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Tenderness

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For readers of A Gentleman in Moscow and Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald, an ambitious, spellbinding historical novel about sensuality, censorship, and the novel that set off the sexual revolution. On the glittering shores of the Mediterranean in 1928, a dying author in exile races to complete his final novel. Lady Chatterley’s Lover is a sexually bold love story, a searing For readers of A Gentleman in Moscow and Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald, an ambitious, spellbinding historical novel about sensuality, censorship, and the novel that set off the sexual revolution. On the glittering shores of the Mediterranean in 1928, a dying author in exile races to complete his final novel. Lady Chatterley’s Lover is a sexually bold love story, a searing indictment of class distinctions, and a study in sensuality. But the author, D. H. Lawrence, knows it will be censored. He publishes it privately, loses his copies to customs, and dies bereft. Thirty years later, in her last days before becoming first lady, Jackie Kennedy learns that publishers are trying to bring D. H. Lawrence’s long-censored novel to American and British readers in its full form. The government has responded by taking the book to court. Determined to enjoy the anonymity she has left and to honor a novel she loves, Jackie attends the trial. But there she is quickly recognized, and FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover takes note of her interest and her outrage. Through the story of Lawrence’s writing of Lady Chatterley’s Lover, the obscenity trial that sought to suppress it, and the men and women who fought for its publication, Booker Prize–longlisted author Alison MacLeod captures the epic sweep of the twentieth century from war and censorship to sensuality and freedom. Exquisite, evocative, and grounded in history, Tenderness is a testament to the transformative power of fiction.


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For readers of A Gentleman in Moscow and Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald, an ambitious, spellbinding historical novel about sensuality, censorship, and the novel that set off the sexual revolution. On the glittering shores of the Mediterranean in 1928, a dying author in exile races to complete his final novel. Lady Chatterley’s Lover is a sexually bold love story, a searing For readers of A Gentleman in Moscow and Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald, an ambitious, spellbinding historical novel about sensuality, censorship, and the novel that set off the sexual revolution. On the glittering shores of the Mediterranean in 1928, a dying author in exile races to complete his final novel. Lady Chatterley’s Lover is a sexually bold love story, a searing indictment of class distinctions, and a study in sensuality. But the author, D. H. Lawrence, knows it will be censored. He publishes it privately, loses his copies to customs, and dies bereft. Thirty years later, in her last days before becoming first lady, Jackie Kennedy learns that publishers are trying to bring D. H. Lawrence’s long-censored novel to American and British readers in its full form. The government has responded by taking the book to court. Determined to enjoy the anonymity she has left and to honor a novel she loves, Jackie attends the trial. But there she is quickly recognized, and FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover takes note of her interest and her outrage. Through the story of Lawrence’s writing of Lady Chatterley’s Lover, the obscenity trial that sought to suppress it, and the men and women who fought for its publication, Booker Prize–longlisted author Alison MacLeod captures the epic sweep of the twentieth century from war and censorship to sensuality and freedom. Exquisite, evocative, and grounded in history, Tenderness is a testament to the transformative power of fiction.

59 review for Tenderness

  1. 5 out of 5

    Liz

    I gave up after 50 pages. Whoever compared it to A Gentleman in Moscow was on something. Do not attempt if cohesive thoughts are a requirement for you.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Alwynne

