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The Voyage Out

3.75  ·  Rating Details ·  6,347 Ratings  ·  390 Reviews
Woolf’s first novel is a haunting book, full of light and shadow. It takes Mr. and Mrs. Ambrose and their niece, Rachel, on a sea voyage from London to a resort on the South american coast. “It is a strange, tragic, inspired book whose scene is a South americanca not found on any map and reached by a boat which would not float on any sea, an americanca whose spiritual boun ...more
Paperback, 375 pages
Published February 3rd 2003 by Mariner Books (first published 1915)
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I’m sitting in front of my computer screen wondering which of several angles to choose in order to make this review something more than just another account of the plot and characters of The Voyage Out (1915).

My copy of the book is on the desk beside me and I’m sorting through the various passages I’ve underlined and the margin notes I’ve made, looking for the slant that will please me most. The following line describing leading character Helen Ambrose catches my eye: She had her embroidery fra
Rakhi Dalal
Jun 30, 2015 Rakhi Dalal rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Woolf fans
Shelves: woolf, bloomsbury, journey

“Life is not a series of gig lamps symmetrically arranged; life is a luminous halo, a semi-transparent envelope surrounding us from the beginning of consciousness to the end.”
― Virginia Woolf, Modern Fiction

If we look at her works, what we evidently notice is that the idea which most engages Virginia Woolf is that of life itself. Life as it is witnessed every day, the transition from one moment to the other and everything that comes in between. A life not symmetrically arranged in a destined pa
Aug 18, 2015 Cheryl rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classic-lit, woolf
"We may not always understand the pattern in front of us, Woolf seems to be saying, and we may spend the majority of our life isolated from others and trapped within our own experience, but only by reconnecting to the pattern through people and through art can we truly be alive," writes Pagan Harleman, the Woolf scholar who wrote this fascinating introduction to my Barnes and Noble Classics edition of The Voyage Out.

This voyage out really seems to be a voyage in, into the conscious choices of s
Jean-Paul Werner Walshaw-Sauter


I'm no longer afraid of Virginia Woolf! The Waves is one of my all time favourite books; I often return to the interludes instead of listening to music; Orlando swept me off my feet with its wondrous exuberance and after finishing The Voyage Out I feel I can finally tackle To The Lighthouse and Mrs Dolloway which, until recently, I had found so daunting.

"The ship gave a loud melancholy moan."

"She became a ship passing in the night - an emblem of the loneliness of human life, an occasion for quee
Diane S ☔
3.5 Hard for me to define my feelings on this novel, a stream of consciousness novel that has a great many characters. Woolf herself was an observer of people, of society and that is certainly apparent in her characters, their thoughts and the situations in which they find themselves. This is not an easy read, though it is a thought provoking one. One the one hand I am not sure that it needed as many characters as there were, made this more confusing than it needed to be. Some of the thoughts an ...more
Dec 03, 2012 Mariel rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: wanna win don't play
Recommended to Mariel by: colonize Mars on Earth Day
I wrote a review of The Voyage Out in July, 2012 after I read it. I deleted it because I lash out ("Stupid, stupid, stupid!") at myself. It's just a book review, Mars. I don't know how to use semi colons. I recognize them no more than I would see the brush strokes on a painting. The Virginia Woolf reviews on this site are more than a little intimidating. It isn't just because of the semi-colons but I gotta admit that I feel like Laura in The Glass Menagerie when she arrives to school late and ca ...more
Aug 15, 2016 Lisa rated it it was amazing
Three things that happened to me on the underground because of this book:

1) As I admire Virginia Woolf immensely and identify with her issues and topics, I tried very hard to find deep concentration to read in a very distractive environment: squished into a full train.
I fought against all odds to read the following paragraph:

"She was deep in the fifth book, stopping indeed to pencil a note, when a pair of boots dropped, one after another, on the floor above her. She looked up and speculated. Wh
22 February, 2014

Mr. H. Melville, Esq.
c/o The Spouter Inn, New Bedford, MA

My Dear Melville,

I pray this letter finds you well, as, you no doubt noticed, I could not do so in person. Do accept my apologies; since our whaling voyage two years ago it has been my fondest wish to journey with you again, and, indeed, it was my intention to visit you at the beginning of this year; but, alas, I have been detained by Mrs. Woolf. Damn that woman, she is too good! I did not mean to tarry long with her, but
Jul 24, 2015 Candi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics-shelf
Rachel Vinrace sets out on a voyage from the confines of her home in England, where she is raised by her spinster aunts, to the exotic coast of South America in the early twentieth century. But more than just the physical journey from one shore to another, The Voyage Out is a story of the transformation of this essentially unworldly girl to a more self-possessed woman in love with the seemingly enlightened yet searching young writer, Terence Hewet. Some of the most lovely and illuminating writin ...more
Mar 12, 2010 El rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Freaking fantastic.

