Before I begin it has been years since I have sat down and written any kind of book review so forgive me for being slightly rusty in this area. I also must mention that this book is a sequel to The Rainbow although I did not realise that until I was about half way through, I cannot say it impacted at all but perhaps might be best to read that book first.
The central characters are sisters, Gudrun and Ursula. Gudrun is an artist and Ursula is a school teacher in the 1910’s in the Midlands, England.
As the story progresses the 2 love interests arrive into the lives of the sisters. Gerald Crich the son of a coal mine owner becomes Gudrun’s love interest and Rupert Birkin a school inspector and Gerald’s friend becomes Ursula’s.
The two central relationships that develop are not your typical boy meets girl ones with them all living happily ever after. The relationships are somewhat tainted with politics, social standings, the place of men and women in society and their own individual inward battles.
It also becomes quite clear as the novel evolves that there is quite a strong love between Gerald and Rupert but there are too many internal and external barriers to prevent them being together. There are definite descriptions of subtle homoeroticism which whilst would be considered tame these days would no doubt have potentially been quite the controversy back when this novel was written.
It must be mentioned also that despite the fact there is often discussion of love and a repeated asking of “Do you love me?” between characters it seems there is also a self filled hatred of love, almost a disgust of it, a total inability to take it as a joyful emotion within each character which overrides a lot of conversation and inner thoughts.
In terms of the characters themselves Gerald is a cruel, very pessimistic man who totally overrules Ursula and who verges on evil and dangerous which becomes more apparent near the ending. Birkin is less harsh and more loving towards Gundrun but I got the feeling that neither man loves either sister, they just say the words, they just do what is expected and that as a result it only adds to their bitterness towards life.
Overall I would say that I enjoyed the book and that with a bit of persistence it is worth reading. There is a lot of flowery language and internal conflicts that can be a bit over the top intertwined with some discussion that can be a bit self absorbed but overall as I said I enjoyed it and I would recommend it.