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Fiction > Review: Mrs Dalloway - Virginia Woolf

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Mrs. Dalloway

Mrs Dalloway is a portrait of the fictional events, which take place on one June day in London after the Great War. It follows not only the title character as she prepares for and throws a party, but almost everyone she crosses paths with as she goes about her business, from her family and servants, to old acquaintances and shell-shocked soldiers.

In the history of the modern novel, Mrs Dalloway was revolutionary in the way it dug down into its characters psychology and helped build the framework for fiction, as we know it today. I wish I could give it a higher rating but in all good conscience I can’t because, although it’s extremely clever, I didn’t really enjoy it.
It may be sacrilege to admit but I found Mrs Dalloway extremely hard work. At times I completely lost interest and had to force myself to carry on reading. It took me over a week to finish it, which is a long time by my usual standards, especially when it’s not a particularly long book.

Perhaps I am too impatient but I didn’t always want to know what the shopkeeper or the girl walking through the park was thinking, I wanted to get back to the main characters and continue learning about them. I literally found my mind wandering off at points, thinking about what to do for dinner or whether I had put the cat out, which I suppose was fairly apt considering that the artistic expression of that mental trait was the thing allowing those thoughts to break through.

I also think I would have found the going a little easier if the overall tone wasn’t so bleak, though I guess that is understandable, given the fact that the First World War had only ended a few years before. There were the occasional moments of optimism or tenderness shown in Mrs Dalloway but on the whole it felt like a study of how hypocritical, shallow and disconnected people are.

All that being said, it is a work of genius. The language is beautiful and poetic in the way it manages to paint a detailed picture of its settings as well as less tangible concepts, like thoughts and feelings. It weaves a complex tapestry of human nature that is so painstaking it has to be admired and I am pleased that I did persevere with it to the end, even if I won’t be reading it again.

message 2: by Eustacia (new)

Eustacia Tan | 6 comments I agree with you! I was quite impatient when reading the book at first, because I wasn't interested in what I thought of as the "minor" characters. Happily though, about half way through the book, I suddenly felt the beauty of the prose and from then on, it was much easier to take an interest in the thoughts of the characters.

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