Rachel Vinrace is a naive and vulnerable 24-year-old young woman on a sea voyage from London to a South American resort with her aunt and uncle. Having been sheltered the first 24 years of her life, Rachel is exceptionally shy and startled when meeting new people on the ship, particularly when they show genuine interest in her as a person and as an intellectual. The relationships she forms with these people affect her greatly, and she even falls in love. This isn't just a book
Nov 22, 2015 Joseph rated it really liked it
Shelves: british, bloomsbury
It's been three years since I read The Voyage Out, but a recent read and review of Winifred Holtby's 1932 biography of Virginia Woolf and her work piqued my interest. Holtby's discussion of characters, developed and one dimensional, symbolism, and method of story telling made re-reading The Voyage Out a much easier project. Interesting in the story was a quote about the main character, Rachel, who at twenty-four has no real education except for playing the piano. At one point, her guardian menti ...more
Debbie Zapata
Apr 14, 2015 Debbie Zapata rated it really liked it
Shelves: pg
Who's afraid of Virginia Woolf? I certainly was before I read The Voyage Out, the first novel she wrote. I may still be conquered when I try her later work in the infamous stream of consciousness style, but I am no longer intimidated by the idea, especially if she retains the wonderful ability to create stunning images and ideas the way she did in this book, which was not necessarily difficult to read, but does deserve 100% of
your attention.

The Voyage Out mainly tells the story of Rachel Vinra
So much has been written about Virginia Woolf and her work that I will not pretend to write a "review". Suffice it to say that, after a disappointing and unsuccessful attempt to read To the Lighthouse one year ago, I have managed to finish The Voyage Out.

This is a wonderful story which is packed full of stunning descriptions of place - both interior and exterior; unique and eccentric characters; sensitive evocations of a variety of human emotions; moods and memories; wishes and regrets. Virgini
Sonja - Intellectual Badass
She became a ship passing in the night - an emblem of the loneliness of human life, an occasion for queer confidences and sudden appeals for sympathy.
The Voyage Out is Virginia Woolf's literary debut and it is absolutely fantastic! I have to admit that when I started this novel I was hesitant and I was sure that it was just a classic. I thought I'd like it and maybe slightly enjoy it; but never love it. I've never been more wrong.

As soon as I finished the first chapter I realised that
May 30, 2016 Emanuel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Primeiro livro da Virginia que leio em que ela não recorre ao seu estilo marcado usando o fluxo de consciência. Assim "A Viagem" acabou por ser uma total surpresa, quando numa narrativa simples, Virginia surge com muito do que mais tarde explora nos seus trabalhos. Duas personagens são claramente inspiradas na autora, Rachel e Helen. Curioso ver que além dos laços de sangue, estas mulheres acabam por ser amigas e os seus destinos transparecem eventualmente os da autora, suposições. Além da loucu ...more
Viv JM
Having (to my shame) never read any Virginia Woolf, I decided to start with this, her first novel. It tells the story of a voyage from England to an unnamed country in South America. Among the passengers on this voyage are an innocent young woman, Rachel, and her aunt and uncle. The book is set partly on the ship, and then continues at a hotel in South America. Although it tells Rachel's story, there are many other different characters, both on the boat and at the hotel, whose lives and loves we ...more
Kee Queen

"To feel anything strongly was to create an abyss between oneself and others who feel strongly perhaps but differently. It appeared that nobody ever said a thing they meant, or ever talked of a feeling they felt, but that was what music was for."

I read Virginia Woolf for the second time last year with her non-fiction essays A Room Of One's Own, and Three Guineas. The first time I've encountered her was when I bought a secondhand copy of Carlyle's House and Other Sketches. I found her so intrig
ETA: There is in fact a reason for Woolf including so many characters, and there is another theme too - how people react to a life changing event, in this case (view spoiler). Woolf looks at people's behavior, the behavior of family members, close friends and other acquaintances too. All these people were a necessary part of the book. You can observe Woolf observing people and our different ways of behaving. This book does not leave you when completed! No, it's quite a good ...more
Jan 31, 2016 Rand rated it it was amazing
The characters and events of this novel appear and recede much like figures in a mist.

If you must have a clear and definite sense of conflict or plot, steer clear.

This is a story for those who have had their fill of the didactic tendency in literature. This is a story for those who take delight in an author's delight in illuminating the crevices of non-thought through sound.

So, try: this is a story for those who are content with beginning their readings from the final chapter and going on bac
Overall I found the novel on second reading to be very good. The fully developed Woolfian sense of humor is here. In the early going the book doesn't seem at all inferior to later more experimental works. Though those later works are leaner, more engaged with how to represent cognition in a text. In the later works, too, there is a somewhat greater ability to condense events to the numinous moment. That's here, too, but I think such moments get a little lost in the somewhat larger, more expansiv ...more
Sep 25, 2016 Poliana rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had to read this book for my paper on the 19th century novel. It was the last novel we read for that course and the idea was to discuss how Virginia Woolf deconstructed the structure of the traditional novel while establishing the modernist novel in the process. The Voyage Out is a very hard novel to describe: on the surface is about a group's trip to a fictional island located somewhere in South America; deep down it seems to be about the constraints of social convention and how they affect p ...more
Sep 30, 2015 Duane rated it really liked it
I personally consider Virginia Woolf the greatest writer of the 20th century, period, bar none, man or woman, doesn't matter. But I'm not a writer myself so I don't have the ability, I can't find the words to express what I feel about what I've read. Many of you can and do write beautiful reviews worthy of the books they honor. Many times I've said, "that's how I feel, that's what I think". Oh well.

