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Mrs. Dalloway

3.76 of 5 stars 3.76  ·  rating details  ·  98,332 ratings  ·  3,778 reviews
Mrs. Dalloway is a novel by Virginia Woolf that details a day in the life of Clarissa Dalloway, a fictional high-society woman in post-World War I England. It is one of Woolf's best-known novels.

Created from two short stories, "Mrs Dalloway in Bond Street" and the unfinished "The Prime Minister," the novel addresses Clarissa's preparations for a party she will host that ev...more
Hardcover, 194 pages
Published October 28th 2002 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (first published 1925)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Jason
Experiencing Mrs. Dalloway is like being a piece of luggage on an airport conveyor belt, traversing lazily through a crowd of passengers, over and around and back again, but with the added bonus of being able to read people’s thoughts as they pass; this one checking his flight schedule, that one arguing with his wife, the one over there struggling with her cart, bumping into those arguing and checking. For the most part, the ride is smooth as Woolf transitions from one consciousness to another....more
Bram
While reading her works, I get the impression that Virginia Woolf knows everything about people and that she understands life better than anyone, ever. Is there a single hidden feeling or uncommon perspective with which she is not intimately acquainted? And does anyone else draw forth these feelings and perspectives with more grace and empathy, and impart them to us in such a lush, inimitable fashion? Perhaps. But you’d never think that while immersed in her exquisite, adult dramas. In Mrs. Dall...more
sckenda
Mrs. Dalloway plans a party; Septimus Smith plans a death: one day in life. Woolf unites the stories of Clarissa and Smith, though they never meet, and she interweaves the interior monologues and memories of multiple characters into the sights and sounds of a London day, shortly after the end of World War I.

Clarissa knows how to select flowers and arrange them for her party. Was she as successful at selecting love and building a life? As she goes about her day, she reflects on her life’s choice...more
s.penkevich
Feb 22, 2014 s.penkevich rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
Moments like this are buds on the tree of life.

Our lives are an elaborate and exquisite collage of moments. Each moment beautiful and powerful on their own when reflected upon, turned about and examined to breath in the full nostalgia for each glorious moment gone by, yet it is the compendium of moments that truly form our history of individuality. Yet, what is an expression of individuality if it is not taken in relation to all the lives around us, as a moment in history, a drop in a multitud...more
Kalliope

I love travelling by train, and this is one of the best environments for reading. Luckily I got a seat for myself and the coach is pleasant. There is so much light. How enjoyable!

What a funny way to start the book. Someone says that Clarissa Dalloway is setting off to buy the flowers. But here is the famous quote What a lark!, what a plunge!, but it is not quite at the beginning of the book and cannot quite join other iconic beginnings like Call me Ishmael.. or Longtemps je me suis couché de bon...more
Traveller
I apologize for writing so much; but there was just so much to write about...

On the surface, this appears to be a boring little account of a boring woman getting ready for throwing a boring snobbish party at the end of the depicted day, with various interludes and people wandering around London during the course of the day, thinking all sorts of freeflowing thoughts and having flashbacks to their pasts. ...but every time you examine this novel to try and critique it, something new about the nove...more
Kelly
Virginia Woolf made me feel like a drunken gardener, a diver on the verge of the bends, a foot stamping child, a foal tripping over its own legs trying desperately to get to its mother. And you know, I really don’t like feeling like any of these things. What is worse, she set up a buffet of champagne, mimosas, fruit and jam, white table cloths fluttering on a patio in the sunshine and light breezes, let me settle myself down to watch a perfectly civilized game of tennis between old pals from Eto...more
Jessica
Sep 29, 2007 Jessica rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: broke, book-loving teenagers and anyone else looking for a cheap high
Shelves: happyendings
Okay, so this is very fabulous novel and in my opinion one of the Greatest, despite the fact that for me it was not exactly a breeze to get through. I mean, it wasn't painful or anything, but nor was it one I just sat down and plowed through like a maniac until I was through. I carried the thing around with me for awhile and poked at it in fits and starts over a period of time. I think Virginia Woolf is a genius, but there's something kind of inaccessible about her to me, maybe because I'm not a...more
Ian Paganus de Fish
Of Life and Death, Verbs and Nouns

I expected this novel to be difficult. However, it wasn't difficult at all. It was an enormous pleasure.

I was struck by the preponderance of verbs .

The novel might happen in the head of Clarissa Dalloway or the other characters, but they are observing activity and their thoughts reflect it.

It is more dynamic than passive or self-conscious or self-reflective.

It was less a stream of consciousness, than a consciousness of life as a stream or a number of streams, r...more
Aubrey
There was no one in him; behind his face...and his words, which were copious, fantastic and stormy, there was only a bit of coldness, a dream dreamt by no one.

