Take everything you know about writing or reading a novel and throw it out the window.
So, Clarissa Dalloway, the wife of a politician, starts her day with her party on her mind. The book ends the moment the party ends. That's the book- sort of. It's not like anything I've ever read before.
Virginia Woolf uses the stream-of-consciousness device to look into the lives of a handful of Londoners a few years after the first World War. We start with:
"Mrs Dalloway said she would buy the flowers herself."
From there we meander through the heads of several bystanders into the disturbed mind of Septimus Smith, a former war hero who is descending in madness. His Italian wife, Rezia, meets with two inept doctors, who believe Septimus needs to snap out of his depression. At the same time Peter, an old boyfriend of Clarissa's, comes to town, stirring up feelings of discontent within her. What would it have been like to have married Peter?
At times, I felt like a bee buzzing in and out of everyone's heads. I never knew where I was until I was a couple of sentences into the character's 'narrative'. Woolf made me work like a dog. I've never had to work this hard at reading before. I'm sure I read one section five times before I realized a character was thinking about a homeless lady and not a fountain. Or was it a fountain and not a woman? Hmm.
This book was only 140 pages but it took a long time for me to finish. Mostly because of all the re-reading. Still, it was interesting. The theme of mortality, time getting away from us, gave me a lot to think about. Clarissa is a woman who is more than she seems. To most of the characters, she is a frivolous woman who likes to plan parties to impress people. Clarissa, however, is tired of trying so hard. It all seems so pointless since we're all going to die.
At some point, I will read Mrs Dalloway again. I'm sure I missed...a lot! I think if you want to exercise your brain, put away your Sudukos, grab some Redbull and Mrs Dalloway.
Maree @ Just Add Books