Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Waves” as Want to Read:
The Waves
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Read Book* *Different edition

The Waves

4.13  ·  Rating Details  ·  15,530 Ratings  ·  1,115 Reviews

The Waves is an astonishingly beautiful and poetic novel. It begins with six children playing in a garden by the sea and follows their lives as they grow up and experience friendship, love and grief at the death of their beloved friend Percival. Regarded by many as her greatest work, The Waves is also seen as Virgini
Paperback, 224 pages
Published December 2nd 2004 by Vintage Classics (first published October 8th 1931)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Waves, please sign up.

Popular Answered Questions

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Oct 17, 2007 Seddrah marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
a great recommendation from a friend. Seems like it could be life-changing, or possibly a little sad or maybe both. The hand-written inscription in the copy I found used was worth the entire purchase anyway, read it:



I'm sure you know that you've been on my mind a great deal over the last few days. I've struggled for words to capture my own grief at your mom's death, to express my appreciation for yours, and perhaps, to offer some solace by explaining to you how strong an impression
The Waves Playlist

Pop songs, not classical or Jazz.

The characters

Rules: One song each. Gender matching. Must express as many of the key character traits as possible. I must love it.

Bernard: Bob Dylan – To Ramona
Susan: Kate bush - Mrs. Bartolozzi
Rhoda: Throwing Muses – Fear
Neville: Anthony and the Johnsons – Crazy in Love
Jinny: Julia Holter - Gold Dust Woman
Louis: Jeff Buckley - A Satisfied Mind

[Percival: John Cage - 4'33]

The novel

4 rules here - refere

The sun rose. Its rays fell in sharp wedges inside the room. Whatever the light touched became dowered with a fanatical existence. A plate was like a white lake. A knife looked like a dagger of ice. Suddenly my copy of ‘The Waves’ became alive as the clouds on the cover page started floating in resplendent movements and the water of the ocean moved swiftly over the edges of several dog-eared pages carrying along thousands of words written upon them, to a world they rightfully belongs to. Driftin
Violet wells
Mar 01, 2016 Violet wells rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: faves, london
For the unprepared reader the first fifty pages can be as baffling as an unknown code. But once the code is cracked, the whole experiment has a brilliant simplicity.
Imagine this: a biography of you and your five best friends. From early childhood to death. Told not within the usual matrix of bald accountable facts, social landmarks of achievement and failure. But through a linguistic transposition of the ebb and flow, the forging and eroding, of the waves of our inner life. Those secret and uns
Jan 01, 2016 Seemita rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: eavesdroppers to their future selves
Recommended to Seemita by: the solitude found at the corner of my rearranged bookshelf
Hi. || Hi. || Is it you? || Yes, I am. || You look different. || Should I have been same? || Mmm... I don’t know. But you have my color. || In setting auburn, yes. || But it still looks content on your skin; that color – like a sheet of fine, wet porcelain covering a tired, antique statue. || And you look dazed, as if an army of nebulous thoughts have held you captive. || Is it so evident? || Yes. || I met a few people – Bernard, Susan, Louis… || …Jinny, Neville and Rhoda. I know. || Do you reme ...more

I am in a fever.
Awareness is heightened.
Words have purple shadows.
Sentences gleam yellow-green
Paragraphs are lined in reddish gold
Everything shimmers, sharp as waves in sunlight.
The normal is abolished

Voices roll towards me, one upon another,
declaim their truth and roll away again, one upon another,
the arc of each voice different, the rhythm the same:
Bernard, Susan, Louis, Bernard.
Rhoda, Neville, Jinny, Bernard.
Louis, Neville, Susan, Bernard
Susan, Louis, Neville, Bernard,
Bernard, Bernar
Aug 22, 2014 s.penkevich rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Probably my favorite book ever written. The 'waves' become a compound metaphor of sheer brilliance; we are all a harmony in the chorus of life, a part of a whole but each an individual part of beauty equally beautiful in solidarity as the whole. I wish I could write a single sentence as glorious as Woolf.
“No, but I wish to go under; to visit the profound depths; once in a while to exercise my prerogative not always to act, but to explore; to hear vague, ancestral sounds of boughs creaking, of mammoths, to indulge impossible desires to embrace the whole world with the arms of understanding, impossible to those who act.” - Virginia Woolf, The Waves

Virginia Woolf never ceases to amaze me. If someone had told me a couple of years ago that I would actually enjoy books written in the stream-of-consc
Ian GalaDali

"The Waves" is arguably the greatest single work of literary Modernism, superior to Woolf’s own "Mrs Dalloway" and "To the Lighthouse" and potentially to Joyce’s "Ulysses".

The first two of these works are temporally much more limited in scope, the last so stylistically diverse that it can’t be said to have a singular integrity (which is not to criticize it; this criterion is quite the opposite of its design and intent).

