Well, honestly Virginia Woolf just doesn't do it for me. I have read all of her writing (of which we are aware) and read every writing I could get my hands on about her life, writing style, and historical relations to her writing and I still couldn't get into her. The only exception would be Orlando and that was still not the best.
To the Lighthouse has a lot to offer in its colorful language and descriptions of the landscape, but I felt lost in the characters and goingsons of the novel. It was hard to get into the plot. It wouldn't be on the top of my list for reading.
As an English teacher, I felt I should read this one, but I honestly found Woolf's use of language so convoluted and complex that I couldn't make it past the first couple of chapters. It's a really tough read, and would probably be worth the effort, but I cannot honestly say so from personal experience. Good luck!
A classic, surrealist novel.
Why Youre Reading It:
- You enjoy Virginia Woolf, or you have always wanted to read one of her books.
- Stream of consciousness writing makes you happy.
- You like an intelligent character study.
What I Thought:
To the Lighthouse is a small but mighty book. It is to be read slowly and carefully no speed reading will do here. Virginia Woolf is masterful at studying characters in this novel, one said to be closely autobiographical. It follows the lives of the Ramsey family and those who interact with them at their summer house off the coast of Scotland.
Ive never read a book that more fully rides on my ability to feel rather than understand. You must be willing to give up the cerebral control that readers try so hard to maintain while reading and just go with the flow literally, the flow. Woolfs writing was accurately described as being like water (or waves) by readers who read this book along with me. One reader even remarked that reading Woolf was like getting a blanket thrown over your head while someone spins you around and around. So true. But, we like it anyway. Why? Because if you can just give yourself up to her writing you will find that every few sentences you want to declare, Yes! Rightly so, Virginia, you have captured humanness precisely!
You will notice that her prose feels a lot like your own thoughts, before you are able to slow them down so that they can be articulated to come out of your mouth as words. There can be no rushing, because you will miss the parts that make sense - absolutely this is a rule. No rushing.
If I had to summarize this book into how it made me feel (because, I really dont know how else to summarize this book), I would say that it is a tremendous achievement in getting a reader to feel the great contrast between the vitality of life and the loneliness of emptiness. Like some of her most remarkable characters, her prose is not meant to be captured, but rather to be experienced. Try too hard, and you will miss the point entirely (maybe like life itself?).
And if you have no idea what I just said because it was a bit abstract, just wait until you read this book. I dare you.
The premise of the book is so simple, yet the brilliant author is able to contrive a tangled web of emotions, hopes, and fears all within the context of a couple of days. Very well written and a good introduction to Virginia Woolf.