Book – The Virgin and The Gipsy

Author – DH Lawrence

Year – 1930

Pages – 90

Genre – Fiction

I went through a little phase where I thought that Penguin Classics are some of the most beautiful books and bought about as many as I could get my hands on. Whilst I do not disagree with this sentiment now, I have a little more of a problem with the fact that they are – by very definition – Classics, and I don’t like them very much. As I am trying to trim the fat of my book collection, some of these seem prime candidates, so I am attempting to polish a few off. The easier of those are short, hence this one creeping in at under a hundred pages.

The story tells of Yvette, a girl of around nineteen, who feels repressed in her house. With a mother who ran off, a stuffy repressed rector as a father, and a battleaxe of a matriarch in her grandmother, she longs for something to transport her to somewhere else, and upon meeting a mysterious and handsome gipsy, she feels a stirring that none of the silly boys in her social life give to her.

Yvette is a dis-likeable character, strong in the sense that she has power over those around her, but fluffy and airy in the way that Lawrence writes her as being entirely oblivious to this effect. It felt to me – and I am no great literary scholar – that he was trying to present the idea that women can be strong and powerful, without going to far as to actually be comfortable letting his lead character have that power.

The gipsy is a much better formed character, and there is some interest there, although too little of the book is focused on him for that to be of consequence. This leaves the whole book feeling quite empty – I cared little for the plot of what was happening. The writing is often lovely, with a Kafkaesque feel to Yvette’s most peculiar family, but rather than develop this, the book focuses more on a vague sense of lust that is not particularly interesting.

There is a twist that comes so out of nowhere that I reread a page to make sure I wasn’t just blithely missing something, and then felt more like it was supposed to be a dream sequence, but otherwise there is little to recommend here. I might have started it because it was short and I wanted it out of the way, but I certainly only finished it because it was short and I wanted it out of the way.