I wanted to like this book. I really did. I loved Mrs. Dalloway, and because of that book, I’ve been wanting to read more of Woolf. I love the idea of her, what I know of her. However, now that I’ve read To the Lighthouse, I wonder which is more Woolfesque. I hope it’s Dalloway. I really do. Unfortunately, I have the sinking suspicion that I loved Dalloway so much because of The Hours by Michael Cunningham, which is by far my favorite book, one I could read over and over and over.
I really don’t have a lot to say about the first half of the book. The only thing I remember about it is the strange alphabet game Mr. Ramsey played. I do not understand what he was doing–maybe it’s just beyond our time period? He obviously knew the alphabet, but why was he struggling so much to get R to fit after Q? He knew it came after Q, so what was the problem? Woolf went on and on about that, but never really explained what he was trying to do. It was even referenced later in the book, in Part II.
Speaking of Part II, that was the only section of the book where I actually felt like I was reading each and every word she wrote. It was the only part that held my attention long enough to grasp the characters. I have extensive notes on that section, quotes and such, which is not the case on any other part of the book.
I think the most important note of all is what I wrote in the very beginning of Part III: “Virginia Woolf takes a really long time to get to her point.” She was rambling on and on about the season changing and I was not exactly sure where she was going yet.
Then, out of nowhere, in parenthesis, she killed off a main character. Then, as if nothing out of the ordinary happened, she went on talking about the weather again. Then later, she does the same thing. Another character, poof, dead. In parenthesis. No explanation.
It was literally like in the first half of the book, we were watching a movie, and then when we got to the middle, we hit the fast forward button, every so often pressing play to see where we were at. The parenthesis were those scenes we stopped at.
Then, at the end of the book, they make the trek to the lighthouse. All of which is the family riding in a boat, hating on their father who is reading the entire time. And Lily, on the shore, watching them, struggling over a painting. At the end, they make it to the lighthouse, and Lily puts a line through her picture. That’s it. Spoiler alert. Big whup. I have to be missing something. I have to be. Virginia Woolf was a master of literature. Right? RIGHT???
It makes me want to read Mrs. Dalloway again. But I’m afraid to, because I’m afraid that it will not be as incredible as I remember it. I think I’ll wait.