Set in the rural midlands of England, The Rainbow revolves around three generations of Brangwens, a family deeply involved with the land and noted for their strength and vigour. When Tom Brangwen marries a Polish widow, Lydia Lensky, and adopts her daughter, Anna, as his own, he is unprepared for the conflict and passion that erupts between them. Their stories continue in Women in Love.
©1995 The Estate of Frieda Lawrence Ravagli (P)2014 Audible, Inc.
"O'Brien reads the Brangwens, both women and men, as vital people, with instinctive lines that are both sensual and spiritual; always they are whole and organic as they are drawn inexorably into the Rainbow. Both book and reading give us Lawrence at his best." (AudioFile)
It's a few decades since I read any Lawrence and I thought I'd give this a try as one of his landmark novels. It tells the story of three generations of a Derbyshire family and their passions, frailties and accommodations with the rising industrialising world around them. On the plus side is some very poetic writing and description and a vivid characterisation of the main protagonists and their passions/dilemmas. But oh how tedious the struggles with sexuality and identity. This might have been liberating to the spirits of his age, for the first time finding their feelings represented in his characters, but to this modern reader it is tedium in the extreme - overblown romanticism and occasional bodice-ripping flights of fancy. One does care about the characters to a degree - though some are more silhouetted than fleshed out. The tale of the last of the 3 generations is the most interesting - how Ursula Brangwen takes flight in search of her destiny, but did we need to dredge through such acres of previous generations and her own sexual anxst to get there? By the time you get here, you couldn't care less. Lawrence stands up far less well than his contemporaries, such as the wonderfully penetrating Henry James or the magnificent James Joyce. By comparison his plotting, psychology, use of ideas and ability to capture meaning is thin and undistinguished. What an overrated writer he turned out to be.
"Death and Rebirth, the Old and New."
A brilliant telling of the Brangwen family's 3 generations, before and after the industrial revolution from their small bit of England, and their rise from people of the land, to people of culture and worldly knowledge, with moral, spiritual and earthly struggles. Eventually revolving around the granddaughter, Ursula, a 'modern' women of free thought and the challenges that envelope her. It is a story of great passions, misfortunes, loves and agonies, always surrounded by their small place in the world of earthly power.
If you love this book as much as I have, 'Women in Love' continues the tale, this time focusing on Ursula's younger sister, Gudrun.
Maureen O'Brien is the best narrator I have, to this point, heard! Remarkable!
"Not so hard"
Often I struggled through this while reading. Not so listening. Also discovered that Lawrence isn't just about sex. He writes a lot about urbanization and modern dehumanizing employment practices, just as relevant today. Even where sex is talked about, it's talked about very deeply and meaningfully. Not at all pornographically. Really an extension of Hardy with a bit of Freud thrown in. Oh, and a bit of Dolls House and Hedda Gabler. Figure that much of the fuss, the establishmentarian reaction, historically speaking, actually related to the story's radical and individualistic view point rather than sex scenes as such (as there really weren't any to speak of, even for the times.) I wouldn't be surprised if Lawrence included more sex later in Women and Chatterley just to stick it to readers who chose not to see past these matters in his first few books. All in all, an incredible author, the likes of whom we won't see again for awhile to come.
"Horrid and depressing"
If your depressed this book might put you over the edge, very repetitive, no hope; I am very glad I am not part of this family. They live in their own doom. I originally bought another book by this author, but decided not to put myself though the misery of listening to it. I give the performance a 5 star because anyone who can suffer through reading it deserves many stars.
yes, job very well done!
disappointment, when you give a book a powerful title like "the Rainbow" you expect it to have some encouraging messages, not to be dreary and depressing! It should have been called "The Hopeless Family".
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