My rating: 3 of 5 stars
This classic, written in the 1920s, has mixed ratings on goodreads. Many readers criticize it for being sexist, some praise it for being ahead of it’s time. I found it to be a little bit a both with bonus awkward sex scenes. Really awkward. Sooooo awkward. The last page is literally a letter from a penis to a vagina, describing itself as being sad and droopy. I listened to this on audiobook and I cringed often.
Premise: Connie has married a Lord and became Lady Chatterley. Her husband came back from the war paralyzed from the waist down and can no longer seal the deal. What’s a lady to do? The gameskeeper, apparently.
Why it’s sexist:
1. Her husband barely survived the war and yet every person in the world seems overly concerned with who’s gonna give Connie the sausage. Women are not put on this earth for the sole purpose of getting penis. Mind your own business.
2. Two different lovers, including our love interest, talk in length about their hatred of women that don’t achieve orgasm at the same time as men, as if they do it on purpose out of spite or a selfish desire to force men to overly exert themselves. Screw you.
3. Everyone seems very concerned with how Connie is going to have a baby, to the point where affairs are a viable solution. As if a childless woman is worse than an unfaithful one. Screw you AND mind your own business.
Why it’s actually forward-thinking:
1. A book being written about a woman’s desire for her own sexual satisfaction is pretty uncommon for the time. Women used to have to pretend not to want sex and many were conditioned to feel that way. Sex was something that was done TO YOU not with you. It’s refreshing to see a woman express frustration and seek out a relationship that is both emotionally AND physically fulfilling.
2. Connie’s husband is a huge jerk. This is not a situation where a couple in love experience a tragedy and she is faced with a decision between faithfulness and selfishness. Her marriage was one of convenience. You are supposed to marry. Find a good man. She found a young, attractive man with a title and a fine house. It’s what women hoped for, but he shows himself to be completely selfish in his wants and needs and allows Connie to become physically ill in taking care of him and expects her to stay with him even though she is unhappy and does not love him anymore. He would have been cold, cruel, and a selfish lover even if he wasn’t disabled. Finding a lover and her own happiness, despite the blow to her finances, reputation, and social standing is very ahead of the times.
3. The ending. Without spoiling anything, Connie finds her happiness without permission, unapologetically, and without any real consequences. In a world where women are STILL being punished for their sexuality, I found this very refreshing.
The time period and setting is fascinating. It is well-written and I enjoyed it, but just be warned. If you can stomach people talking for their genitalia and weaving wildflowers into pubes, you’ll do just fine.