A Difficult, Rewarding Read by Andrew Rayment

by capreviewroom

“Mrs. Dalloway”, written by Virginia Woolf, is a novel set in a post World War I London that follows three central characters over the course of a single day, beginning with Clarissa Dalloway going out to by flowers for her party and the novel ending at the party later that night. Using a stream-of-consciousness narrative, Woolf takes readers through an extremely in-depth analysis of these characters’ pasts, presents, and futures without ever deviating away from the single day leading up to Clarissa’s party.


This book, while a modern classic, is without a doubt a difficult read. The novel is rich with symbolism, difficult narrative, broken grammar, and other literary devices that readers may not be accustomed to.  The book sometimes feels as if it was written to sound like the thoughts running through characters minds as opposed to perfectly crafted sentences. While a novel idea, I found myself getting annoyed at the over abundance of run on sentences and the excessive use of semi-colons. To make the book even tougher, the narrative ebbs back and forth between multiple points in time, sometimes without clear indication for the reader. The lack of chapters or indicated points for the reader to take a break also came as a shock as there never seemed to be an easy place for me to put the novel down, and when I came back to the book the next time, I always felt I was in the middle of a scene and had to re-read multiple pages to get my bearings back.


With all that said, “Mrs Dalloway” is not a bad book, it is just a difficult novel to tackle. The characters all feel very real and by the end of the novel, you will feel like you have known these characters for your whole life. You will care deeply for these characters and want to learn even more about them. The conclusion nicely wraps the novel up, although I do wish there was more plot throughout the novel to make the reading more enjoyable throughout. Readers who enjoy character driven novels or novels that, if they spend a lot of time with, can reward the reader with a narrative they can really sink their teeth into are highly recommended to read “Mrs Dalloway”.  On the other hand, readers wanting a dense, memorable plot will get little out of the novel.


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