Sons and Lovers by D.H. Lawrence
This was my first Daily Lit book of the year.
Gertrude meets and falls for the handsome Walter Morel when he charms her at a dance. She's far more genteel than he, but she agrees to marry the poorly educated coal miner. By the time she has her first son, she is already feeling the burdens of his poverty and his drinking and his lack of breeding and ambition. She loves him and sometimes remembers the passion that she felt for him, but often he is just a boorish brute.
Of course, her first child, William makes up for all of that. As do the daughter, Annie and the two sons, Paul and Arthur, who follow, each different in personality and temperament, but all receiving her love and returning it. This book showcases the perils and pitfalls of loving and the inability to love. In the case of Gertrude, she loves Morel, and their sons are born of their desire, but I don't think she likes him at all. He's mostly a creature of habit in a dead end job, and a massive drinking problem.
Then there are the children. Annie is the only one who gets away clean. She builds a healthy happy life for herself, marrying a man she loves and moving away to live that life. William, the oldest, is his mother's pet. He excels in school and begins a career in London. There he forms an attachment with a woman he likes the look of, but doesn't like. He knows that she's beautiful and shallow and in need of security. In a sad bit of foreshadowing he explains to his mother that if he were to die, she would forget all about him in a couple of months. Not longer after, both of these things come to pass.
After William dies, Gertrude turns her love to her second son, Paul. Paul is clever and artistic, but he's not the student his brother was. He stays closer to home, finds a girl who is in love with the idea of saving his soul. His mother doesn't approve and he eventually breaks it off with her, but only when he decides to make a play for another woman he has no chance at a future with.
This book is about Gertrude Morel and the love she has for her sons. Although her sons have lovers, they don't really seem to have the capacity to love. It's kind of sad.