Virginia Woolf, ‘Mrs Dalloway’
A pleasant surprise in more ways than one. From my previous reading of Virginia Woolf, I was expecting a long hard slog through a lengthy prose piece that was only semi-comprehensible at the best of times, and interminably dull at the worst. This is mid-length, and rather concise. Woolf herself commented that she had ‘high hopes’ for this novel, and it is obvious why. It contains many traces of the shifting stream of conciousness narration techniques used in ‘To the Lighthouse’, but is far more accessible, and contains considerably more plot than the latter novel too (although this is still Woolf, don’t expect a page-turner, you’ll be dissapointed). However, a degree of engagement is still necessary to enjoy this book.
Set in London, with many references to location and descriptions of the London scene in the twenties, yet with a remarkably well worked juxtaposition of town and country. This is essentially the story of three people, Clarissa Dalloway, her ex-lover Peter, and an ex-soldier. The scene is set extremely well, and the characters distinctive and alive. The shadow of the first world war and the newly burgeoning consumer society loom large over this book, as do the themes of time, and the public and private spheres. An interesting and highly illuminating read.