Mrs. Dalloway (1925) follows a day in the life of Clarissa Dalloway in post-WW1 London as she prepares for a dinner party later that evening. The narrative is interspersed with sections from other characters.
First of all, my apologies to Ms Woolf. This just wasn’t the novel for me. I adored her later work, To The Lighthouse (1927), so I know Woolf is an intelligent and wondrous writer with the ability to compose breath-taking narratives. Mrs Dalloway is noted for its modernist elements; it interweaves in and out of various characters’ inner monologues as well as moving from past to present. For that reason, it has been celebrated for it’s innovative literary techniques, (I’m just too basic to appreciate it).
I was quite taken by the descriptions of London as the narrative weaved from character to character. It gave a great sense of British and European society at the time of the novel’s publication. The commentary by the characters on their society was interesting to read.
The novel didn’t click with me personally (let’s remember I’m an idiot and Woolf is a genius) because inner monologues have always been troublesome for me. The majority of the novel is written in introspection and the narrative progresses through the use of the characters’ thoughts and their opinions of other characters rather than their interactions. I find this writing style to be quite claustrophobic, especially if there isn’t any action or description to break up the text, and I get bored easily. Exposition-heavy narratives and inner monologues are quite laborious for me, and I usually give up due to frustration. So there wasn’t anything wrong plot-wise, just in it’s execution.
To summarise, Virgina Woolf is a literary treasure and should be celebrated, I’m just not smart enough to appreciate this book. Happy reading!