Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov, Jeremy Irons I'd love to say that it took me so long to write this review because I was so busy thinking about what I would say. But I'm a slacker at heart, so I'll honestly admit that I just forgot.

This is the tale from the point of view of a pedophile: Humbert Humbert (crazy name, if you ask me). As a child, Humbert was never able to consummate his relationship to Annamarie before she died; as an adult, he is uncomfortably interested in little girls, whom he calls "nymphets". He journeys from Europe to America, and there, he meets Dolores Haze, the girl he calls "Lolita".

I don't think I've ever read a book that made me repulsed and awestruck simultaneously. I am repulsed because of the actions of Humbert; I am awestruck because of the beautiful language (Nabokov's first language wasn't English?!?! Really?! Is someone pulling the wool over my eyes) and because how sympathetic I grew to Humbert's character. Even as I type that last part, I cringe, wanting to distance myself as far away from Humbert's horrible actions as I can.

Humbert's actions are execrable; his obsession with little girls--their clothes, their childlike nature--are disgusting. However, in the form of a gifted author, Nabokov has made Humbert's character relatable. Humbert tries to excuse himself for his actions--she was precocious, he really loved her--in a way that everyone can relate to in one way or another. Humbert at times tries hard to rebel against his desires. And the ending shows that he has grown somewhat. I found it somewhat ironic (maybe misusing that word? maybe the word I'm looking for is "strangely amusing"?) that Humbert is not arrested for pedophile, but for murder.

Many authors wouldn't have dared to write a protagonist the way Nabokov has. Many authors wouldn't want the trouble of trying to make a hideously flawed protagonist relatable. In many authors' hands, Humbert would have become an evil demon; Lolita would have been the wounded lamb. But in Nabokov's story, both are flawed characters. Humbert isn't completely horrible; Lolita isn't a perfect princess. And I think that is what impresses me most.

The story takes its time getting to the meat, and once it does, it tends to meander around, not much different than the cross-country journey Humbert embarks on. At times, it bored me (particularly in the middle--I could have done with a lot less of the journeys). Other times, I reveled in Nabokov's exquisite language. His words were an art; the prose never felt purply or irrelevant.

Add to this the wonderful narrator, Jeremy Irons, for the audiobook, and I was a very happy camper.

"Lolita" is one of the many books on the Banned Books List. And a part of me can understand why it is there: it seems to give a favorable light to pedophilia. But a closer look at the book really reveals something quite different. I would recommend only to older or more mature teens. But this is a great classic, a book I recommend reading like you would drink wine: slowly, with plenty of time to taste.