Mrs. Dalloway

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In this vivid portrait of one day in a woman's life, Clarissa Dalloway is preoccupied with the last-minute details of party preparation while in her mind she is much more than a perfect society hostess. As she readies her house, she is flooded with far-away remembrances. And, met with the realities of the present, Clarissa reexamines the choices she has made, hesitantly looking ahead to growing old. Undeniably triumphant, this is the inspired novelistic outline of human consciousness. 


My review:


“She belonged to a different age, but being so entire, so complete, would always stand up on the horizon, stone-white, eminent, like a lighthouse marking some past stage on this adventurous, long, long voyage, this interminable --- this interminable life.” 
― Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway

Spend the day with Mrs. Dalloway as she prepares to host her party one evening, post WWI in London. Dalloway, aged 52 with a terminal disease is reflecting upon her life in 3rd person, letting free her streaming consciousness about herself, her husband, friends and strangers. 

“Beauty, the world seemed to say. And as if to prove it (scientifically) wherever he looked at the houses, at the railings, at the antelopes stretching over the palings, beauty sprang instantly. To watch a leaf quivering in the rush of air was an exquisite joy. Up in the sky swallows swooping, swerving, flinging themselves in and out, round and round, yet always with perfect control as if elastics held them; and the flies rising and falling; and the sun spotting now this leaf, now that, in mockery, dazzling it with soft gold in pure good temper; and now again some chime (it might be a motor horn) tinkling divinely on the grass stalks—all of this, calm and reasonable as it was, made out of ordinary things as it was, was the truth now; beauty, that was the truth now. Beauty was everywhere.” 
― Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway

Feeling of middle age, with her external beauty fading, she seems reasonable and wise to see all the beautiful things in the world and differentiating from the superficial. Some things are just not worth the fuss anymore, and mindfulness is her way of life now. She seems at peace even with the things that aren’t perfect and her thoughts are very eloquently expressed in this novel. 

“Quiet descended on her, calm, content, as her needle, drawing the silk smoothly to its gentle pause, collected the green folds together and attached them, very lightly, to the belt. So on a summer’s day waves collect, overbalance, and fall; collect and fall; and the whole world seems to be saying “that is all” more and more ponderously, until even the heart in the body which lies in the sun on the beach says too, That is all. Fear no more, says the heart. Fear no more, says the heart, committing its burden to some sea, which sighs collectively for all sorrows, and renews, begins, collects, let’s fall. And the body alone listens to the passing bee; the wave breaking; the dog barking, far away barking and barking.” 
― Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway

Because the entire novel reads like this, it is difficult to pick out single scenarios of what she is thinking about. I would say, if you are interested in beautiful prose and lyrical writing, give this one a try. You will find yourself at times pondering the same things or agree with the way Virginia Woolf was able to capture these internal thoughts into words. 

This was my first Virginia Woolf novel and I listened to it on audio book due to no availability in book format. But I am glad I did that, because the narrator was so amazing at emphasizing certain words that made it even better than me reading it. I found it quite enjoyable and relatable being almost middle age. Not sure if a younger person would agree or appreciate it the same way. It is definitely for the soul and an aged palate.