I have been meaning to read Virginia Woolf’s books for years and finally, I read one. Mrs. Dalloway is the first book I read written by Woolf and there is not much to say other than that it is an amazing book.
Mrs. Dalloway is the most well-known novel by Virginia Woolf. The book was published in 1925. This novel details a day in the life of the high-society Clarissa Dalloway, who is the main character in the story. The setting of the story is important; it is set in post-World War I England. There is just one day described in the novel the day Clarissa is making preparations for a party. All the events that take place in the book occur during this one day. I thought this set a nice pace for the novel.
Once the story begins and the plot starts to unfold the secrets about Clarissa’s life that didn’t seem probable at the beginning. It was something I didn’t exactly see coming but it was an interesting surprise. The plot has two interwoven stories; one of Clarissa Dalloway and one of war veteran Septimus Warren Smith. The narration is from a third-person point of view which gave an accurate description of the emotions these characters are experiencing. The narration definitely digs deep into the thoughts and emotions of the characters and has been described really well.
Clarissa and Septimus Warren are two characters who seem unconnected at the start but their stories actually run parallel to each other. The shifts in the narrative from Warren to Clarissa gave me enough time with both characters and in a way helped me to understand them. The story shifts back and forth from the past to the present. This element of time, movement from past to present is used perfectly to hammer home what the characters think about the past while in the present. It is difficult to explain but it is intriguing nevertheless. It made it easier for a reader to empathize with these characters.
The effects of World War I are clearly depicted through the character of Smith who is having a hard time adjusting to civilian life and is broken by his experiences during the war. Mrs. Dalloway, on the other hand, seems to have everything she could want but in reality, is clearly struggling to cope with her emotions. The themes of love, loss, and mental illness are depicted in a unique and powerful way which is somewhat subtle at the time but constantly present at the same time. The end of the novel stays true to the story and in a way seems unresolved. There is no forced happy ending to this novel. I prefer a resolved ending personally but the way the novel unravels it is not that surprising.
I liked the writing; it might be the first time I read a book whose plot takes place over one single day. The pace of the story is good, sometimes it might become too much so it cant be read overnight. The story and writing are so relevant to its themes and makes them relatable. The novel is a must-read.