Humbert Humbert - scholar, aesthete and romantic - has fallen completely and utterly in love with Lolita Haze, his landlady's gum-snapping, silky skinned twelve-year-old daughter. Reluctantly agreeing to marry Mrs Haze just to be close to Lolita, Humbert suffers greatly in the pursuit of romance; but when Lo herself starts looking for attention elsewhere, he will carry her off on a desperate cross-country misadventure, all in the name of Love. Hilarious, flamboyant, heart-breaking and full of ingenious word play, Lolita is an immaculate, unforgettable masterpiece of obsession, delusion and lust. [ synopsis from goodreads ]
So this is yet another book that I have no idea how I felt about. This one was, honestly, really tough to read and in more ways than one.
First off, this book was completely and totally beautifully written. I loved the style and the view point. It was a really amazing way to format a book and for the first hundred pages or so that really drew me in. But there were little things along the way that were problematic. For one thing the bits of French and other languages throughout really slowed me down. I haven't taken French for a while and have lost a lot of what I learned. And I can't stand not understanding what it says. So I would go translate and each every phrase and, sometimes, the translations weren't easy to find? So at some points reading this book was almost like a scavenger hunt to figure out what on earth it was trying to say.
The other main problem was the subject matter. My book club chose this as a romance. Obviously we didn't know what it was about before we chose it. Because this is not even close to being a romance. And at the points when I found myself liking this book, I hated myself. Because how could I like this book when Dolores was suffering so? It felt wrong. And to like it when it was from Humbert's point of view? That seemed even worse.
So honestly, when I finished this one I was mostly just glad it was over?? I was glad I could move on to other things. Because reading it was very taxing. I felt like it would never end. But I am glad to have read it. I’d heard a lot about it and I’d always been curious. So I'm glad I finally satisfied that curiosity even though actually reading it was such an ordeal.
But now let's talk about the ending. I spent the entire novel hoping and hoping that Dolly would escape. And then she did. And found a better life. And then it didn’t last. That was a horrible end for her and I wish she would’ve had better. But I think this book is actually very true of life and things don’t always end happily in life. So, in that respect, I understand why this novel ended the way it did. But that doesn't mean I'm happy about it.
There are a lot of different viewpoints out there about this book and a lot about Dolores Haze, especially the parts of her we don’t really see/think about. She’s a very interesting character and she definitely didn’t deserve what this book threw at her. But she did fight and, honestly, she’s one of my heroes. She was what kept me going in this book and she’s the reason I’ll always remember it. And, for that, I’ll always be glad I read this book.
Because there are so many Dolores Hazes out there whose stories will never be told and who fight their battles silently. And so many of them don’t win. And stories like this need to be told. Because maybe the more we hear them, the more we’ll do something about them. And maybe that’s how we make a better world. We stop looking the other way and start fighting. For Lo.
So I would recommend this book to everyone. It makes us uncomfortable for all the right reasons. But, yet, it's one we shy away from. It's controversial. We shouldn't read it because no one should ever have to read about rape. But rape happens every day. And every day there are people who could help stop it but don't. And maybe the reasons they don't are because we don't talk about it enough. We let it be a subject we staunchly ignore. And I think that's wrong.
So while I had my own problems with liking this book, it's an experience I think I needed. And it's one I will always remember. And I hope you will read it too. And remember it. And maybe help fight for people like Lo. Because Humbert took everything from her. And he didn't deserve to win. But there are people like Humbert all over the world and so many of them do win. Maybe that's what Nabokov was really trying to say with this one.
Because all things considered, this was Lo's story. And that's how we need to remember it and why we need to read it. Remember the victim, not the perpetrator.
review originally posted on goodreads