Feb 12, 2010

Orlando: A Biography by Virginia Woolf

Orlando: A Biography by Virginia Woolf

I’m afraid that until very recently, my answer to the question “Who’s afraid of Virginia Woolf?” would have been, “Me. Me me me me me. I am.” As much as I love her non-fiction, particularly A Room of One’s Own and The Common Reader, my experience with her fiction was like reaching a mountain I just couldn’t climb, no matter how worthwhile I suspected the view from the top to be. I realise that more than anything, this says something about my confidence as a reader (or rather, my lack thereof), but I mentally filed her under “authors much too clever for me”.

However, I think I gave up too easily. All I’d tried were her short stories, which several Woolf lovers have told me are not the best place to begin. Nor, I’ve also been told, are they necessarily more accessible than her novels, despite their shorter length. Encouraged by the wonderful Woolf in Winter read-alongs, I decided to give Orlando: A Biography a try, and I’m happy to report that this time Woolf’s language didn’t feel like an insurmountable mountain at all; rather, it felt like waves, sweeping me away. It flowed beautifully; it was lavish, playful, and refreshing, and it was a whole lot of fun to read.

Orlando: A Biography is the story of a heroine/hero who is born in the sixteenth century as a man, and whom the biographer follows until 1928, when Orlando has grown only a little older, arguably wiser, and, before I forget to mention it, has turned into a woman. Orlando, then, is an androgynous protagonist, and her story is inevitably one about gender. Most of all, I loved how it implicitly rejected any essentialist theories of what makes a man a man and a woman a woman. Shortly after the transformation scene, we are told that Orlando is essentially still the same. It’s only when she decides to return to her native England, when she enters the ship that will take her home, when she wears the clothes and finds herself cast into a necessarily gendered role, that she begins to change.

I adored this passage, in which Woolf anticipates modern theories of gender performativity:
Vain trifles as they seem, clothes have, they say, more important offices than merely to keep us warm. They change our view of the world and the world's view of us. For example, when Captain Bartolus saw Orlando's skirt, he had an awning stretched for her immediately, pressed her to take another slice of beef, and invited her to go ashore with him in the long-boat. These compliments would certainly not have been paid her had her skirts, instead of flowing, been cut tight to her legs in the fashion of breeches. And when we are paid compliments, it behoves us to make some return. Orlando curtseyed; she complied; she flattered the good man's humours as she would not have done had his neat breeches been a woman's skirts, and his braided coat a woman's satin bodice. Thus, there is much to support the view that it is clothes that wear us and not we them; we may make them take the mould of arm or breast, but they mould our hearts, our brains, our tongues to their liking. So, having now worn skirts for a considerable time, a certain change was visible in Orlando, which is to be found if the reader will look above, even in her face. If we compare the picture of Orlando as a man with that of Orlando as a woman we shall see that though both are undoubtedly one and the same person, there are certain changes. The man has his hand free to seize his sword, the woman must use hers to keep the satins from slipping from her shoulders. The man looks the world full in the face, as if it were made for his uses and fashioned to his liking. The woman takes a sidelong glance at it, full of subtlety, even of suspicion. Had they both worn the same clothes, it is possible that their outlook might have been the same.
But in addition to gender, Orlando is also about disregarding rules, be they the rules of social interactions, of fashion, or of propriety. Yet at the same time, it’s also about accepting them, and making the most of the limits that are imposed on one’s life—as we see when the nineteenth-century begins and Orlando suddenly itches for a ring on her finger. Her sudden desire for marriage is more about continuing a quietly subversive existence than about conforming. As a single woman, she would not be allowed to keep her property. Her match allows her to escape scrutiny, but also continue to have a room of her own. The criticism of the social system that corners her is implicit – as the biographer tells us, she was crushed by the “spirit of the times.” Still, Orlando secures a chance to continue to live as she wishes, and, most importantly, to write.

And speaking of writing, Orlando is also about the role of art, about history, about literary fashions, about the passing of time. There are moments of wonderful satire, such as when Greene the poet repeats the exact same speech about the unrepeatable literary glories of the past, only centuries apart, and the second time about the exact same period he denigrated as he lived through it. Orlando is ironic, daring, and very very funny. The two fantasy elements that support the plot – the sex change and Orlando’s unnaturally long life – give Woolf a chance to play with her themes in a way that would be impossible otherwise. This is a perfect example of why I love fantasy so (and no, I won’t call Orlando “magic realism”) – it opens doors.

