This effervescent novel follows the early life of the beloved muse of DH Lawrence. Frieda, the daughter of a penniless German aristocrat, has married a dry academic. Although she is the mother of three adored children, she longs for a life of wild passion. She travels to Germany where she learns about free love outside the confines of marriage; this new way of living is violently at odds with life as a housewife in suburban Nottingham. Then David Herbert Lawrence appears and thus begins a tumultuous love affair. Annabel Abbs has written a wonderful portrait of an extraordinary woman.
In animating a vital (in all senses) figure plucked from the footnotes of literary history, Abbs hasn’t offered any of the details that make Frieda difficult to applaud a century on. And why should she? Nothing was easy for her, after all. Frieda emerges as a woman at once scandalously out of step with the #MeToo moment and wholly herself and it is this contradiction that gives Abbs’s exuberant novel its compelling charge.