[...]

The fundamental identity of existing, dreaming and acting inspired famous passages of his.

-Jorge Luis Borges, 'Everything and Nothing', Labyrinths
Let us speak of art and time and intimate at fame. Men write it, women live it, as some would still believe, passing by the book and poem and burst of song of female form and male construct...more
Rakhi Dalal
Aug 01, 2013 Rakhi Dalal rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Woolf fans
I wasn’t very far behind her. Just a few paces while she walked her way through the roads to the flower shop. She liked giving parties. I had asked her why. I find it very, very dangerous to live even one day, she once said. What could she possibly mean by that? I contemplated. To her, her body, with all its capacities, seemed nothing. She only thought of herself as being Mrs. Richard Dalloway. Is this the reason why she didn’t marry Peter? Would Peter have been able to make her feel like just M...more
matt

This is the third time I've started it. Not because I 'couldn't get into it' or anything like that, more because I can't bear to have to put it down at all...


I'm just spellbound.

Woolf has been a dangling presence for me in the past however many years...I went through about a hundred pages apiece of this and lighthouse and saw something profound...I think I lost the copies of them or something else interrupted. I put it on the shelf and left it for another time...

Well, the time is now.

I've a...more
Szplug
Beyond the opening sentence, rightly considered amongst the best fictive beginners ever, the entire first page of Mrs. Dalloway gets at what are, for me, its two pervasive strengths. After that classic first line and a slightly more fleshed out, light-hearted follower, the reader breezes into this:
What a lark! What a plunge! For so it had always seemed to her, when, with a little squeak of the hinges, which she could hear now, she had burst open the French windows and plunged at Bourton into th
...more
Paquita Maria Sanchez
I promise to review this properly some day, to really discuss it in a manner resembling what it deserves, but right now I am tired and a bit wine-infused and distracted by my neighbor once again making strange Buffalo Bill-esque moan-y weird sounds through my paper-thin apartment wall, so I just have one question at the moment: Where have you been all my life?

This woman...sorry, this person was brilliant, particularly in the realm of intuition expressed through microcosm-like paragraphs. Worlds...more
Paul
Mar 30, 2013 Paul rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: novels

THE TERMINATOR 2 OF DOILEYS

I can see why people hate Mrs-Dalloway-the-book (there are a fair few this-is-so-boring-I-lit-myself-on-fire kind of one/two star reviews) because Mrs Dalloway-the-book is the Terminator 2 of doileys, ribbons, and fetching hats, the Die Hard 4 of a sunny day in London, 1923, the Apocalypto of curtains and place mats and memories of moonlight boating parties; and the Transformers of wondering if you married the right person.

You have to get into Mrs Woolf’s style, which...more
Madeleine
Things I have done since opening up the "Edit review" page: opened three new tabs (one to buy five books, one to obsessively refresh that sickening "Exciting news!" announcement for new comments; one to mindlessly dick around the internet); compulsively checked my e-mail with an embarrassing frequency; started the dishwasher; wrote and deleted three different review first paragraphs; contemplated a breakfast of Starburst jelly beans and a cigarette; contemplated a breakfast beer; regretted not w...more
Sarah
Mrs. Dalloway is one of those books one is supposed to adore for its disruption of convention and innovative use of time, sound, parallel narrative structure etc. While I respect and admire the literary advances VW makes with this novel, I just can't get into it. I've read it three times over the course of my reading life, once at 17 then at 21, and finally just a few months ago. I find it sleepy like dozing in a warm insect filled garden, which is not a bad way to spend an afternoon (as long as...more
Cheryl
I planned early on to study my mind, motives, and influences on others. To me, the task was essential in the ongoing effort for moral responsibility. I sought answers to the eternal questions posed by sages, philosophers, and scribes to discern the meaning of life.

Curiosity for these quandaries precipatated my becoming a psychotherapist for the chronically mental ill.

But no learned text or research study, no listening therapeutic hour or analytic supervision taught me what it means to be human,...more
Jenn(ifer)
Jul 16, 2012 Jenn(ifer) rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anglophiles
Recommended to Jenn(ifer) by: the fabulous GR reviewers
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3 1/2 stars
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I am so glad there isn’t someone writing down every thought that comes to my head Stranger Than Fiction style, otherwise I’d probably come across as emotionally labile as the majority of characters we meet over the course of a day on the streets of London. One moment Clarissa Dalloway seems perfectly content with her life, yet one only needs to turn the page and suddenly darkness comes over her like a wave and emptiness pervades her soul (what? you think I'm be...more
Jonathan

Mrs. Dalloway is a work like Ulysses. Perhaps it may seem like prestigious name dropping to mention the two together, yet the comparison is the only one I can make. I should add, however that it is more like the child of Ulysses and Jane Eyre. It possesses the social sensibilities of Jane Eyre while adopting the difficulties and intellectual stimulation of Ulysses.

