“Let us read, and let us dance;
these two amusements will never do any harm to the world.”

Monday, 24 September 2012

The LainiBop Challenge - Book 19 - Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf

I made this: Avid Reader at 8:00 am


The LainiBop Challenge


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Sigh, Virginia, Virginia, Virginia! This book was on my TBR shelf, but I also picked it this month as part of my mini challenge to attempt to read at least one book from 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die every month. The reason this was on my shelf in the first place was because it was part of one of my courses for English Lit in college. I couldn't finish it then, and I really struggled to finish it now.

It is set during the course of one day in London, the day of Clarissa Dalloway's party. It follows numerous characters throughout the day; Clarissa and her husband Richard; Clarissa's ex-fiancee Peter Walsh; also Septimus Warren Smith and his wife Rezia among others.

At this point I would normally give a brief synopsis of the beginning of the book, but with this I just can't. I don't feel that anything much happened and I get the feeling that that's half the point of the novel, which just makes my head hurt. It is written in a sort of “Stream of Consciousness” style which I personally find very hard to read. It also flicks from one person to another so quickly that I found myself losing track of whose brain I was in at any given moment.

I won't insult anyone who loves this book by trying to give a synopsis, and instead I'll just give my opinion. I can see how people would think this is a wonderful book, I really can. When put in perspective of Virginia Woolf's state of mind and her struggle with depression, you can see how this is reflected brilliantly in the character of Septimus Warren Smith - a war veteran suffering from Post Traumatic Stress. Virginia Woolf herself suffered from severe depression, and treatments such as rest and good food were prescribed to her, much like Mr Smith in the novel. Judging by the way she writes about his depression and his doctors, Virginia Woolf was painfully aware of how ridiculous these cures were and how the illness she suffered from was not being taken seriously by anyone at the time. In fact it was mostly thought to be imaginary, something that the person would grow out of with rest.

To me, the story of Septimus and his wife was the only bit of the novel that I felt in anyway meaningful. It's the only bit that I enjoyed, maybe because I felt that his mental condition was really what she intended to write about. All the other characters are much more 2 dimensional, and I just didn't care about them. It also took me about 2 and a half weeks to read this, and considering it was only about 200 pages long, that shows how much of a struggle it was. Will be avoiding Virginia Woolf like the plague from now on I think, just not for me.


SCORE       3/10

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Her To Be Read Challenge - The Countdown Begins!

Book 30 - ?
Book 29 - ?
Book 28 - Sexing the Cherries by Jeanette Winterson
Book 27 - Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Book 26 - Breaking Dawn by Stephanie Meyer
Book 25 - Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell
Book 24 - From the Earth to the Moon by Jules Verne
Book 23 - Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
Book 22 - Not a Penny More, Not a Penny Less by Jeffery Archer

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sianandcrookedrib on 24 September 2012 at 09:49 said...

Oh no! This is one of my favourite books, I love it! But don't give up on Woolf - try Orlando which is less stream of consciousness, more fun.

BookElf on 24 September 2012 at 12:51 said...

I spent three months at uni hating this book, thought it was like reading through glue. Writing stream of conciousness is the most fun ever, reading it is a little different! HOWEVER, read The Hours, by Michael Cunningham, which is a companion piece to this, as it is excellent. The film is pretty good too.


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