Saturday, 22 September 2007

Mrs Dalloway

Ever since seeing and loving the movie, The Hours, I have been wanting to read Mrs Dalloway (which was the inspiration for the novel). So when it came my way as an audio book, I jumped at the chance. I figured that having the book read to me -- interpreted essentially -- would make it less challenging than confronting Virginia Woolf's 'stream of conciousness' style adopted for this book. I rather suspect I was right. The novel was beautifully read by Phyllida Law.

The writing throughout the book is wonderful. It features breathtaking imagery, poignant reflections, sharp observations. The cast of characters are all deliciously flawed, yet endearing, and although one might be intrigued as to how such a odd bunch thrust together in haphazard fashion makes a coherent novel, the strange fact is that they do.

There is very little plot in Mrs Dalloway. It merely rambles along in pursuit of the innermost thoughts of its characters, who obsess about mundane things, reminisce about key events in the past, and contemplate each other with affection and irritation in equal combinations. Past and present intermingle without warning, dealing with themes of feminism, depression and madness. And while at times it might have gone on perhaps a little too long about something seemingly irrelevant, it always returned to the central focus: that of Clarissa Dalloway, giving a party.

I enjoyed it a lot.

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