Virginia Woolf’s novel chronicles a day in the life of Clarissa Dalloway, a politician’s wife …

Review of 'Mrs. Dalloway' on 'Goodreads'

3 stars

I have had this book sitting on my bookshelf since December 2004. I read The Voyage Out in July 2004, according to my old "books I've read" spreadsheet. Please go read that review. It was an awful experience to read/listen to that book. I couldn't finish the print edition and probably got through the audiobook because I had an hour commute each way. The best thing I could say was having gotten through it, I felt like a more literate person for having done so.

Clearly, it took 15 years and the promise of my copy of Mrs. Dalloway to another Bookcrosser via the USA & Canada Wishlist Tag Game 2019 for me to pick it up and read it.

I have really only two poor things to say of it: 1. It took 20% of the book before it caught a stride and was truly readable and engaging. That's a bit too long. 2. (And more importantly.) The racism. I suppose you can shrug off the racism because it was written in 1925 by a white British woman, but I just cannot.

Otherwise, the characters are fully fleshed out and believable. I enjoyed the transitions from one character to the next, often happening as an encounter occurs to switch POV. Knowing what I know about Woolf and with my prior reading experience of her, I was waiting from the outset for the character who commits suicide. I thought it was going to be the titular character, but {spoilers} it was not. I thought that the use of PTSD from war, called shell shock, was not quite well represented, but at least made sense.

The prose of Mrs. Dalloway is different than most books, even ones written in that time. I was reading a recent article on the infatuation today's entertainment has with the well-off, as though it were a new thing. I'd like to introduce that author to this book, written in 1925 that also focuses on the well-off for entertainment. This is not a new infatuation, but one that has been a part of entertainment for a very long time.

Overall, this is a book that should be included in a diverse selection of reading. Too often "literature" is restricted to white men of Western heritage. This book would at least break one of those problems.