GREAT MODERN WRITERS: Virginia Woolfe, ‘Mrs Dalloway’

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Genre: Classic Fiction

I’m starting off my book challenge with an old favourite! I read ‘Mrs Dalloway’ in high school and though it had an impact on me with it’s definition of ‘the perfect hostess’ rereading the book has given me greater insight and appreciation for this classic.

To summarise, ‘Mrs Dalloway’ takes place in the space of a single day back in 1923 as Clarissa Dalloway, an upperclass English wife, prepares for a party she is hosting that evening. As the day progresses, we learn more about Clarissa’s past with the visit of an old lover Peter Walsh and we learn about her present as we’re introduced to her husband, the conservative and respectable Richard Dalloway and her adolescent daughter Elizabeth.

This is one of my favourite novellas because of its transformative power. When reading it I can see the clothes, imagine the London streets and envisage myself preparing to host a glamorous dinner party. However, with this comes a dark undercurrent of reality, realised when you read the perspectives of each of the characters.

Mrs. Dalloway is Woolf’s first complete example of what she describes as the “luminous envelope” of consciousness: displaying inside the mind as it plays over the brilliant surface and darker depths of reality.

A fascinating and subtly powerful read.

Have you read Mrs Dalloway?

Love,
Vanessa x

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