The story of Mrs. Dalloway is far less interesting than the plot itself and the linguistic deliberations of the work. The story, told...more
Eric
Virginia Woolf and the semicolon! The strung-bead style of Mrs. Dalloway is an amazing achievement—the sentences so flexible, expandable, following perfectly the contours of the characters’ subjectivities. Clarissa hates Miss Kilman in a passage that piles up negatives, accretes disgusts, gropes for reasons in the just the style of someone inveighing against a shadow in conversation, in a personal letter (the novel, with Clarissa and Peter trying to sort out their feelings for one another, at ti...more
Ellen


Perhaps being a visual learner/thinker is just shorthand for being an aural idiot, but Ansel Adams' photograph captures how I see Mrs. Dalloway:


description

When I was reading the book, I kept thinking of splintered glass. What Virginia Woolf does so deftly here is move you from the mind of one character into the thoughts of another. There’s no discernible transition, and yet, as she focuses on another character it’s as though the light shifts slightly and a different shard is illuminated; the edges are shar...more
Fionnuala
Mrs D is just so eloquent that I've decided to let her do the talking: She was not old yet. She had just broken into her fifty-second year. Months and months of it were still untouched. June, July, August! Each still remained almost whole, and, as if to catch the falling drop, Clarissa (crossing to the dressing-table) plunged into the very heart of the moment, transfixed it, there - the moment of this June morning on which the pressure of all the other mornings, seeing the glass, the dressing-ta...more
Michael
How does one review a book so unusual? Michael wondered.

This raw food diet still had everything inside churning like the clothes as they spun around the driers. The clinks as buttons slid along the metallic sides, the rasp of the air conditioner that was never turned off because it didn't work at all anyway, the light coming through the pain of the laundry room's one small window, as Michael looked out upon the shimmering light that hit the water of the swimming pool, always clean, always ready...more
Samadrita
Attempting to review this book is no less daunting a task than attempting to understand every printed passage on its many pages. Because this is Virginia Woolf we're talking about. But I'm trying anyway.

Reading Mrs Dalloway is like being rushed through a slideshow of images, none of them being very pretty to look at but each one of them vividly detailed. And all these images are meticulously stitched together by the words of a masterful writer, considered one of the best among her contemporaries...more
Jennifer (aka EM)
Jul 27, 2010 Jennifer (aka EM) rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jennifer (aka EM) by: jo
Shelves: novellas
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Geoff
Virginia Woolf’s use of the interior monologue is so centered in the emotional, in the memorial, in contrast to say, Joyce’s, which is so much more playful, intellectual, historical, and prone to flourish. It drifts about from person to person, almost butterfly-like, alighting here and there and opening a window or cascading down a well of time or simply gazing through the gaze of the character. The characters that inhabit Mrs. Dalloway are very much examples of that quote about most people livi...more
Paul
How to review a novel like this. I remember Evelyn Waugh’s comment about having to review/critique P G Wodehouse; “like taking a spade to a soufflé”. There has been a little debate recently about who to put on the back of the new £10 note in this country. Jane Austen seems to have won; I would have voted for Virginia Woolf!
Stream of consciousness and set in a day, but definitely not Ulysses; this, for me, is one of the great novels. Not only is it beautifully written, it is beautifully construct...more
Joseph
A dinner party in the works; flashbacks to the past; people from the past returning to the present; a soldier who finds society evil; and the decline of an empire all combined into a wonderful and image filled novel with several themes including some thoughts on a relationship (which may have been a direct reflection on the author). The book tackles several temporary controversies and most characters represent a particular issue.

Update from 8/25/2014

I really enjoy Virginia Woolf's writing and a...more
Lynne King
I’m a great lover of the Bloomsbury Set, of members such as Clive Bell, Saxon Sydney-Turner, Lytton Strachey, Virginia Woolf, Duncan Grant, Vanessa Bell, Leonard Woolf, John Maynard Keynes, etc. I loved all of them for their ethics and beliefs and they were so inspiring for this period at the beginning of the 20th Century. Consequently, I purchased many biographies about the members but it was the Diaries and also the Letters of Virginia Woolf that I found absolutely riveting. So I was quite con...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
More about Virginia Woolf...
To the Lighthouse A Room of One's Own Orlando The Waves Night and Day

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“She had the perpetual sense, as she watched the taxi cabs, of being out, out, far out to sea and alone; she always had the feeling that it was very, very, dangerous to live even one day.” 380 likes
“He thought her beautiful, believed her impeccably wise; dreamed of her, wrote poems to her, which, ignoring the subject, she corrected in red ink.” 307 likes
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