The fact that Orlando’s subtitle is “a biography” is certainly meaningful. This novel is (humorously, of course, but significantly all the same) not presented as a novel, but as a true biography. What's interesting is that it’s as much about Orlando as it is about her biographer, the unnamed voice who guides us through her story. We feel closer to this voice than we do to Orlando herself, who we see mostly from the outside. Yet Orlando is not a stranger—we love her because the voice telling us her story loves her. I nearly always distrust biographical approaches to literature, but it’s perhaps worth noting that Orlando has been described as a long love letter from Virginia Woolf to her friend Vitta Sackville-West, on whom Orlando was based and to whom the book is dedicated.

The biographer’s voice does more than get us to love Orlando too: it also ponders, it muses, it delights us, it makes us laugh with its exquisite irony. One of my favourite moments in the book was a scene in which nothing much is supposedly happening. Orlando sits at her desk, writing, and her biographer wonders what to do with us readers for the duration of this dead period. What follows is a series of observations on life versus art, on the inner life and the imagination versus what the majority defines as a “real existence”. They’re delivered with lightness and humour, but they’re also quite serious considerations about different literary schools, for example (one can easily tell where the biographer’s sympathies—and Woolf’s—lie), as well as about philosophies of life. Who is to define what is a “real” existence, after all? Orlando, for all her adventures, finds the most satisfaction in the hours she spends at her desk or in solitary walks.

Orlando is a hugely satisfying novel (pardon, a biography) whose accessibility and luxuriance perhaps disguise the fact that it’s more layered and structurally complex than it seems at first glance. I know it’s a book I’ll be returning to in the future, and one in which I suspect I’ll find more and more each time. Meanwhile, now that I’m cured of my Woolfphobia, it’s time for Mrs Dalloway, I think.

A few more of my favourite passages:
No one missed a boy or girl if they dallied a little on the water after sunset; or raised an eyebrow if gossip had seen them sleeping soundly among the treasure sacks safe in each other's arms. Such indeed was the adventure that befel Orlando, Sukey, and the Earl of Cumberland. The day was hot; their loves had been active; they had fallen asleep among the rubies. Late that night the Earl, whose fortunes were much bound up in the Spanish ventures, came to check the booty alone with a lantern. He flashed the light on a barrel. He started back with an oath. Twined about the cask two spirits lay sleeping. Superstitious by nature, and his conscience laden with many a crime, the Earl took the couple--they were wrapped in a red cloak, and Sukey's bosom was almost as white as the eternal snows of Orlando's poetry--for a phantom sprung from the graves of drowned sailors to upbraid him. He crossed himself. He vowed repentance. The row of alms houses still standing in the Sheen Road is the visible fruit of that moment's panic. Twelve poor old women of the parish today drink tea and tonight bless his Lordship for a roof above their heads; so that illicit love in a treasure ship--but we omit the moral.

So they would draw round the punch-bowl which Orlando made it her business to furnish generously, and many were the fine tales they told and many the amusing observations they made, for it cannot be denied that when women get together--but hist--they are always careful to see that the doors are shut and that not a word of it gets into print. All they desire is--but hist again--is that not a man's step on the stair? All they desire, we were about to say when the gentleman took the very words out of our mouths. Women have no desires, says this gentleman, coming into Nell's parlour; only affectations. Without desires (she has served him and he is gone) their conversation cannot be of the slightest interest to anyone. 'It is well known', says Mr S. W., 'that when they lack the stimulus of the other sex, women can find nothing to say to each other. When they are alone, they do not talk, they scratch.' And since they cannot talk together and scratching cannot continue without interruption and it is well known (Mr T. R. has proved it) 'that women are incapable of any feeling of affection for their own sex and hold each other in the greatest aversion', what can we suppose that women do when they seek out each other's society? As that is not a question that can engage the attention of a sensible man, let us, who enjoy the immunity of all biographers and historians from any sex whatever, pass it over, and merely state that Orlando professed great enjoyment in the society of her own sex, and leave it to the gentlemen to prove, as they are very fond of doing.

