Wednesday 9 May 2012

Mrs Dalloway - Virginia Woolf

Clarissa Dalloway is throwing a party in her home. First though she has a day of errands to prepare. As she goes about her day she bumps into friends from her past and even old flames. This causes her to reflect on her past and wonder what would have been or whether she made the right decisions in life.

That wee blurb really doesn't do this fantastic book justice but that is essentially what happens. Except as she goes about her day the book also enters the minds of others that she comes across. It's done so fluidly that it can surprise you that you are reading someone else's thoughts and experiences. It's the 1920s and everyone is supposed to be celebrating the end of the war. It is the roaring 20's after all. The atmosphere at the start of the book does reflect that somewhat but as we delve further and further in we see that not everyone has a reason to celebrate.

Perhaps the most obvious is the thread of Septimus Smith who is traumatised after returning from the war. However, he isn't the only one. Dalloway's old flame, Peter Smith, has hit hard times himself and must rely on friends to find him work. Then there is her daughter's tutor who is angry that life hasn't given her the freedom she expected. Instead she lives in poverty and has to make do tutoring.

There is more of course which shows that the book really isn't about a lady of class holding a party to help her husband socialise with those who can help him in his career. Each of these characters had their dreams and none of them realised them in a way. Or if they did it turned out not what they expected. Dalloway's daughter is the only one who still dreams of her future and this makes her the perfect contrast.

Such a short book and yet it managed all this and managed to give everyone of these characters great depth.  I felt that I came away knowing every single one of these characters. What I loved the most was how easily the book flowed from one character to the next without having to break. Look forward to reading more books by Woolf in the future.

I read this as part of the classics month challenge hosted by Katherine of November's Autumn. I haven't done the prompt yet which is about the period of the book. I think it would be fairly interesting to discuss but not sure if I will manage it this month. See what my schedule is like when I get it tomorrow. Otherwise, I highly recommend this classic. Don't be fooled by the frivolous sound of the blurb. Oh, and yes, this is another Vintage classics cover.


  1. This cover is simply adorable! I'm almost tempted to go get Mrs. Dalloway now simply because of its beauty :) Your description sounds really inriguing and
    I've been meaning to give Virginia Woolf a try for quite a time now anyway, so perhaps the idea is not so bad after all?

  2. I read this last year and, more than anything, I fell in love with Woolf's lyrical prose.

    And also, damn you (not really) and those Vintage Covers that are so freaking beautiful. I can't keep updating my library every time a new cover comes out (although I desperately want to).

  3. Oh yay. I'm going to be reading this book this month for an online book club. I'm glad to see such a positive review. I love books with well-rounded characters. I can't wait to get started!

  4. I recently reread this novel with my banned book group and fell in love with it all over again. Have you read The Hours? If not, reading it soon will be a wonderful experience.