Mrs. Dalloway

Mrs. DallowayVirginia Woolf’s brief, exquisite masterpiece reveals the fierce flame often burning within ordinary people living what appear to be very ordinary lives.

Set in London on a single day in the early 1920s and spilling over with beautiful, precise, often startling detail, the novel gives us a stream-of-consciousness perspective (then a revolutionary narrative technique) of the central character, Clarissa Dalloway, an upper-class, middle-aged wife and mother, who attends to the myriad details for a party she is hosting that evening. Woolf also gives us the thoughts and feelings of other characters, especially Septimus Smith, a decorated soldier irreparably broken by the war; and feckless, repressed Peter Walsh, rejected as a suitor by Clarissa when they were young, and recently returned from service in India.

I love Mrs. Dalloway because, with astonishing skill, Woolf gives me compelling glimpses into the lives of others, suggesting that perhaps everyone merits my close attention and compassion.

—Diane

 

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