Having said that, this book is not one of her best. It's not bad, it's very good actually, it just
Dec 20, 2013 Lobstergirl rated it liked it
Recommended to Lobstergirl by: Tyra Banks
Shelves: own, fiction

This is my first Woolf. I don't know what she intended with this novel, so for now I'll just go with my impressions as someone living in early 21st century America, where nearly everyone has to work for a living.

The characters in this novel don't. Oh, there's one wealthy industrialist, the ship-owner father of the protagonist, Rachel Vinrace - it's not clear if all his money comes from ship-owning, or some is inherited. Everyone else, with the exception of the one or two servants mentioned, has
This is the third novel I've read by Virginia Woolf and whilst I found it to be the most "readable" of the novels that I've read to date I couldn't in all honesty say that it was an easy read. I kept waiting for something to happen, some momentous event to push the story along. It wasn't until I gained some patience and just went with the flow that I began to see the light and appreciate the vein in which it is written.

One thing that has become apparent is that I shall have to source a copy of
"The voyage had begun, and had begun happily with a soft blue sky, and a calm sea. The sense of untapped resources, things to say as yet unsaid, made the hours significant, so that in future years the entire journey perhaps would be represented by this one scene, with the sound of sirens hooting in the river the night before, somehow mixing in."

In The Voyage Out, we meet a myriad of characters, but the main focus is on Rachel Vinrace, a young sheltered English girl who departs on a voyage with h
Here's another one. This is Virginia Woolf still finding her voice as a writer. Certainly if she had written like this throughout her career she would have been remembered, but probably not celebrated as a genius. This story still has some of the hallmarks of her famous writing - focus on characters' perceptions, use of setting as a symbol for the characters' journeys, lyrical writing and even irony. This story began calmly and slowly and then came to a pretty sincere climax. The personal voyage ...more
Jan 01, 2012 Kristen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, fiction, kindle
This may well be a five star novel, but for now I’ll stick with four being this is her first novel I'm supremely confident it only gets better (and based on the short stories I've read, my only exposure to *Woolf, I'm sure this is true.) I think Virginia Woolf could be my new Nabokov. So, why does everyone want to keep us apart? First Blake, and then the people at Dover Publishing with their miniscule font and nonexistent line spacing and then those free ebook folks who put out a kindle version ...more
Marts  (Thinker)
Published in 1915, this is Virginia Woolf’s first novel. It tells the story of 24 year old Rachael Vinrace who embarks her father’s ship for a South American voyage. It also highlights a personal voyage for Rachael where she leaves the sheltered London suburban life and steps into a new world in which freedom, self discovery, and interaction are pivotal…
The general path of the novel is one of discovery, to experience, to tragedy…

The character Clarissa Dalloway, the protagonist of her later novel
Elizabeth (Alaska)
Nov 19, 2012 Elizabeth (Alaska) rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle, 1001-books
I had a bit of a time getting into this. Woolf is all over the place and the story is very loosely constructed. Finally, I decided to just let her give me a glimpse of the lives of people before The Great War and enjoy myself. And, sure enough, it was at that point I became absorbed. There is more story than that, and there is no question she was determined to become an important feminist author - even if the term had not yet been coined.

I expected this to be mostly a sea voyage, yet another poi
Nov 30, 2007 Evan rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Woolf fans
An impressive first novel that took 9 years to write. (Sound familiar?) A voyage out from England to some South American port where the novel's miscellany are all vacationing. And a voyage out of a highly cloistered youth for the 24-year-old heroine. Interesting to reflect on how much this is NOT Jane Austen. The difference is that Woolf is suffused with the hope and promise of the early twentieth century to move beyond all the social bonds and injustices of the 19th, coupled with a tragic lack ...more
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(Adeline) Virginia Woolf was an English novelist and essayist regarded as one of the foremost modernist literary figures of the twentieth century.

During the interwar period, Woolf was a significant figure in London literary society and a member of the Bloomsbury Group. Her most famous works include the novels Mrs Dalloway (1925), To the Lighthouse (1927), and Orlando (1928), and the book-length es
More about Virginia Woolf...

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“I want to write a novel about Silence," he said; “the things people don’t say.” 181 likes
“I feel so intensely the delights of shutting oneself up in a little world of one’s own, with pictures and music and everything beautiful.” 170 likes
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