Life, it has been agreed by everyone whose opinion is worth consulting, is the only fit subject for novelist or biographer; life, the same authorities have decided, has nothing whatever to do with sitting still in a chair and thinking. Thought and life are as the poles asunder. Therefore--since sitting in a chair and thinking is precisely what Orlando is doing now--there is nothing for it but to recite the calendar, tell one's beads, blow one's nose, stir the fire, look out of the window, until she has done. Orlando sat so still that you could have heard a pin drop. Would, indeed, that a pin had dropped! That would have been life of a kind. Or if a butterfly had fluttered through the window and settled on her chair, one could write about that. Or suppose she had got up and killed a wasp. Then, at once, we could out with our pens and write. For there would be blood shed, if only the blood of a wasp. Where there is blood there is life.
And if killing a wasp is the merest trifle compared with killing a man, still it is a fitter subject for novelist or biographer than this mere wool-gathering; this thinking; this sitting in a chair day in, day out, with a cigarette and a sheet of paper and a pen and an ink pot. If only subjects, we might complain (for our patience is wearing thin), had more consideration for their biographers! What is more irritating than to see one's subject, on whom one has lavished so much time and trouble, slipping out of one's grasp altogether and indulging--witness her sighs and gasps, her flushing, her palings, her eyes now bright as lamps, now haggard as dawns--what is more humiliating than to see all this dumb show of emotion and excitement gone through before our eyes when we know that what causes it--thought and imagination--are of no importance whatsoever?
And this: she’s making fun of Lawrence, who I love, but I couldn’t help but laugh:
Must it then be admitted that Orlando was one of those monsters of iniquity who do not love? She was kind to dogs, faithful to friends, generosity itself to a dozen starving poets, had a passion for poetry. But love--as the male novelists define it--and who, after all, speak with greater authority?--has nothing whatever to do with kindness, fidelity, generosity, or poetry. Love is slipping off one's petticoat and--But we all know what love is. Did Orlando do that? Truth compels us to say no, she did not. If then, the subject of one's biography will neither love nor kill, but will only think and imagine, we may conclude that he or she is no better than a corpse and so leave her.
Don’t forget to visit Frances for more thoughts on Orlando.


  1. I love your discussion of this book - I read this years ago but I think it's time for another look! Woolf is amazing.

  2. I love all the quotes, Ana! I hope things are better for you now. I miss you when you're away.

  3. Have yet to read her books though I'd love to! Great review, as always, Ana!

    Hope everything's well with you. {Hugs}

  4. What a fantastic review! I've been hoping to read Orlando for a while now, but have Mrs Dalloway to try first. Gender debates always fascinate me, as people are so different today. I have always been a bit of a tomboy, but also have a fascination for medieval history, and a fondness for those beautiful long gowns...somewhat conflicted!

  5. I really enjoyed Orlando too. I have yet to get past page 5 in any other VW book though!

  6. I'll have to try this one. I've read To the Lighthouse and wasn't that struck, finding her rambling style not to my taste. I'm willing to keep trying though and the gender issues in this one might suit me better.

  7. I'm saving this one for May when we focus on transgendered issues at the GLBT Reading Challenge. I have several books I want to try to tackle on the subject that month: Orlando, I'm Looking Through You, Middlesex, and Luna come to mind right away. I'm sure there are others, too.

    I'm glad you loved this. I've read several of Woolf's novels and I must say she STILL scares me. Jacob's Room made me depressed and miserable for months, and I didn't understand a word of To the LIghthouse when I read it in 2001. Dalloway is a little better, and The Voyage Out is an easy-to-read book not at all in Woolfian prose. I haven't attempted Orlando or The Waves yet. While I love Ms. Virginia, she is intimidating!

  8. What an insightful post! So glad you enjoyed it as it is a personal favorite of mine.

    Especially liked when you wrote, "Orlando is a hugely satisfying novel (pardon, a biography) whose accessibility and luxuriance perhaps disguise the fact that it’s more layered and structurally complex than it seems at first glance." Yes! There is so much more than even it purports to be. Biography, time, gender, art - all in such a lighthearted romp. Woolf couldn't disappoint even in her "writer's holiday."

  9. The quotes are wonderful - especially about the clothes. Well, also about love. It's so nice to get such a good sampling from a book so one can decide whether or not to take the plunge - especially with Woolf!

  10. The whole blogosphere seems to be leaping joyously on the Woolf train, and every time I think a review has convinced me I get nervous again. I don't know if it's that I'm intimidated, or that I just don't think Woolf's my kind of writer, or some combination of the two. I'm still nervous to read her books! I mean if I don't like them after everyone else loves them so I will feel unclever. :P

  11. I'll have to try this again I think, last time it lost me when Orlando became a woman. I would never ahve picked a Woolf book for the confort read you were looking for, but sometimes the most unlikely things work out, hope you are feeling a little better.

