Lady Chatterley's Lover by D. H. Lawrence.
Lady Chatterley's Lover isn't just famous, it's notorious. It was first published privately in Italy in 1928, then in France and Australia in 1929. It wasn't published in England until 1960 (30 years after D.H. Lawrence's death) after the famous Regina vs. Penguin Books Ltd. trial that paved the way for the sexual revolution.
The plot of the novel is fairly simple: Connie Reid, a liberal bohemian, married Sir Clifford Chatterley in 1917, after which, during the war, he sustained an injury that left him paralysed from the waist down leaving any sexual relations with Connie impossible. Clifford pursues a career in writing, at which he is very successful, and intellectually he becomes a powerful man. Emotionally however he recedes almost to a childlike state when a nurse, Mrs. Bolton, is employed to take care of his every day needs. Connie's independence turns into isolation and frustration as she is surrounded by the great intellectuals of the age who lack physical passion. Her sexless life, in short, makes her feel trapped and depressed. And so she embarks on an affair with Sir Clifford's gamekeeper Oliver Mellors who fulfils her sexual and, eventually, her emotional needs.
There are two great barriers that are overcome in Lady Chatterley's Lover: firstly, the relationship of an upper class lady with a lower class gamekeeper, and secondly the explicit discussion of sex. Lawrence does not shy away from language many, still today, find offensive and he openly and unashamedly discusses women as sexual beings, moving abruptly away from the idea that sex is something women merely tolerate for the enjoyment of their husbands'. For this the publishers, Penguin, were prosecuted under the Obscene Publications Act 1959. The defence argued that publishing it would not corrupt the public and was for the good of the public (section 4 of the Act) and it was finally published in England. It sold out on its first day, selling 200,000 copies.
Nearly 60 years later Lady Chatterley's Lover is not as shocking as it was, though the language and frank descriptions will undoubtedly put off some. It's still an interesting novel, at the very least for curiosity's sake, being as it is a book that at the very least had a major role to play in the sexual revolution. As for the book itself: it is a good book that examines not only sex and relationships (both between individuals and of the mind and body) but also industrialisation with Clifford representing the mechanical industrialisation and Connie nature. It is a little overdone, though, which made it less enjoyable to read. Still it's a page-turner, and it was good to revisit it.