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)2011 AudioGO Ltd
"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)
"no gold at the end of this one"
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.
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