I had never read Woolf before, and Mrs. Dalloway was nothing like what I expected. The book follows a day in the life of a well-off Londoner as she prepares for a party she’ll be hosting. The narrative meanders through the perspectives of many other people around town, though, pivoting so deftly in the points of view that I often went back to reread the transitions. Woolf’s prose has the same timeless, contemporary quality as F. Scott Fitzgerald’s — there was something about the 1920s, I guess, that allowed these writers to step out of their own circumstances and tap into something universal.
To be honest, I wished I had read this book in the context of a class. The plot hinged on characters’ recollections of the past and how those memories informed their present actions. World War I, and characters’ previous love affairs, cast a large shadow. For me, the prose was the most rewarding element of this book, and I think the other aspects would have come to life more had I read this book with a broader context than its introduction and a few notes in Wikipedia.
Availability: COSMOS, USMAI, SMCM
Review Submitted by: Michael Dunn
Rating: Highly Recommended