Title: Mrs. Dalloway
Author: Virginia Woolf
Originally published: 1925
This is a bottom shelf book (or as far away from the bookshelf as possible… that would work too)
I really wanted to like Mrs. Dalloway. I wanted to pick it up and read through its pages with an eager, rapt expression. I wanted to finish it and be like, “Wow I can’t believe there was so much substance in a mere one hundred and sixty pages!”
I really did.
Except we can’t always get we want and I absolutely could not stand this book.
I was about fifty pages into it when I decided to do a little research on why Mrs. Dalloway was written the way it was and if I was severely missing an important aspect of this novel. Apparently it was experimental in nature and Woolf took some liberties with style. I am all for self-expression and breaking the mold when desired but was it entirely necessary to avoid the use of periods and instead use half sentences punctuated by semi colons? Was it necessary to go on for a paragraph using only one sentence during which you listed a bunch of random, unrelated and completely exhausting snippets of thought? Was it, Ms. Woolf?
I also found it lost on me how a novel’s namesake can be absent for much of the plot and whose presence is instead replaced by a plethora of characters that have bit parts with no real substance. I love characters. I love novels that focus on its characters rather than the rooms they reside in. I love human interest. But for God’s sake did we need a one hundred and sixty page, single chapter novel that bounces back and forth between its characters without notice, need, and focus? Did I need to have my normal love for character-driven plots dashed by the complete and utter boredom I experienced while reading this?
In the time it took me to read the quite short Mrs. Dalloway I read two other books. Two other books that I found much more interesting, intelligent, and well-written. It may have added to my frustration to have to come back to a book I found so utterly disappointing after exposing myself to what else is out there.
I assume there are readers out there who will adamantly disagree with me in this instance but I would assume those readers also enjoy a rousing Dickens tale.
I don’t like books that make me feel like I missed a memo because I simply do not understand the absolute incoherence of plot and style within its bindings. I like to be challenged but I don’t like to feel stupid when I give the author the benefit of the doubt and assume it’s me, not them. I have never sighed so many times while reading a book than I did during this one. I have never complained so readily about reading something than I did while reading this one.
I will be elated if I never, ever have to pick this book up again. I look forward to reading something that is written with style and an understanding of plot in the near future.