Korri's Reviews > Mr. Dalloway: A Novella

Mr. Dalloway by Robin Lippincott
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May 12, 15

bookshelves: highbrow-fan-fiction, queer, london, retellings
Read from January 25 to 27, 2012

I suppose one's ability to appreciate this book (and Michael Cunningham's The Hours) is predicated on one's admiration for the distracted circling stream of consciousness prose in Woolf's original work. I happen to adore Mrs. Dalloway, the way the words ripple and reverberate in the minds of Clarissa and her friends. I was geared up to love this queer retelling of Mrs. Dalloway from the perspective of Clarissa's sympathetic husband Richard.

Phrases like 'out the door, out of his house and the inherent interiority of those--or any--walls' (p. 4) tested my generosity of spirit. The prose and the characters felt a bit hollow, a mere echo of the original. Readers don't have to know Mrs. Dalloway to enjoy the story, but without that knowledge some of the characters were left a bit one-dimensional.

Then there was the fact that though the characters weren't entirely effaced, it felt as if the romantic love between Sally Seton and Clarissa and the intense relationship between Elizabeth and Miss Kilman was diminished. I mean, of course the author is free to adapt, interpret, and make the story his own but is it wrong that I felt it somehow weird or problematic that he was appropriating a famous novel featuring intimate romantic relationships between women to tell the story of a gay man? Part of me wished that the author had further explored the stranglehold compulsory heterosexuality had on all members of the Dalloway family.

None of this is to say that I disliked Lippincott's work. I enjoyed the ebb and flow of thoughts and impressions on one momentous day in June, but perhaps, as another reviewer wrote, this book is merely a novelty for admirers of Woolf.
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