Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Book Review #32: The Virgin & the Gipsy by D.H. Lawrence

Ah, Lawrence. You intimate bastard, we meet again. He brings fond memories of A Levels Literature. Every Friday, we'd have book discussions in various restaurants around Taylor's. We did Lady Chatterley's Lover in a vegetarian restaurant which had very nice lady's fingers. Hardly the place to discuss such amusing scandalosity! (not a word, I know) And, lovely friends with biting wit like Shufy and Shuen would comment and laugh sarcastically at the text. You honestly don't know a good thing till it's gone.

"Let there be hate and friction inside the family. To the outer world, a stubborn sense of unison." 
This novella centers around Yvette, a vicar's virginal daughter after World War I. Introduced at the age of 19, she comes back from overseas, dreading the bore and stagnation of life back at home. It is only when she meets a dark, handsome gipsy man who boldly draws her in, that she began to feel different and may even discover true love.

It is always dark and handsome, isn't it?

"They seem so free ... so tangled and tied up, inside themselves. They seem so dashing and unconventional and were really so conventional ... shut up indoors inside themselves."
The characters may seem silly to a reader. There's the 90-year old power hungry and bitter apparition of a grandmother, there's the father who never recovered after his wife left him for another penniless man, there's the pious, crazy aunt and the unimportant uncle who didn't matter. In fact, all of them seem comically out-of-this-world to me.

However, what's disturbing is the way Lawrence presents the characters to us. His naked portrayal of his two-faced characters and their conflicting human emotions and thoughts were really... personal and disturbing. There were some deeply disturbed and cunning thoughts.

And then there's this scene when they were eating cake, and the Aunt asked Yvette if she wanted her cake. Yvette, being the oblivious and disregarding girl that she is, accepted it and the Aunt was fuming! Isn't this what we do in real life? Don't ask or give if you don't mean it, right? It was so terribly amusing.

"But his bold eyes kept staring at Yvette, she could feel them on her cheek, on her neck, and she dared not look up. The eyes that belonged to the tribe of the humble: the pride of the pariah, the half-sneering challenge of the outcast, who sneered at law abiding men, and went his own way."
In Lawrence's canon of novels, he's always faffing on about the English class system, relationships between the sexes and he's not afraid to touch on sexual themes which were taboo in English society. If you're looking for an introduction to his work, I suppose this is adequate although I think the writing is all over the place (this was published posthumously). There really isn't anything scandalous about this novel at all, it's anti-climatic even.

However, the last line of the novella was fucking FANTASTIC. It sums up the young and reckless Yvette perfectly. In fact, it sums up the young and reckless, period. ★★★

Here I shall randomly insert a picture of my mum holding a Thai coconut for your viewing pleasure:

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