Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
Mrs. Dalloway is the portrait of a single day in a woman’s life. Mrs. Clarissa Dalloway is preoccupied with the last-minute details of party preparation – fresh flower shopping, new dress buying, and festive room decorating. As she readies her house for friends and neighbors, memories flood her mind, and she is awash in the sensations of faraway times. Clarissa blissfully relives her carefree youth and early loves, stoically witnesses the approach and retreat of war’s grinding realities, carefully re-examines the solid reasons behind her practical marriage, and hesitantly looks ahead to the unfamiliar work of growing old. In this revelatory and experimental novel, the past, present, and visions of the future melt together in each and every moment. Mrs. Dalloway is not only a detailed rendering of a vivid human life, it is the outline on paper of human consciousness.
When I started to read Mrs. Dalloway I was honestly turned off for the first few pages. There was a great amount of description and very little dialogue. It was not what I’m used to reading but I knew I had to get through it, as it was on my academic reading list. After a few more pages something inside of my mind opened up and I allowed the story to flow.
This story was absolutely brilliant. Even though there were no chapters, considering it all took place in one day, the story moved from one place to another; from one character to another. And it was so effortless. You would be following Mrs. Dalloway into the flower shop and then in the midst of things a motorcar, with someone of importance inside, takes control of the story; following it down the street through other characters points of view instead of simply saying, “the car went past”. It was amazingly worded.
Aside from Clarissa Dalloway, you had several characters from her life, both past and present, making their way through the story. However, you also follow a young couple, Mr. and Mrs. Septimus Warren Smith, at particular intervals in the story. They seem to cross paths with one or another character and Virginia Woolf takes the time to lead you through their story as well. The trips into the things this couple is going through doesn’t take away from the movement of the story either, it flows right along with a lead in and a lead out phrase.
I do not want to give too much away as far as specifics, however I will say that even though Mrs. Dalloway and Septimus seem to be two different entities entirely, the two are very relevant to one another. Also, each character, major and minor, shows up at a key point within the book, so you must pay attention. The characters all have names for a reason.
This book gets two thumbs up and five stars from me. You actually have to read it to really understand. Like I said, I don’t want to give away specifics, but if you are a lover of words and/or want to have strong dealings in the literary world, I would strongly suggest taking the time to read this book. You will definitely thank me later.