The Rocking Horse Winner

bookshelves: classics, british, re-read, short-stories, favorites

Recommended for: Everyone
Read on October 17, 2015, read count: 2
D.H. Lawrence’s 1926 classic short story, The Rocking Horse Winner pulls at your heartstrings from the get-go and refuses to let go until its tragic culmination. As seen below, the opening paragraph does more than make for an emotional first impression, Lawrence’s impressive and somehow beautiful prose sucks you in immediately, making it impossible to put down.

“There was a woman who was beautiful, who started with all the advantages, yet she had no luck. She married for love, and the love turned to dust. She had bonny children, yet she felt they had been thrust upon her, and she could not love them. They looked at her coldly, as if they were finding fault with her. And hurriedly she felt she must cover up some fault in herself. Yet what it was that she must cover up she never knew. Nevertheless, when her children were present, she always felt the centre of her heart go hard. This troubled her, and in her manner she was all the more gentle and anxious for her children, as if she loved them very much. Only she herself knew that at the centre of her heart was a hard little place that could not feel love, no, not for anybody. Everybody else said of her: “She is such a good mother. She adores her children.” Only she herself, and her children themselves, knew it was not so. They read it in each other’s eyes.”

From there, it only gets better. The dialogue is spot-on, relevant, and lifelike. The pictures that Lawrence delivers to the reader are incredibly vivid, increasingly compelling (I couldn’t finish it fast enough, really,) and though there are little details like the protagonist’s “uncanny blue eyes” that are emphasized for whatever reason, every word serves a purpose. It never felt verbose or unnecessary. On the contrary, literally every word is essential.

I have no more to say, other than read it for yourself if you haven’t. Even if you have (this was a re-read for me,) give it another go, it’s totally worth it.


8 thoughts on “The Rocking Horse Winner

    1. It’s great, I highly recommend it. If you’ve never read any D.H. Lawrence, you’re in for a treat. I’ll definitely be trying more of his work. It’s only about twenty pages, so it won’t take you long.

  1. Yeah, I know you won’t have much time in November, sadly.. I’m glad you liked it, as tragic as it is. Do you have any theories on the rocking horse itself, and how it was able to apparently do what it did?

    If you’d like to discuss it in full, feel free to e-mail me at

    If not, the comments section is fine, too!

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