"The Waves" extends beyond one occasion and encapsulates ent
Mar 29, 2015 Paul rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bloomsbury
This is a wonderful novel; Woolf herself referred to it as a play-poem. Often when I’m thinking about a review I will read what others have written, do a bit of research about the context or author. In this case, that approach is not really possible because there is a whole industry around Woolf and her novels and people spend academic lifetimes on all this!
Woolf said she was writing to a rhythm and not to a plot and the novel is a series of interludes and episodes revolving around six characte
Jun 17, 2007 Marissa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've read this book several times. The first attempt my mind drifted off half the time because there is no plot (which is perfectly fine). I wandered so much that I had to reread the final chapter but by the time I got to the last two pages I burst into tears. It vouches for the power of a book when the reader can be so moved by the ending after only truly paying attention to the final chapter.
I love what The Waves says about being human, being flawed, the importance of small events, small momen
Stephen P
May 03, 2013 Stephen P rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
We know so little of others. Barely we capture pieces of ourselves which can be cobbled together into what we believe ourselves to be; the unified presence necessary to calculate and cope with with the underside of the unfurling wave of life's chaos.

The book opens upon a group of innocents, small sensitive children at a private school in the country. They take turns, perhaps in a game, naming what is happening around them. Would children speak in the perceptive elevation of poetics? The sentence
For three weeks I have looked at this book on my desk, trying to summon the necessary courage to write up my thoughts. Courage, because whatever I say will be an inadequate, tepid articulation of how The Waves made me feel.
'I was running,' said Jinny, 'after breakfast. I saw leaves moving in a hole in the hedge. I thought "That is a bird on its nest." I parted them and looked; but there was no bird on a nest. The leaves went on moving. I was frightened. I ran past Susan, past Rhoda, and Nevill
What is that quote, that one that says that you cannot read some books, you can only reread them. Here is one. Rampant poetry that you ride, crest in and crest out of the waves of words that flow in such a way that one sentence is one of many, a social construct like the bees and the birds flocking in the sky. Fluidity does little justice to this book. One word does not exist without all the rest, and it is better to float through the sentences rather than tear them down and open into some sembl ...more
João Fernandes
Nov 01, 2015 João Fernandes rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
"How then does light return to the world after the eclipse of the sun? Miraculously. Frailly. In thin stripes. It hangs like a glass cage. It is a hoop to be fractured by a tiny jar. There is a spark there. Next moment a flush of dun. Then a vapour as if earth were breathing in and out, once, twice, for the first time. Then under the dullness someone walks with a green light. Then off twists a white wraith. The woods throb blue and green, and gradually the fields drink in red, gold, brown. Sudd ...more
Feb 21, 2014 Kim rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook

Virginia Woolf referred to this work not as a novel, but as a “playpoem”. It consists of monologues spoken by six characters, three female and three male, who recount their lives from childhood to old age and death. The various stages of the characters’ lives are interspersed with nine brief third person accounts of the seaside at different stages of the day from sunrise to sunset. The work is in effect an extended poem, with the various voices of the characters sometimes separate, sometimes flo
Jan 01, 2015 Edward rated it it was amazing
Introduction, by Jeanette Winterson
Introduction, by Gillian Beer

--The Waves
Rhoda Jinny Susan Louis Neville Bernard - três mulheres três homens - seis crianças seis adolescentes seis adultos seis velhos - seis personagens em agonia, em páginas de uma beleza infinita.

Não sei se é um romance ou um poema. Só sei que tudo tudo é Perfeito!
As personagens,
cuja dor e solidão senti como se fossem minhas;
A estrutura
- cada capítulo divide as várias épocas de vida das personagens, e é iniciado pela descrição da posição do sol e de como a natureza se lhe entrega: desde o nascente/
Aug 09, 2013 Deepthi rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
“And the poem, I think, is only your voice speaking.”

From the very first line, Woolf throws her reader into six different minds; we see what they see, hear what they listen to and feel what they touch or are touched by. These six narrators show us glimpses of their childhood, their surroundings, their fears, their midlife, their loves, their ambitions, their failures, their sacrifices, their old age and lastly, their deaths. Somehow all these glimpses are stained by some sort of sadness; at ti
Mar 24, 2016 Vessey rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I wish to thank my friend Seemita for insisting for me to get to “The Waves” as soon as possible. I am not sorry that I did. I also thank her for her glowing, brilliant review which in itself is a recommendation enough. Thank you, my friend.

I was incredibly moved by all the sweeping intensity and beauty laid at the heart of this novel. It was a tremendous, exceptional experience. It isn’t really a story. It’s more like a lyrical feast. If you want a story and characters, this book isn’t for you.
Mar 19, 2013 Dolors rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Poetry in prose.
Woolf writes without rules, no punctuation, no paragraphs, pure sensations, disarrayed and irrational thoughts, explosion of feelings.
We see life through the eyes of six characters, three men and three women, each one strikingly different from the other but close friends and lovers, from childhood to old age.

