Title: To the Lighthouse
Author: Virginia Woolf
First sentence: "Yes, of course, if it's fine tomorrow," said Mrs. Ramsey.
Short summary: This novel takes place in three parts taking place at the summer home of an English family, the Ramseys, in the Hebrides. The first part takes place over one afternoon and evening; the second spans ten years in which the home is left unoccupied; and the third part is a morning after the ten years in which some of the original characters return to the Ramsey's summer home.
Is this for a challenge? I decided to substitute this novel for Orlando by Virginia Woolf in the TBR challenge. Both have been on my bookshelf for a very long time. I also read it for the Seconds challenge.
What I thought: Virginia Woolf is not an easy read. But she is a delight. To the Lighthouse is written in a similar stream-of-consciousness style as Mrs Dalloway (reviewed here). However, Mrs Dalloway is mostly all about Clarissa: her relation to others, and others' (servants, family, friends) in relation to her. To the Lighthouse is more a story of the interrelationships amongst a group of people, and delves into the psychology of imagination and emotion from a variety of perspectives (albeit, some of the characters are not very interesting). It is not a novel to be read for its plot. The main focus of the story is on the inner workings of the people we meet. The third section of the novel seems to drift about, and I am left wondering if this is an unintentional weakness, or a hidden purpose that shows how things can fall apart.
It may help to have a broader knowledge of Virginia Woolf's work and career, to begin to capture and understand the larger artistic aims of this novel. As I discovered with Mrs Dalloway, Woolf's novels are best enjoyed at a leisurely pace. It is another book that I hope to come back to again someday.
No, she said, she did not want a pear. Indeed she had been keeping guard over the dish of fruit (without realizing it) jealously, hoping that nobody would touch it. Her eyes had been going in and out among the curves and shadows of the fruit, among the rich purples of the lowland grapes, then over the horny ridge of the shell, putting a yellow against a purple, a curved shape against a round shape, without knowing why she did it, or why, every time she did it, she felt more and more serene; until, oh, what a pity that they should do it--a hand reached out, took a pear, and spoilt the whole thing. (p.163)
Saturday, November 3, 2007
Title: To the Lighthouse