Monday, 7 October 2013

Lady Chatterley's Lover

Lady Chatterley’s Lover

Author: D. H. Lawrence
Publisher: Penguin Classics
Published: 1st June 2006 (Originally published in 1928).
RRP: £8.99

The first thing to say about this book is that it really is quite surprising it was written so long ago.  Not only is the language blunt and shocking by even today’s standards, but the subject matter- an exploration of the role of sex within relationships, feels contemporary and ever-relevant.

 The lead character Connie marries Clifford Chatterley who, shortly after their honeymoon, is sent to war only to return paralysed from the waist down and completely impotent.  He becomes consumed in his success as a writer and with his coal mining business pushing Connie away and increasing her feeling of isolation.  She eventually sparks up a relationship with the groundskeeper Oliver Mellors and the remainder of the tale follows their exploits and the consequences of their affair.

  I’m a lover of classic literature, but it can get tedious reading stories that are much the same with women generally being wet and pathetic creatures who are easily manipulated and controlled by their male equivalents.  It is refreshing therefore that Connie is presented as such an independent woman.  Of course we could argue for hours that she is anything but strong and confident but ultimately she is a woman tired of her life, wants more and goes and gets it despite the hurdles in her way.  Hooray for her!

I think the book is a very honest analysis of relationships.  We would all love to think we could do the noble thing of sticking by someone who has become disabled despite there being a lack of physical and emotional connection , realistically though, this doesn’t happen.  The book doesn’t shy from the fact that sex is an integral part of human relationships and explores the voids that can develop when people are just not suited to each other. 

I did enjoy the book it was shocking at times, warm and sincere although hearing how much Connie’s womb tingled, flickered or other ridiculous sensation did get a little tiresome! 

Rating: 8/10

Sunday, 13 January 2013

The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared

Author: Jonas Jonasson
Publisher: Hesperus Press
Published: 12th July 2012
RRP: £8.99

  Funnily enough, this is the story of an elderly man named Allan Karlsson who on his 100th birthday decided he had had enough of the constraints of living in an old people’s home so climbed out of the window and disappeared.  The title pretty much says it all really.  Allan does not literally disappear but instead embarks on an exciting adventure where he meets a plethora of unique and extraordinary characters including gangsters, hot dog stand owners and an elephant whilst managing to evade the police desperately trying to locate him.

  Unlike the stereotypical portrayal of the elderly as weak and feeble, this book characterises Allan as a strong-minded, witty man, completely able to defend himself, at times a little too well.  An interesting character, the Jonasson has used Allan’s age to be able to intertwine elements of 20th Century History, in a very Forrest Gump-esque style.  

  It is a good, solid read, with plenty to hold your interest but for me I felt there was something lacking.  Throughout the book, from start to finish I felt as though I was reading a screenplay and not a novel.  This is not necessarily a bad thing, except a novel is what Jonasson set out to write.  Books to me should make you feel part of the world you are reading about, you should know the characters as you know your friends; this is achieved through the depth of the description that the author uses.  Yet I felt like an observer throughout this read, there wasn’t the development of the world for me to feel part of just the description of one event followed by another.  

  I think this would make a great Swedish arthouse film of a similar style to ‘Let the Right One In’, but to me it wasn’t quite the full package as a book.

Rating: 6/10