  12. I love the passage you quote about clothes; the first time I read Orlando, that really struck me. I think I was a bit young for it and should reread it soon.

  13. Count me in as one of those afraid of Virginia Woolf, although you've semi-convinced me I need to get past my trepidation and give her work a try. I just have a feeling I'm not smart enough for it.

  14. Great post! I agree with Frances on this line:
    Orlando is a hugely satisfying novel (pardon, a biography) whose accessibility and luxuriance perhaps disguise the fact that it’s more layered and structurally complex than it seems at first glance.

    I see this as not just a trifle, but a demonstration that Woolf can do what she does in a whole other way, that turns out to be really, genuinely fun. I love the kind of joy in books like this.

  15. I loved loved loved your post, because it speaks so much of what I felt about this book! I like how you pointed out that Orlando only felt the confines of gender when she was headed to England and had to wear the clothes befitting a woman, thus throwing her into the typecast of a woman. I love how you viewed this as fantasy, rather than magical realism.. I so agree! I love how you said that the reader feels closer to the biographer than Orlando himself/herself. I also felt the same way. I commented this on one of the posts, that I in fact learned a lot more about Woolf herself even though she never really factored into Orlando's story. Excellent post, Ana! Will you be reading The Waves?

  16. I'm so glad you like Orlando, and I TOTALLY understand being intimidated - this was teh book of hers that made me feel like the two of us could talk to each other, and TTL and Mrs D were MUCH easier after I read it :).

    I though it was interesting that you liked the scene in the Treasure Sacks - I liked it too, and was having a hard time putting my finger on why. At first I thought it was just the simple moral of it - that sex isn't always an evil thing. But, it's more than that, I though it was interesting the way that she integrates them into the ship - it feels like they've become a part of it. The ship being an armada ship, this felt like what a big theme of the novel was to me: the British Empire - by extension any nation or community - is more than it's accomplishments, it's government, etc. Britain was more than India, Shakespeare, and the Industrial Revolution, it was people, and in fact, the people are the only part of it that REALLY mattered. You know? Anyway, I won't take over your comments section - just particularly as being part of a community as a book blogger now (probably the first real 'community' I've felt like a contributing member of) I see this same thing - it's easy to think 'book bloggers' are reviews, and readathons, and whitewashing protests. And I feel like forces outside the community keep telling the community that's what it is, that the power of the community is in the way it affects book sales, and changes publisher's strategies. But honestly, I wouldn't think it was much of a life goal if that's what the community was doing for me, you know?

  17. Having just read my first Woolf I am in no hurry to read another (I loved it I just need some fluff in between) but you almost have me convinced to run out and get this one. You make it sound so great!

  18. Sounds a great read, I haven't tackled a Woolf since uni. Oh, and I love that cover, I love the Vintage editions

  19. Lovely to see you back here. I think Woolf had slipped under my radar since reading Cunningham's The Hours. I wasn't keen on his portrayal of her, but I do hope to read one of her books too.

    I find it amazing that females were not allowed to keep their own property during this period. I have just come across the same thing within Pride and Prejudice, it just seems so ridiculous.

  20. I've tried with Orlando many times - just too clever for me, too, I'm afraid. During my first semester at uni I had to read Mrs Dalloway four times from cover to cover before I even started to understand what our professor was talking about :/ Anyway, I loved Mrs Dalloway in the end. A Room of One's Own was good, too.

    Hope you are fine, Nymeth :)

  21. I tried Orlando once, but couldn't get past page 10 or so. Of course, that was years ago. I think I gave my copy away, though.

  22. I usually list Virginia Woolf with my favourite authors of all time but if I think of it, I haven't read anything by her since my early 20s.I loved To the Lighthouse passionately at 17, but I couldn't tell you exactly why, It's been too long. And I never read Orlando.
    I know I was stunned by the beauty of her writing. I think they only other writer who ever struck me that much was Toni Morrison.
    So yeah, the point is, I need to re-read Woolf one of these days, and maybe even read Orlando! sounds amazing, but also demanding, in a way that I'm not prepared for yet. Maybe in the summer?

