D H Lawrence is back in vogue. This year has already seen the publication of an original and stylish biography by Frances Wilson, while Rachel Cusk has written a novel inspired by Mabel Dodge Luhan’s encounter with Lawrence in New Mexico. Neither of these books, however, deals with what he is most famous for: Lady Chatterley’s Lover.
Alison MacLeod’s latest novel, Tenderness, is different. It deals explicitly with the conception of Lady Chatterley’s Lover and its resonances in mid-20th-century Britain and America. Lawrence appears as a character. So do Jackie Kennedy, J Edgar Hoover and Allen Lane.
The narrative is nonlinear and cosmopolitan. Chapters switch from 1930 to the late 1950s and back to the First World War. There are scenes set in continental Europe, the South Downs, New England and London. The novel starts in 1930, the final year of Lawrence’s life, in Cap