Book Review: Frieda – a Novel of the Real Lady Chatterley, by Annabel Abbs

Available in bookshops nationwide. 

cv_frieda.jpgThis book tells the moving story of Frieda von Richthofen, wife of D.H. Lawrence – and the real-life inspiration for Lady Chatterley’s Lover, a novel banned for more than 30 years.

Frieda, daughter of German aristocrat Baron von Richthofen is married to English professor Ernest Weekley and living in Nottingham. A visit from her sister unsettles her and she decides to visit Germany, leaving her three children with Ernest and the nanny. It is 1907 and Munich is a city alive with new ideas and free love so it seems inevitable for Frieda to take a lover. Her experience awakens her sexually and Otto stimulates her intellectual thinking as well so that when she returns to England she continues to write to him and dreams of their time together.

Ernest invites a former student D H Lawrence to lunch , but when Ernest is delayed Frieda finds herself relaxing and warming to the young man who is keen to go to Germany for work. She decided ‘if she was still as dazzled by him, she would take him to the woods and show him who she truely was’. The year is now 1912 and their relationship is volatile and causes great heartache and anxiety in the family.

The book is written in eight parts taking the reader from England to Germany, Italy and back to London while the epilogue is back in Italy in 1927 with Lawrence working on Lady Chatterley’s Lover.

Author Annabel Abbs lives in London with her husband and four children. Her debut novel The Joyce Girl has won a number of awards. Her writing style is soft and gentle with a wonderful use of the English language,’She hadn’t intended to lie naked in the open air but as she walked through the woods , a sudden breeze had rushed up her skirt, rattling and pulling at her underclothes as if trying to prise them off.’

Having read Lady Chatterley’s Lover in my final year at high school I was keen to read Frieda and found it added a lot of background to the characters and I will read Lady Chatterley again shortly. The historical notes at the rear of the book added useful information about the characters and DH Lawrence’s books. It is a great read and I am sure will be enjoyed by many people especially those who have read some of DH Lawrence’s novels.

Reviewed by Lesley McIntosh

Frieda – A novel of the Real Lady Chatterley
by Annabel Abbs
Published by Hachette
ISBN 9780733640117

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