  23. Your post sheds much meaning on a book, no, I should say author, I've found quite challenging. (Who's afraid of Virginia Woolf? Maybe I should be!) I feel a bit dismayed at the accolades she's received; I can't quite understand the adoration, personally. I appreciate that she was one of the first to write outside of the box, with a stream of consciousness writing style, and that she was bold enought to address such issues as gender. I appreciate her turn of the phrase. But, I liked Mrs. Dalloway and To The Lighthouse much more than Orlando, which frankly, annoyed me. I would have preferred her to address feminism in a volume which didn't include magical realism, fantasy, extreme exaggeration, whatever one wants to call it. I wonder why she chose satire for its serious theme...

  24. Thanks for reminding me of that beautiful passage about how clothes mould us and our public presentation; it never ceases to inspire me. Thanks for the great post, in general, actually! I'm glad you're on your way to conquering your Woolfphobia - she's a favorite of mine. :-)

  25. I had to read To The Lighthouse my senior year. I thought I would hate it, but actually loved it :-)

    I think I own a copy of Orlando somewheres, maybe it's time to brush it off, as I do love a good gender subverting read every now and then.

    Love how you talk about how Orlando basically rejects gender theories of the time, this sort of thing is fascinating to me (I'm a burgeoning feminist -- just began studying it last year), so yeah, completely intriguing.

    I do hope you pick up To The Lighthouse!

  26. I somehow always think how to review a book like you do. God, you put so much thought into this process... and I really feel my reviews lacking this very thought process.
    It is a delight to read your LONG reviews :) :)

    Now, I really thought this was Woolf's biography that you were reading. I have never read anything by Woolf, and as you might see I am just beginning to read classics! But this one appeals to me. I know I can't take the so called "heavy" stuff!

    I really like the concept of a biographer's voice telling me about another person. I like what you wrote about the biographer and him trying fill the spaces when nothing is happening in the scenes... ingenious, I think!

    Great review. Added this to my wishlist :)
    Thank You

  27. Yay! I knew this would win you over! :D

  28. I loved your discussion of this book -- thought provoking!

  29. Another excellent review, Nymeth! Once again, you have pointed out things that I missed (that's the fun of these readalongs), but I love the jab at Lawrence--there's something also about summoning the gardener--and I am glad that you enjoyed this one. Orlando isn't my favorite of Woolf's novels, but it is fun.

  30. I was supposed to read this, but did not. I am such a slacker this year!

  31. I love the passages you quoted. Unfortunately, I'm in the situation you were in previously, I'm too scared of climbing the mountain that is Woolf. I read these wonderful reviews on blogs and then I keep telling myself to give Woolf a try, but I remember a few botched up efforts a couple of years back. Guess it's not the time for me to read Woolf, but I'll probably come back to her a couple of years later.

  32. I loooooooooved Orlando. The movie version with Tilda Swinton is also sort of fun to watch.

  33. I haven't read this book, but with Woolf In Winter going on, I feel as though I should be adding all the Woolfs being read on the TBR straightaway.

    Glad you got on with this much better - the passages quoted were lovely.

  34. Glad you enjoyed this one, I have read any Woolf yet, but will someday!

  35. I am also afraid of Virginia Woolf. *hides*

  36. Marieke: She is! I'm glad I've tried her at last.

    Alice, thank you so much! I've missed everyone as well.

    Melody: *hugs* doing a little better, thank you :)

    Mariel: I think this gave me the courage I needed to finally try Mrs Dalloway...I'll do it soon!

    Lenore: I wonder if that'll happen to me :P

    Cath: Stream of consciousness doesn't always work for me, so I know what you mean. Orlando is very readable, though!

    Amanda: I'm saving Luna for May as well! And yes, she definitely IS intimidating.

    Frances: Yes! The playfulness of it doesn't detract from the seriousness and richness at all.

    Jill: I think you definitely should take the plunge!

    Jenny: lol, I know what you mean...I was so afraid I wouldn't get it and feel stupid (as I always do with Joyce..) But we need to have believe that it's a matter of taste and not of cleverness :P

    Jodie: I really wanted to finish it for the discussion, and it ended up being the right book at the right time. The humour did me good!

    Jeanne: I'll be sure to reread it in a few years as well.

