Tuesday, October 30, 2007

A Life of One's Own - Ilana Simons

Title: A Life of One's Own: A guide to better living through the work and wisdom of Virginia Woolf
Author: Ilana Simons
Country: America
Year: 2007
Rating: B+
Pages: 202 pgs

First sentence: Virginia Woolf is an icon with a shaky reputation.

Short Summary: A Life of One's Own tours Virginia Woolf's life and writing, gleaning insights into such topics as friendship, career, love, and knowing yourself.

Is this a challenge book? No, this is a review book I received from the author.

What did I think? I was drawn to this book more for the insight into Virginia Woolf's life rather than the fact that it appears to be marketed as a self-help book. With such chapter headings as Accept Solitude, Take on Challenging Friendships, and Make Use of Time, I wasn't too sure what to expect. What I found was a collection of thoughts that stirred my psychology roots, and a gem of humble insights into Virginia Woolf's life. Humble, because Ilana Simons admits "You should know that in my own book here, for instance, I'm misreading Woolf on a million points, but because she's not here to correct me, and because my misreadings create a Woolf that's almost my double, my love for her feels vaulted and perfect." (p.178) Through no fault of its own, I did not particularly enjoy the parts that catered to applying the self-help tidbits to your own life. However, this is a wonderful book for any Virginia Woolf fan, and incorporates an intriguing blend of psychology and literature.

Completely unrelated to the quality of the book, I have to acknowledge the beautiful cover art. When it arrived in the mail I was delighted by the beauty of the book, something I can not say very often. Penguin books never seem to let me down in terms of aesthetics!

It is also the perfect lead-up to the current book I am reading, my second Virginia Woolf novel, To the Lighthouse.


teabird said...

I hadn't heard of this book - thank you for letting us know about it. Sounds good!

meli said...

weird idea for a book - to emulate someone who kills herself. (ok, so i know that's not all there was to her.) Mrs Dallaway is one of my favourite books.

Lotus Reads said...

It truly does have a beautiful cover, it caught my eye immediately, interesting premise too.

Nyssaneala said...

teabird - I would definitely recommend it!

meli - I had the exact same reaction when I first heard what this book was about, that's what piqued my curiousity about it. Mrs Dalloway is one of my favorites as well.

lotus - It's not often I comment on a book's cover (don't judge a book by it's cover etc etc), but I really like the artwork on this one.