Review: Mrs Dalloway

Updated: Jun 13, 2020

Virginia Woolf takes you by the hand and walks you through her story one character at a time. Strolling with you through London you accompany Clarissa in her party preparations, before picking up the pace to more of a waltz as you find yourself passing between the party-goers, London's social elite, later on. It is a challenging read, with few page breaks and chapters dividing the prose, yet it is so fluid and seamless I regret it was my bitty commute that broke the magic.

Woolf uses the space to connect seemingly otherwise unconnected characters in a way much representative of life. It is such a concise novel, I'd recommend if you can take it in in one sitting, you'll see the benefits.

In amongst the affluence and celebrative nature of the party, Woolf weaves the darkness of the story of Septimus Warren Smith, a retired war veteran who struggles with his mental health with what we would now recognise as PTSD. Woolf uses Clarissa's character to dismiss the effects of war on mental health, sweeping it under the carpet, reflecting her frustrations with the medical service at the time. 

Seamlessly, Woolf juxtaposes the highs and lows of emotion with the highs and lows of society making for a critical and unsympathetic assessment of society and medical services at the time. 

Writing a novel in the inter-war years, Woolf has confronted issues head on, making her opinions known. I feel like in writing, we all should be doing the same.

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