Pujitha Krishnan Fernandes
, June 2011
Lucille and Yvette Saywell are young girls who feel oppressed in their middle class home in the rectory. The girls are irritated by their old grandmother and angry aunt, and they feel doomed to a life of boredom and middle class existence. But when Yvette meets a gypsy, strange feelings rise in her that threaten all accepted morality of the family and society.
As expected, of D.H Lawrence questions and casts aside all accepted morality and societal norms in this short novella.
Lucille and Yvette live until the dark cloud of their mother who abandoned her husband and children and ran away with a younger man.
Yvette has never been in love and scorns the attention of the young men of her social circle. She is disdainful of her family and her home and openly flouts rules and their idea of morality.
These young girls are full of life and promise and feel that they are wasting away in their prison-like home. This is a short novel, but Lawrence packs a lot into it. The characters are well drawn, and easy to recognize: the old grandmother who holds onto her position of power in the house, the frustrated aunt who is angry about wasting away her life and her sex in service to her mother, the loving, ineffective father who wants to be liked.
A big part of the problem is that the young boys and girls in this small town actually have everything. What they lack is intellectual stimulation and real difficulties. This brings about a sense of ennui and disdain for their families. Which is why when Yvette meets the gypsy, her interest is piqued. He represents freedom, virility and earthiness. Only at the end does she realise how she feels about him and learns his name and sees him more than a romantic concept.
The end seemed a little rushed and incomplete (this novella was published posthumously) and a little overly dramatic.
The audiobook: I suggest that you do listen to this novella in audio. Georgina Sutton does a great job of creating the ethereal Yvette, the old grandmother, the choleric aunt and the gruff and real gypsy. I only listened to it once, but bits of dialogue stand out in my memory for which the audio production is the reason.
I will definitely be looking for more classics to consume in audio. Having someone interpret the material intelligently adds so much to my absorption and enjoyment of the book.
Highly recommended for anyone who enjoys classics, especially D.H Lawrence. I do suggest you try the audiobook, it greatly added to my appreciation of this short novel.