    For over thirty years D.H. Lawrence’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover was one of the most scandalous books in existence. It divided public opinion, loved or loathed, often by people who’d never read it. Banned in England and America for its alleged depravity, it was the focus of an obscenity trial that arguably heralded the end of an era of social and cultural conservatism. Alison MacLeod’s Tenderness blends fact and fiction to produce an account, almost a cultural history, of Lawrence’s final novel. It For over thirty years D.H. Lawrence’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover was one of the most scandalous books in existence. It divided public opinion, loved or loathed, often by people who’d never read it. Banned in England and America for its alleged depravity, it was the focus of an obscenity trial that arguably heralded the end of an era of social and cultural conservatism. Alison MacLeod’s Tenderness blends fact and fiction to produce an account, almost a cultural history, of Lawrence’s final novel. It’s a complex, non-linear piece opening in 1930 with a dying Lawrence, in exile from England where seized copies of Lady Chatterley’s Lover have made him a wanted man. MacLeod's epic saga then moves back and forth in time to mine Lawrence’s past and his novel’s future. Along the way MacLeod takes in a bohemian colony in WW1 Sussex, 1920s’ Italy, London and Cambridge in the 1960s and, unexpectedly, Jackie Kennedy and J. Edgar Hoover's F.B.I. in the run-up to John F. Kennedy’s bid for presidency. MacLeod’s been fascinated by Lawrence’s work and Lady Chatterley’s Lover since her late teens and this frequently reads like a labour of love. Something that’s both a strength and a weakness, her enthusiasm for Lawrence’s clear, and sometimes infectious, but she often seems too close to her subject. The book’s breath-takingly comprehensive, meticulously researched but the level of detail can be overwhelming, and even puzzling. There are areas of repetition and digression suggesting MacLeod couldn’t resist including anything and everything that interested her from her sources - numerous passages read more like footnotes than narrative. There’s a blow-by-blow account of the famous obscenity trial against Penguin Books; an exhaustive record of the famous figures, from Katherine Mansfield to E.M. Forster, who visited Lawrence in his Sussex retreat; a mass of material on Hoover and the F.B.I, that’s not to mention the fictional characters who work to forward the slender plot. MacLeod's concept's challenging, difficult to translate into compelling fiction: Jackie Kennedy’s imagined links to Lawrence’s “obscene” work, and Hoover’s attempts to exploit that, provide an element of tension but I didn’t find that storyline particularly convincing. Ultimately, MacLeod’s interested in what Lady Chatterley’s Lover represented, its radical potential. She explores the ways in which its highly-charged anti-war, anti-capitalist aspects, its iconoclastic representation of human sensuality might have made it so explosive in Hoover’s America and so disturbing for the old guard of English society. And through this she’s attempting to tell a wider story about the nature of fiction and its transformative potential. All of which I found intriguing, even when I didn’t actually agree with her. Overall, it’s a difficult book to sum up, at times more a series of pieces awkwardly grafted together than a coherent whole. But despite its flaws I found it accessible and frequently highly readable. I particularly enjoyed finding out about Lawrence’s wider literary circle, its links to Bloomsbury and authors I’m more familiar with, and it made me want to know more about Lawrence, a writer I’ve mostly avoided, so in that sense it was successful. Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher Bloomsbury for the arc

  3. 4 out of 5

    Roman Clodia

    I found this a difficult book to navigate: at its heart is the figure of DH Lawrence, rather affectedly called 'the exile', and his infamous book 'Lady Chatterley's Lover', but stories spin off from there, loosely linked via Lawrence's own past, that of his wife, Frieda, the obscenity trial of the book which put Allen Lane in the dock and, rather oddly, Jackie Kennedy who wanders in in the early 1960s. There are large swathes of the book which are taken from the actual trial transcripts which ar I found this a difficult book to navigate: at its heart is the figure of DH Lawrence, rather affectedly called 'the exile', and his infamous book 'Lady Chatterley's Lover', but stories spin off from there, loosely linked via Lawrence's own past, that of his wife, Frieda, the obscenity trial of the book which put Allen Lane in the dock and, rather oddly, Jackie Kennedy who wanders in in the early 1960s. There are large swathes of the book which are taken from the actual trial transcripts which are fascinating in themselves but which rather overpower the more nebulous fictional sections. With a tendency to feel directionless and a bit overlong, there are important issues at stake in the book about censorship, who gets to define what 'literature' is, the writing of sexuality and the pushing of boundaries. But the whole thing just didn't engage me enough as a novel.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Saswati Saha Mitra

