Ben's Reviews > Mrs. Dalloway

Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
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's review
Apr 04, 2010

really liked it
bookshelves: families, good-fiction, read-in-2010, romantic-love-and-hate, to-read-again


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Comments (showing 1-22 of 22) (22 new)

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Kelly Oooh, excited for your review!

message 2: by Ben (last edited Apr 05, 2010 03:15AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Ben Not planning on it; it's very unlikely. No use after those put forth by you, Elizabeth, and Bram. : ) But I may open up a discussion in our new VW group.

Kelly Group discussion would be great! By all means, let's get the VW party started before May- Strike while the teakettle's hot! (Anvil didn't seem an appopriate VW expression.)

message 4: by JSou (new)

JSou Which do you think would be best to start with? This or To the Lighthouse? I own this one, but haven't gotten a copy of TTL yet.

message 5: by Ben (last edited Apr 13, 2010 06:13AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Ben I think To the Lighthouse, while not an easy read (I doubt that Woolf ever is), would be a less difficult introduction. It's a bit smoother, too. Nonetheless, if you have this, and the timing for reading her is right, and you haven't yet picked up To the Lighthouse, don't spare any time and start this.

message 6: by Ben (last edited Apr 18, 2010 02:47PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Ben Ohhhh, Kelly.. I feel I should write a review; Woolf is just so amazing... I want share my love for her with everyone.

Kelly I second that motion! Doooooo iiiitt! *peer pressures*!

message 8: by Ben (last edited Apr 19, 2010 06:41AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Ben I thought somebody may ask that. My families shelf is huge; if something's on one of my shelfs, it doesn't mean that the shelf's subject was a major part of the book; and I don't believe that family life was a major message here. The family aspect was there: that is all.

Also, one could argue that her non-marriage to Peter was a major part of the novel and a "would be" marriage is a "would be family" so to speak...

Bram Wait, what's this about a VW group? I want in!

message 10: by Bram (new) - rated it 5 stars

Bram Ah, oops. I'm so out of the GR loop right now. :)

Kelly Ah, oops. I'm so out of the GR loop right now. :)

Dude, you so are. Elizabeth and I have been telegraphing that thing on open broadcast- join us! :)

The battle between the goddess (Mrs D) and the monster (Miss K) for the heart of Elizabeth was interesting

I loved that, too- that battle was one of the keys that unlocked the book for me and made Mrs. D more sympathetic than she might otherwise have been.

message 12: by Ben (last edited Apr 19, 2010 07:46AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Ben I have a type of sympathy for Miss K that I think may be rare. I don't think it's an excuse for her behavior, but I'll say that when someone is homely (trust me, I used to be homely) it can affect them in profound ways, and I think Woolf showed this. Again, not excusing her, but I think it's a sympathy worth considering; I think Woolf was careful to make that an issue; I'm pretty sure she mentioned it more than once.

message 13: by Kelly (last edited Apr 19, 2010 08:10AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kelly I don't think the sympathy is all that rare- Miss K and her circumstances are easy to painfully understand and feel for. I just think the way that VW showed the conclusions the two women reached about their lives/the actions they took about it made for a powerful and revealing contrast (to both characters' detriment and benefit in different ways). This (first) read it happened to make me sympathetic to Mrs. D because it showed me what she was all about, and opened up the wonderful "only connect" aspect of the book I love so much.

But this book seems like one that you can re-read many times from many different characters' points of view, so I'm sure it'll be different for me next time. Such a personal mood/present state of mind sort of book.

message 14: by Ben (last edited Apr 19, 2010 10:18AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Ben HAHA! No, but it took years of putting stuff on my face from the dermatologist. . I still have some scars on my cheeks, although they aren't very noticeable in most shades of light. :P

message 15: by Ben (last edited Apr 19, 2010 10:28AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Ben And what spurred the comment was the calling of Mrs. K a "monster". Now, don't get me wrong, it's possible to feel sympathy for monsters, but I felt a distinction of sorts was called for...

message 16: by Ben (last edited Apr 21, 2010 06:44AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Ben Changed to 4 stars -- didn't stick with me or have the multi-day-lasting impact that my 5 star books have.

message 17: by Bram (new) - rated it 5 stars

Bram I feel the same way, although I can't really put my finger on why this one is 4 to Lighthouse's 5. I think it has to do with the last 25 pages of Dalloway--the party didn't really live up to the rest of the book. Plus you can only experience Woolf for the first time once.

message 18: by Bram (last edited Apr 21, 2010 06:29AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Bram It wasn't so much what was missing as what was included--newly-introduced, irrelevant characters. At that point in the book all I wanted to do was focus on the major players. To the Lighthouse takes a character break earlier in the story (with the gorgeous passage-of-time sequence), but then it focuses in on the main characters more tightly than ever. I really appreciate that structural set-up.

I didn't know about the short stories; it sounds like they could help significantly with this issue.

message 19: by Ben (last edited Apr 21, 2010 06:48AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Ben Thanks for the recommendation, Elizabeth. I'll have to check that out sooner rather than later, while this is still somewhat fresh in my mind.

Bram-- "Plus you can only experience Woolf for the first time once": great point. I wonder now if my reading of Woolf is going to affect my reaction to Proust; make him less impressive, maybe less awe-inspiring.

message 20: by Bram (last edited Apr 21, 2010 06:50AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Bram It's possible, although I think they are different enough that the enjoyment factor becomes synergistic rather than canceling. I was absolutely blown away by Woolf even though I was halfway through Proust at the time.

message 21: by Bram (last edited Apr 21, 2010 06:57AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Bram No, no...I was very happy with the final ending bit (with Clarissa and Peter), but it just felt strange to me that VW introduced all these party-goers right before that moment--true, the intros were short, but it felt like we got either too much info about them or not quite enough. (I only meant 'irrelevant' in the context of the emotional connections running through the book.) It just felt strange. If this were halfway or even two-thirds through the book I don't think it would have felt as odd. Anyway, this didn't bother me nearly as much as I'm probably making it seem.

Jimmy I understand your disappointment with the ending but I loved it. True there are all these new characters, but it gave me the feeling of actually being at a party. There are people I know and there are people I don't know. There's that sense of "where do I stand? who do I talk to?" and you drop in on a bunch of little shallow conversations (very much like a party) and then it focuses in on Peter and Sally, which is perfect. It reminds me a little bit of the way a Fellini scene might work.

As for Miss K, I also feel deep sympathy for her. Her desperation, her bitterness at having to work twice as hard as everyone else and still not get the things she wanted in life. I can really relate to that in certain ways, and also: the fact that that's not the saddest part. The saddest part is that that kind of thinking scars one, makes one bitter to life and to others, so that Miss K is robbed of any kind of pleasantness.

Liberty: what happened to that VW group? The link you posted doesn't work anymore :(

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