Early innocence, pure thoughts, playful games become more and more complicated when the characters grow up. It was devastating to witness how everyday life could break the ch
Oct 20, 2015 Poncho rated it it was amazing
"Things have dropped from me. I have outlived certain desires; I have lost friends, some by death […] others through sheer inability to cross the street. I am not so gifted as at one time seemed likely. Certain things lie beyond my scope. I shall never understand the harder problems of philosophy."

I opened the book, hoping to find a distracting and entertaining novel that could take me into oblivion and make me forget what I've been through lately. It began in a very particular prose — a liter
Thus when I come to shape here at this table between my hands the story of my life and set it before you as a complete thing, I have to recall things gone far, gone deep, sunk into this life or that and become part of it; dreams, too, things surrounding me, and the inmates, those old half-articulate ghosts who keep up their hauntings by day and night; who turn over in their sleep, who utter their confused cries, who put out their phantom fingers and clutch at me as I try to escape—shadows of peo
Jan 05, 2015 Simona rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Virginia Woolf ha parlato al mio cuore, al mio intelletto e al mio spirito per alcuni giorni regalandomi attimi di bellezza, di splendore e di totale beatitudine.
Non è un libro semplice, anzi, direi che è ostico e anche un po' confusionario in alcuni punti, ma la sua profondità e la sua poesia compensano con tutto il resto.
Il lettore segue, attraverso un flusso continuo che ricorda molto Joyce (a cui è stato accostato), i pensieri, le emozioni, la vita dei 6- 7(?) personaggi che lo popolano. Og
Momina Masood
"To read this poem one must have myriad eyes, like one of those lamps that turn on slabs of racing water at midnight in the Atlantic, when perhaps only a spray of seaweed pricks the surface, or suddenly the waves gape and up shoulders a monster. One must put aside antipathies and jealousies and not interrupt. One must have patience and infinite care and let the light sound, whether of spiders’ delicate feet on a leaf or the chuckle of water in some irrelevant drain-pipe, unfold too."

"We come t
Feb 08, 2016 Alex rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who use "thus" in conversation
Shelves: rth-lifetime, 2016
"Why are you furiously taking notes on the subway?" is what no one asked me. "I just started The Waves," is what I would have replied, "and I'm realizing that it's going to be difficult even for Virginia Woolf. I'll have to get on top of it early if I'm going to get it at all."

"Why is it so difficult?" "Have you read Virginia Woolf before?" My imaginary friend has not. "She was a modernist," I'd say. "What she was about was getting into her characters' heads, their thought processes - the experi
This novel is without a doubt a work of art, a masterpiece, one of the best of the 20th century by, quite possibly, the greatest female writer who ever lived. The beauty, the poetry of the written word in this book is beyond description. She must have been so proud when she finished writing this, she had to know it was special. This book has my highest recommendation.
Hard to rate, impossible to review – because I read it in two parts separated by a hiatus, two months during which I did not think of the book, during which she passed out of me; because I was bored and baffled on one page, dumbstruck by visionary lyricism on the next; and because at times the whole concept seemed laughably ridiculous (I know now that Blood Meridian just doesn’t work for some people), though in spite of my titters I found her obsessions with the ego's phrase-making, with identit ...more
Plot, character development and interaction expressed solely through inner monologue. Virginia creates a new style of novel here, too unique to ever be recreated. Thought provoking. Iridescent. Brilliant.
Dec 05, 2015 Amir marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: added
یه انتخاب اشتباه برای این روزهای زندگیم؛ روزهای بیحوصله و پرجنب و جوش. خوندن این کتاب نیاز داره به اینکه قلم و کاغذی کنارت باشه که آروم آروم گرهها رو باز کنی... یه روز برمیگردم بهش
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Classics for Begi...: The Waves by Virginia Woolf 43 68 Aug 20, 2015 04:36PM  
Goodreads Librari...: Help to change publisher 5 19 Mar 12, 2015 03:54PM  
The book you can't finish? 14 177 Nov 11, 2014 07:46AM  
Short & Sweet Treats: The Waves 24 68 Apr 28, 2014 05:09PM  
Chicks On Lit: The Waves - February Group Read 162 82 Feb 23, 2014 08:12AM  
  • Virginia Woolf
  • Virginia Woolf: An Inner Life
  • Nightwood
  • Virginia Woolf: A Biography
  • Fanny Owen
  • In the Shadow of Young Girls in Flower (In Search of Lost Time, #2)
  • Gente Feliz com Lágrimas
  • Balada da Praia dos Cães
  • Ice
  • Near to the Wild Heart
  • Impossible Object
  • Good Morning, Midnight
  • A Costa dos Murmúrios
  • The Garden Party and Other Stories
  • The House in Paris
  • All Passion Spent
(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...

Share This Book

“There was a star riding through clouds one night, & I said to the star, 'Consume me'.” 982 likes
“How much better is silence; the coffee cup, the table. How much better to sit by myself like the solitary sea-bird that opens its wings on the stake. Let me sit here for ever with bare things, this coffee cup, this knife, this fork, things in themselves, myself being myself.” 515 likes
More quotes…