    Tenderness by Alison MacLeod is extraordinary. It’s the love story I have been waiting for. Love is a many fangled thing in Tenderness. Whether it is Lawrence’s love for his wife Frieda, his romance with Rosalind Baynes or other people finding love due to Lawrence’s works, FBI agent, Harding opening up his life or Dina Wall reconciling her family’s ambivalence for Lawrence for how he represented them in fiction, each protagonist has a unique story of how love sets them free. And yet getting to tru Tenderness by Alison MacLeod is extraordinary. It’s the love story I have been waiting for. Love is a many fangled thing in Tenderness. Whether it is Lawrence’s love for his wife Frieda, his romance with Rosalind Baynes or other people finding love due to Lawrence’s works, FBI agent, Harding opening up his life or Dina Wall reconciling her family’s ambivalence for Lawrence for how he represented them in fiction, each protagonist has a unique story of how love sets them free. And yet getting to true love is not easy, even in the fiction of Lady Chatterley’s Lover, the censorship of which is at the heart of the drama of Tenderness. The same themes of judgement and preventing others from living one’s full life, feels so relevant today. The brilliance of this book depends on the research that has gone into it and the ability to connect characters across time, place and gender by the single theme, is Lady Chatterley’s Lover vulgar and corrupt or is it a great work that breaks the shackles of war time morality and encourages a whole generation to seek a higher connection with another human being? The history lover in me was so surprised to read about the interest of Jackie Kennedy in the book’s publication in the US. Equally interesting is the role of J. Edgar Hoover in keeping the book out of public hands. You see how those yielding power, use censorship to control free thinking. Sounds familiar? As I kept reading this 600 pages book, I could not but admire how great books connect us- Lady Chatterley and Jackie Kennedy, Jackie Kennedy and me, with our love for Lawrence’s writing in common. The curiosity I felt for Lawrence’s works as a 14 year old is revived by MacLeod’s homage. She does a fantastic job of representing women and what their hearts seek in a new era from Lawrence but very much in his tradition. Love is freedom. I hope that this book makes it to all the prize lists for 2021. It is such a different book than what is being published today. And read Lady Chatterley’s Lover, the book that started it all. Thank you @bloomsburypublishing for sending me this ARC.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Mandy

    D H Lawrence, Jackie Kennedy and J Edgar Hoover might seem unlikely bedfellows, but in this wonderfully compelling novel their stories are interwoven to great and sometime surprising effect. “Tenderness” was the original title of Lawrence’s inflammatory novel Lady Chatterley's Lover, and it is that book which is the backdrop to and inspiration for this multi-layered novel. There is enough material here for a number of books but MacLeod has expertly drawn all the threads together into one very sa D H Lawrence, Jackie Kennedy and J Edgar Hoover might seem unlikely bedfellows, but in this wonderfully compelling novel their stories are interwoven to great and sometime surprising effect. “Tenderness” was the original title of Lawrence’s inflammatory novel Lady Chatterley's Lover, and it is that book which is the backdrop to and inspiration for this multi-layered novel. There is enough material here for a number of books but MacLeod has expertly drawn all the threads together into one very satisfying tale. “The Exile” opens the novel at the end of Lawrence's life, and explores his life, ambition and writings amongst his friends and family, many of whom became models for the novel – often to their consternation. This part offers the reader real insight into Lawrence’s sometime difficult character and his relationships with others, including his wife Frieda. The second narrative thread – The Subversive” – follows Jackie Kennedy in the run-up to the 1960 presidential election, won of course by her husband JFK. Concerned for the fate of Lady Chatterley's Lover in the US she attends the American trial, necessarily incognito, but is spotted by a fictional FBI agent and is photographed, with this possibly incendiary photograph becoming ammunition in J Edgar Hoover’s machinations to take down her husband, a quite sinister and shameful episode in US history. The third part of the book covers the infamous British trial in 1960, and brings back many of the people who knew Lawrence earlier in life, including some of those whom he offended. This fusion of fiction and non-fiction is both gripping and convincing, and the result is a seriously ambitious novel that succeeds brilliantly. How much is true, how much fiction? Readers will have to do their own research, but this creative and original work is a fabulous piece of writing, which I thoroughly enjoyed.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Robin Price

