Tarah's Reviews > Virginia Woolf

Virginia Woolf by Hermione Lee
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's review
May 06, 2012

it was ok

Ah man, I REALLY wanted to like this book. Hermione Lee is a stellar biographer. Lyrical, interesting, thorough, accurate, and actually FUN to read. Find THAT in another biographer out there (David McCullough, you WISH you were these things).

And her biography of Wharton was fucking riveting. Like at the end of 800 pages I was like "nooo! please give me more!".

The Woolf biography, on the other hand, was a slog. I'm a big Woolf fan: and a number of her novels had a profound effect on me. And I'm genuinely interested in Woolf herself, and I WANTED to read a good biography, rather than the number of shitty ones out there (I'm looking at you Quintin Bell).

But DAMN I could not make myself read all the pages of this book. And there was some salacious info: other authors she hates, women with whom she has affairs, wars that crush nations, etc. But I just couldn't make myself pour through all the minute details page by page. I finally gave up and read the sections I was interested in (Vita Saxville West and WWII) and skipped the rest.

I'm disappointed because I know I've lose good insight into Woolf, but I think what I've learned is that even with the best biographer (and really, Lee is among the best), you have to be REALLY invested in the subject of the biography to make 800 pages worth it.

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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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Edward I agree - it WAS a slog. I admire Virginia Woolf, but her books are enough to satisfy me. Her life, while mildly interesting, just isn't that important to me.

Daizy Thanks for that! I'm 400 pages in and I can't summon the courage to finish this wearisome book.
I'll read the chapters you mention and let it be.

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