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BOOK REVIEW – D H LAWRENCE – THE ROCKING HORSE WINNER 1926 (Various editions)

A rare work of horror science fiction for Lawrence, and one of the saddest stories he ever wrote. It’s a far cry from The Rainbow and: Lady Chatterley’s Lover.

A middle class mother is living beyond her means and constantly lamenting a need for more money. She feels very cold towards her three children, but she puts on such appearances of affection that they all feel loved by her anyway.  As a present, she buys her only son, Paul, a rocking horse.

When he rides the horse, Paul is haunted by the house demanding more money, improvements in the family’s luck, and if he rides hard enough, like a real jockey racing at Ascot or similar race tracks, (even hitting the rocking horse with a toy riding crop) it grants him the names of the wining horses in real forthcoming races. Paul shares his tips with his uncle, who wins lots of money, and though Paul tells them how he achieves this, he tells them to give he winnings to his mother as if gained from business investments.

As the mother receives the gift money, she spends it too quickly and the boy’s races take their toll on his health, until he collapses from the rocking horse in a fever that will shortly kill him, but he has named one last winning horse and secured his mother’s good luck and fortune in his sacrifice. Only now does she learn the truth about her money – her materialism and coldness has been rewarded at a terrible price.

The story has been filmed, in a 1949 version with John Mills and Valerie Hobson. It would not have been out of place as an episode of The Twilight Zone.

Wikipedia link to the story’s history. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Rocking-Horse_Winner

 

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