    This epic novel is mesmerizingly beautiful and without a doubt the best book I have read in a great many years. I'm not sure I will read a better book in this lifetime. The novel moves with the pace of a thriller. The structure is stunning. D.H. Lawrence is tenderly and lovingly drawn and the huge cast of literati contemporaries add a realism and awareness that no factual biography could equal. What makes this book so magnificent is the way in which the author has brought together Lawrence and his This epic novel is mesmerizingly beautiful and without a doubt the best book I have read in a great many years. I'm not sure I will read a better book in this lifetime. The novel moves with the pace of a thriller. The structure is stunning. D.H. Lawrence is tenderly and lovingly drawn and the huge cast of literati contemporaries add a realism and awareness that no factual biography could equal. What makes this book so magnificent is the way in which the author has brought together Lawrence and his contemporaries, Jackie Kennedy, the FBI, and the London trial, with the precision of a vintage timepiece. Existing Lawrence fans will love and cherish this novel. Anyone new to Lawrence will rush to their nearest bookshop and buy everything they can find by him. Like Lady Chatterley's Lover this is a novel to appreciate and learn from. It is profoundly intelligent and perceptive, compelling and uplifting, and utterly unforgettable.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Hermien

    Three intriguing stories are interwoven in this book. Some biographical material about D.H. Lawrence's life, the Court case in 1960 to determine whether Penguin should be allowed to publish Lady Chatterley's Lover in its entirety and it also deals with Jackie Kennedy who finds herself in Edgar J. Hoover's sights for being "caught" reading the banned book. It led to lots of Googling and interesting fact checking. Three intriguing stories are interwoven in this book. Some biographical material about D.H. Lawrence's life, the Court case in 1960 to determine whether Penguin should be allowed to publish Lady Chatterley's Lover in its entirety and it also deals with Jackie Kennedy who finds herself in Edgar J. Hoover's sights for being "caught" reading the banned book. It led to lots of Googling and interesting fact checking.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Stephen Dilley

    Tenderness is a sweeping historical novel which explores D.H. Lawrence's life and legacy, from his original conception of Lady Chatterley's Lover in 1915 to the book's obscenity trial in 1960, which happened in the same week as Kennedy's election. Overall I found this an immensely enjoyable and illuminating novel; MacLeod's research is meticulous and she deftly weaves together real events, imagined events involving real-life characters and entirely imagined characters. In particular the storylin Tenderness is a sweeping historical novel which explores D.H. Lawrence's life and legacy, from his original conception of Lady Chatterley's Lover in 1915 to the book's obscenity trial in 1960, which happened in the same week as Kennedy's election. Overall I found this an immensely enjoyable and illuminating novel; MacLeod's research is meticulous and she deftly weaves together real events, imagined events involving real-life characters and entirely imagined characters. In particular the storyline involving Jackie Kennedy, J Edgar Hoover and an FBI agent makes an effective counterpart to the obscenity trial, with both showing the "grey elderlies" who have controlled society up to this point are unable to withstand the surging tide of liberalism. Another great strength of the novel is the way that MacLeod succeeds in building genuine tension even though the outcome of both the election and the trial are already known. MacLeod's characters are all fully realised. Lawrence, in particular, emerges as a deeply flawed figure, at times intensely voyeuristic and exploitative, but also gifted with a rare understanding of human relations. The illustrious gallery of star witnesses in the trial are convincingly sketched, and MacLeod even shows compassion for the novel's antagonists, as with this description of the prosecutor Mervyn Griffith-Jones: "He was not unaware of his own narrowness, He knew that, beneath the Savile Row suit, the barristerial silk and wig, there shivered the man who stood naked under a cold shower each morning, and who, in spite of himself, wanted a woman like Constance to love him, to forgive him, and to release him from the person he didn't know how not to be." MacLeod's writing is engaging with some passages of beautiful lyricism. In spite of the novel's length and its non-chronological structure, it is for the most part a highly compelling read. A few passages do drag somewhat, particularly near the beginning, and at times the style becomes more biographical than novelistic, especially when writing about Lawrence's time in Sussex in 1915. A couple of stylistic choices felt a little gimmicky, too - the interleaving of passages from Lady Chatterley's Lover is effective in places but began to feel rather overdone, as did the use of backwards text during some flashbacks. For the most part, however, this is a clever, absorbing and rather beautiful book which celebrates the tenderness and intimacy of Lawrence's writing and life. Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for sending me an ARC to review.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Lianne

    I rarely quit a book, but I quit this one… too bad.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Burton

