A while ago I started a shidduch reading list. I think I may add The Lost Girl to the list, with the rating “u” for un-aidel.
I picked it up with great reservation; it was the next thing on my shelf, so I started cautiously. But it was impossible not to be swept up in the vigorous rush of poetry that is D.H. Lawrence’s writing style. I’ve never read anything quite like it before. And it’s scary how right he gets things. Some of them are just things that I’ve always thought – like: “Men can suck the heady juice of exalted self-importance from the bitter weed of failure… but to a woman, failure is… humiliation.” I’ve always thought that this was the answer to two FAQs in the business world: 1) why aren’t there more female CEOs and 2) how is it that CEOs can parachute from failure to failure, running successive companies into the ground, and never thinking that maybe they’re unfit for the job. The blithe self-confidence of men in the face of personal failure never ceases to astound me.
There was another paragraph that tickled me, because it seems like some things haven’t changed since 1920:
Why, in the name of all prosperity, should every class but the lowest in such a society hang over burdened with Dead Sea fruit of odd women, unmarried, unmarriageable women, called old maids? Why is it that every tradesman, every schoolmaster, every bank manager, and every clergyman produces one, two, three, or more old maids. Do the middle classes… give birth to more girls than boys? Or do the lower middle class men assiduously climb up or down in marriage, thus leaving their true partners stranded? Or are middle class women very squeamish in their choice of husbands?
The suggested explanations are almost the same as for our “shidduch crisis.”
Anyway, the reason it’s a shidduch novel is not so much because it’s about shidduchim (it’s not), as it’s about becoming an old maid. It’s a very dark and depression view of old maidhood, but a cursory glance at our society – particularly that notorious Upper West Side – suggests that D.H. Lawrence got something right. And of course, there are all those moments in the book when you wonder if he’s been sneaking peeks at your diary, which is even scarier, considering how the plot runs. I’m not finished yet, but as of page 261, I think it ought to be added to the reading list as a warning. I reserve complete judgement til the end, though.