    Kathy: I think you are! As I was telling Jenny, we need to remind ourselves that taste is taste :P

    Nicole: Yes! I love it too :)

    Claire: I see we're on the same page here! I feel that the term "magic realism" is often used because people find "fantasy" to be inapplicable to Great Literature, and you know my stance on that :P And yes, I also felt that I was learning a lot about Woolf herself, and how she felt about so many things. I really want to join you for The Waves, but at the same time I want Mrs Dalloway to be my next...we'll see! Even if I don't join in, I'll follow the discussion for sure :)

    Jason: This was the book of hers that made me feel like the two of us could talk to each other, and TTL and Mrs D were MUCH easier after I read it :). I'm really hoping the same will happen with me. I almost feel like we're friends not that we've laughed together. I'm nowhere near as scared of her anymore. Orlando is a great ice-breaker! Also, I know what you mean about a community being its people, and that being the part of it that truly matters, but I have to confess I missed that aspect of the book re: Britain altogether. I must pay more attention next time! Because yes, there will be a next time :P

    Zee: This is fun! Truly, it is :)

    Katrina: Isn't it gorgeous? Vintage Classics are the best.

    Vivienne: It's really upsetting, isn't it? Property laws also played a major role in the book I'm reviewing tomorrow, Uncle Silas by Sheridan Le Fanu.

  37. Alessandra: That's how I fared with her short stories....fingers crossed that I have more luck now! And thank you - I'm doing a little better. Grief is something only time heals, but meanwhile, life goes on...

    Carol: Aw, sorry to hear it!

    Valentina: I think you'll love Orlando! But yes, she does demand your full attention, so it's important to pick the right time.

    Bellezza: I can see why satire doesn't work for everyone, but (I am a Terry Pratchett fan, after all!) I've always been a fan of it. I think it can be an effective way to deal with serious topics, though there's always the risk it won't be taken seriously exactly because it's humorous. You know, I think I'll like Mrs Dalloway and To The Lighthouse more as well - but this gave me courage to finally tackle them.

    Emily, thank you (and Frances, Claire and Sarah) for the encouragement :)

    April: I absolutely will, probably before long! And yay for you being a burgeoning feminist - there's so much to read and discover :D

    Veens, you are too kind! Sometimes I worry that I just go on for ever, so it's nice to know someone doesn't mind my posts being long :P

    Eva, thank you for having faith that I'd get it!

    Stephanie, thank you!

    ds: I love how everyone responded to different aspects of the book - that's definitely what makes these things so fun :)

    Kailana: lol, I know what you mean. Speaking of which, must read L'Engle!

    Hazra: I needed to wait for the time to be right as well, so I completely understand.

    Daphne: I've actually seen that, but so long ago that I didn't remember much of the story. I remember Tilda Swinton being great in it, though.

    anothercookiecrumbles: I really fell for her writing this time around :)

    Naida, I hope you enjoy her work when you do! And I hope *I* have luck with her others as well :P

    heidenkind: Aren't we all ;) But seriously, this is a GREAT place to start.

  38. I read Mrs. Dalloway last year and I must admit, I am NOT a fan. That book was less than 200 pages and took me a month to finish. I've said this before on other discussions of Virginia Woolf, but I just feel like there is such a lack of focus to her novels but it's buried under a facade of flowery language. I end up feeling so completely disconnected. Of course, I've only read the one, but I think that is enough for me.

  39. Veronica, that's how her short stories made me feel when I tried them some years ago, but not Orlando. We'll see how I get on with her other novels!

  40. I picked up this book a few years ago, but I'm afraid I didn't get very far. Even though I was enjoying the story, I couldn't get over the fact that it was Wolfe and had such a surge of intimidation that I stopped reading. I am totally aware that this was an extreme prejudice and that it was probably undeserved, but your review gives me a new vigor towards this book. I still have my old copy and will be trying again. Thanks for the encouragement!!

  41. Although I didn't enjoy Orlando at all (didn't connect with the humor + Woolf's intermittent racism/classism really nagged at me), Nymeth, I have to admit that you do a really nice job here of selling what the novel does have to offer. For me, the ideas were there but the storytelling was lacking. While I'm cautiously looking forward to The Waves, so far Mrs. Dalloway has been my favorite Woolf in Winter title. In any event, thanks for a very well-crafted post full of lots of enthusiasm--I enjoyed reading it!

  42. Zibilee, I hope you have better luck with it this time! I completely get the intimidation.

    Richard: Thank you! I enjoyed your post too - think the points you made were all valid and important ones. I'm reading Mrs Dalloway next and keeping my fingers crossed that I manage to get on with it.

  43. This one is my favorite of hers (which probably wouldn't surprise you). Read it years ago, but I remember dying laughing at the scene with, what was it, a fly and sugar cubes? Glad you enjoyed it!


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