Lawrence's first major novel was also the first in the English language to explore ordinary working-class life from the inside. No writer before or since has written so well about the intimacies enforced by a tightly knit mining community and by a family where feelings are never hidden for long.
When the marriage between Walter Morel and his sensitive, high-minded wife begins to break down, the bitterness of their frustration seeps into their children's lives. Their second son, Paul, craves the warmth of family and community, but knows that he must sacrifice everything in the struggle for independence if he is not to repeat his parents' failure.
Lawrence's powerful description of Paul's single-minded efforts to define himself sexually and emotionally through relationships with two women -- the innocent, old-fashioned Miriam Leivers and the experienced, provocatively modern Clara Dawes -- makes this a novel as much for the beginning of the twenty-first century as it was for the beginning of the twentieth.
It is always difficult to write a review on a book that was just okay. Sons and Lovers by D.H. Lawrence was just okay. The books is not a page turner. It doesn't make you want to just read and read until you get to the end. But it is easy to lose yourself in the pages and not notice the time go by. It's like Steinbeck's East of Eden in that perceptive (or East of Eden is like Sons and Lovers).
Sons and Lovers is a nice example of a character based storyline. There really is not plot. The story is a look in the life of Paul Morel. The story begins when his parents meet. Lawrence describes the circumstance of Paul's up bring and how he becomes the man he is.
The story mostly surrounds the complex relationship Paul has with his mother. They have a strong interdependent bond. The back of the copy of the book that I read called it Oedipus complex. But (for me) it seemed more like Paul was a mamas boy. They both provided each other with something that was initial missing in there lives. Paul provided comfort, understanding, and a listening ear to his mother. She provided him with a sense of direction. There was never the since that Paul wanted to get rid of his but rather that his father couldn't (or wouldn't) provide his mother with what she needed, so instead he did it.
There is also the relationships that Paul develops with two women, Clara and Miriam. Like the relationship with his mother, the relationships he has with these women are also based on co-dependency. With Miriam it is emotion and with Clara it is sexual. Paul seems to know this and the women seem to know this, yet they continue on with these relationships. It is a little frustrating. There is never the since that Paul is developing as a person, that any of the central characters are developing as people (except Clara, a little). They all seem to just go on and on with the same patterns of behavior. It gets a little tidiest after awhile.
The writing is great. Like a lot of classics Lawrence is good at giving details, sometimes to much detail. As stated earlier this book is not a page turner. It is really easy to put down and forget. Yet, it is also just as easy to pick up and finish were you started off from. The pages seem to pass by quickly and it never feels labor intensive.
Pros: Character based, Writing, Relationships Cons: A lot of descriptions, Character based, Relationship
Sons and Lovers is a great example of a character based novel. It would not be the first classic that I would recommend if asked but it would be someone in the middle of the list.