence

I read Sons and Lovers the first time in the spring of 1977, when I was twenty-one and life was a romantic journey just ahead of me, full of excitement, tension, mystery, internal struggle and passion. I had learned about D. H. Lawrence from reading Henry Miller’s books, including and foremost Tropic of Cancer. Lawrence is not an easy writer to read. But I remember enjoying the book thoroughly and I passed it on to others to read. I decided to pick it up again and experience it from a very different perspective and age.

The story is about the Morel family, a miner in the Nottingham area and his young wife, who eek out a living. Morel gets withdrawn and abusive quickly. He is consumed by his work and alcoholism. His wife feels lost and abandoned. She has four children – really three more than she wanted. To cope with her emotional problems, she possesses over her sons. Her oldest, William, and then, her third son, Paul, the main character in the story.

Caught in the web of love and possessiveness of his mother, Paul is not able to establish healthy relationships with girls and later women in his life. Miriam, his girl love, is his faithful companion and soul mate for many years. When their relationship turns sexual, Paul soon withdraws, pulled away by his mother. Clara, a married woman separated from her husband and five years older than Paul is his next love. They share passion, and again Paul pulls back.

D. H. Lawrence’s writing is eloquent, whimsical, extremely detailed and descriptive. Reading Sons and Lovers is like watching an endless movie through fog like diaphanous lace on summer mornings with classical music playing in the background. For a modern reader, used to a plot, tension, action and suspense – this book will be outright boring and difficult to work through.

I was glad I stuck with it, reading it from the perspective not of a young man who has just learned what makes blood boil, like it was when I read it the first time, but from someone who has lived a full life, was lucky to find balance, satisfaction, passion, love, who had children and raised them to adulthood, without clipping their wings or maiming their souls.

Sons and Lovers is a classic, a gem in the English language, and a journey of the mind.

3 thoughts on “Book Review: Sons and Lovers – by D. H. Lawrence

Leave a Reply