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Archive: Other Books > Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf - 4 stars

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Joy D | 3097 comments Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf - 4 stars

Modern classic published in 1925, Mrs. Dalloway provides a “day in the life” of Clarissa Dalloway, a London socialite, in June, 1923, as she prepares to host a party later that evening. Her charismatic former suitor, Peter, now in his fifties, has returned from five years in India. Decades ago, she turned down Peter’s proposal and married Richard Dalloway, a staid member of Parliament. The reader is privy to the thoughts and memories of Clarissa, her friends and acquaintances, and Septimus Warren Smith, a veteran of the Great War. Septimus is suffering from what they called “shell shock” at the time, and we would now call “post-traumatic stress disorder.”

The stream-of-consciousness writing style took me a while to get used to, but once I did, I found the story intriguing. While the book covers only a single day, it examines the ageless themes of time, choices, and death. Big Ben chimes regularly throughout, reminding the reader of the passage of time. Clarissa and Peter wonder what their lives would be like if they had married. Clarissa and Septimus are preoccupied by thoughts of death. This novel contains commentary on the British social system and the treatment of mental illness, embedded in the various interactions among the characters. It packs a lot into 200 pages.

It won’t be for everyone. The writing is quaint, and I daresay it contains more semi-colons than any book I’ve read. It is a character study, so there is not much action and very little plot. The bulk of the narrative is spent in the heads of the characters, so it meanders and digresses as thoughts tend to do. Recommended to those who enjoy reading the classics or anyone that wants a glimpse into London’s society of the 1920’s, as seen through the eyes of a lyrical writer of the time.

Link to My GR Review


Idit | 1028 comments Great review Joy!
I liked this book very much, and even more I liked To the Lighthouse - I think because it’s focus on family, parenting and children (among other things) - themes that interest me and I relate to

Have you read The Hours? It’s connected to Mrs Dallaway and I think worth reading when it’s still fresh. I read it many years ago and a long time before I read Mrs Dalaway so I missed on the connections


Joy D | 3097 comments I have not read it but it's on my TBR. I will see about finding it. Thanks for the suggestion!


message 4: by Nikki (new)

Nikki | 661 comments Idit wrote: "Great review Joy!
I liked this book very much, and even more I liked To the Lighthouse - I think because it’s focus on family, parenting and children (among other things) - themes that interest me ..."


Haha - I jumped in here to mention The Hours - you got there before me. As well as being brilliant in its own right, I felt like I appreciated Mrs Dalloway more after reading it... :-)


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Mrs. Dalloway (other topics)

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