    Tenderness is the beautifully written, totally engrossing story of the novel Lady Chatterley's Lover and the censorship battles it faced not only at its initial publication but also later in 1960 in the UK and a year earlier in the USA. Woven in to the details of the trials is some of D H Lawrence's life and also the lives of the people he met and incorporated in to his stories. The US part of the story follows a different road with the interest of Jackie Kennedy in the novel. You build an affin Tenderness is the beautifully written, totally engrossing story of the novel Lady Chatterley's Lover and the censorship battles it faced not only at its initial publication but also later in 1960 in the UK and a year earlier in the USA. Woven in to the details of the trials is some of D H Lawrence's life and also the lives of the people he met and incorporated in to his stories. The US part of the story follows a different road with the interest of Jackie Kennedy in the novel. You build an affinity with so many of the characters and not always the main ones within the stories. A truly great story, not an easy read at over 600 pages long but one that is definitely worth reading. I was given a copy of Tenderness by NetGalley and the publishers in return for an unbiased review

  11. 4 out of 5

    Liz

    I received this in exchange for an honest review in a First Reads giveaway. There were a number of things I loved about this book. The author's use of language to draw verbal pictures was one of the highlights of the book. I don't remember the last time I read anything where the author even came close to her ability to do that. The main problems with this book is that it is too long and too choppy. It would help to have fewer storylines going so the story would be streamlined and easier to follo I received this in exchange for an honest review in a First Reads giveaway. There were a number of things I loved about this book. The author's use of language to draw verbal pictures was one of the highlights of the book. I don't remember the last time I read anything where the author even came close to her ability to do that. The main problems with this book is that it is too long and too choppy. It would help to have fewer storylines going so the story would be streamlined and easier to follow.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Janilyn Kocher

    I was Drawn to the original premise of the book. I will read anything that has to do with Jackie Kennedy. I did enjoy those parts of this book. However, the rest of the book quickly lost my interest. It was rambling and jumbled. It was a miss for me. Thanks to Bloomsbury and NetGalley for the early copy.

  13. 5 out of 5

    EMD

    Wow! Outstanding novel. This was completely compelling. The characters had such depth and humanity. It’s one of my absolute favourites of all time.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Dennis K Pratt

  15. 5 out of 5

    Jane Davis

  16. 4 out of 5

    Melissa Squibb

  17. 4 out of 5

    Francisco Leonardo

  18. 4 out of 5

    Kayla A.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Pevebe

  20. 5 out of 5

    Sandra

  21. 4 out of 5

    Helen Grbevski

  22. 4 out of 5

    NINA ROSE

  23. 4 out of 5

    Mr Alan M Jewell

  24. 5 out of 5

    Fragode

  25. 5 out of 5

    Tracy Stonefield-Peters

  26. 5 out of 5

    Sam

  27. 5 out of 5

    Godefr

  28. 5 out of 5

    Joan

  29. 4 out of 5

    Lady R

  30. 5 out of 5

    Barbara

  31. 4 out of 5

    Sue

  32. 5 out of 5

    Shannon Dyer

  33. 5 out of 5

    Kathleen Bianchi

  34. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Mauldin

  35. 4 out of 5

    Katerina Kondrenko

  36. 4 out of 5

    Karren Sandercock

  37. 5 out of 5

    Aneta Panteleeva

  38. 4 out of 5

    Kristeen Hughes

  39. 5 out of 5

    Natasa

  40. 5 out of 5

    Joseph-Daniel Peter Paul Abondius

  41. 5 out of 5

    Leslie

  42. 5 out of 5

    Littlewing

  43. 4 out of 5

    Nefertari

  44. 4 out of 5

    Lindsay Collier

  45. 4 out of 5

    Jamie L

  46. 4 out of 5

    Megan Weiss

  47. 4 out of 5

    Leo

  48. 5 out of 5

    Rossa Sung

  49. 4 out of 5

    Lauren

  50. 4 out of 5

    TM

  51. 5 out of 5

    Cloie Shuffield

  52. 4 out of 5

    Louis Muñoz

  53. 5 out of 5

    Katie Lajiness

  54. 5 out of 5

    Magdalena aka A Bookaholic Swede

  55. 4 out of 5

    Amy

  56. 4 out of 5

    Lauren Paletta

  57. 4 out of 5

    Brat

  58. 4 out of 5

    Lívia Farkas

  59. 5 out of 5

    Amanda(manduhpaigereads)

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