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Places to Go: Sons and Lovers by D.H.Lawrence

Written by Rachael Norris, 4th December 2020

Learning and Quality Coordinator at The Reader, Lisa Spurgin, reads from Sons and Lovers by D.H.Lawrence. The theme for our daily readings this month is 'Winter Warmth'. Check out the rest of our readings for November and download the calendar here.

In this extract from one of D.H. Lawrence’s most well-known novels, we drop into the house of the Morel family on Christmas Eve. They are eagerly awaiting the return of their eldest son, William, who has left the family home in Nottinghamshire to live and work in London. There is much anticipation and excitement surrounding William’s coming home for Christmas, particularly for Mrs. Morel, the mother of the family. She misses him intensely, writing to him regularly and thinking of him even more often, so his return home is a very significant event, made all the more so by the occasion of celebration which coincides with it.

Though I’m not from an especially big family myself, this passage really conjures up for me the whirl of emotions which can often accompany the festive period. It can be a time where life seems to go at a faster speed than usual with so much preparation and lots of expectation for things to be perfect. I love the list of all the edible treats that Mrs. Morel has been busy making to welcome William back in style – the family will be having quite the feast, indeed! Almost every member of the family has their part to play, from hunting out ‘holly and evergreens’ to making decorations and assisting with the baking. There is a great amount of love in this household, reflected in the lengths that are being gone to make this particular Christmas extra special.

All of the work and excitement hangs in the balance, however, when there is no sign of William at the train station. His younger brothers and sister, who have been sent to collect him, wait in the dark and cold, and talk amongst themselves about whether they should approach the train guard on the platform to ask when the London train might be expected. I find myself smiling at Paul, who ‘was dying for the man to know they were expecting someone by the London train: it sounded so grand. Yet he was much too much scared of broaching any man, let alone one in a peaked cap, to dare to ask.’ I’ve definitely been that shy child, and am still that apprehensive adult, often left fretting with my own anxieties when the much better course would be to say something and to know, if not for certain then to have a better idea. I also love the image of the children ‘huddled together on the platform’, looking not only for physical warmth but comfort in a moment of uncertainty.

Not to spoil things completely, but I am keen to let you know that all does turn out well for the Morels and their Christmas. This year Christmas will look different for many families and I can’t help thinking about the celebrations that won’t be quite the same as ones that have gone before. I hope that whatever the picture for you, you’ll be able to listen to this extract and feel the warmth that comes from this family scene. Even if we can’t be with all of our nearest and dearest this year, the sensations they create in our hearts will surely keep the Christmas spirit aflame.

“Home was home, and they loved it with a passion of love, whatever the suffering had been.

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