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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Mrs. Dalloway - A Difficult but Satisfying Read
Virginia Woolf's classic novel Mrs. Dalloway is an interesting and challenging read. The plot is simple enough, but the writing is complex and challenges the reader to understand the text in ways that many are not accustomed to. The stream-of-consciousness style is not often used in novels written for today's audiences.
I found myself relying on an online study...
Published on Nov. 30 2005 by Laura Thornton

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Frustrating
Difficult, detailed, descriptive, dense -- an apt description of Virginia Woolf's prose. I've never been so annoyed by the difficulty and pointlessness of a story in my life. I thought Faulkner was difficult to read. At least his stories go somewhere, never mind that figuring out his plotlines is like putting together the pieces of a broken bottle. But even after I...
Published on June 7 2004 by Luis M. Luque


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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Mrs. Dalloway - A Difficult but Satisfying Read, Nov. 30 2005
By 
Laura Thornton (Carleton University) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Mrs Dalloway (Paperback)
Virginia Woolf's classic novel Mrs. Dalloway is an interesting and challenging read. The plot is simple enough, but the writing is complex and challenges the reader to understand the text in ways that many are not accustomed to. The stream-of-consciousness style is not often used in novels written for today's audiences.
I found myself relying on an online study guide to help me interpret what was happening in the story. I often had to reread passages several time, thinking critically about the meanings and then referring to other's interpretations of the work to help me comprehend what was happening. Perhaps this is a byproduct of growing up in the information age, and expecting all the answers to be readily available, without having to work for them.
The various characters in Mrs. Dalloway are relatable and you empathize with them. You want to know more about them and get even more inside their heads. However, due to the style of writing, this is difficult. As you read the novel you loose track of whose thoughts you are currently reading, and what their objective for the day is. There are so many a characters that it is hard to keep track of them all and this is unfortunate, because you want to stay connected with them all. Their lives, while simple, are engaging and leave the reader wanting to be invited to Clarissa Dalloway's party, simply to meet all of them.
I recommend this novel to anyone who is up for a challenging read. It truly is a classic novel that everyone should read. If you are willing to put in the work, the story will reward you. Virginia Woolf was one of the most prolific and influential writers of the 20th century, and Mrs. Dalloway proves why this is true.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Stylish Prose Gaudily Frames a Day-Long Character Study Emphasizing Self Talk, Aug. 10 2010
By 
Donald Mitchell "Jesus Loves You!" (Thanks for Providing My Reviews over 124,000 Helpful Votes Globally) - See all my reviews
(#1 HALL OF FAME)    (TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Mrs. Dalloway (Audio Cassette)
"Wealth makes many friends,
But the poor is separated from his friend." -- Proverbs 19:4 (NKJV)

Think of Mrs. Dalloway as being the anti-Ulysses (the James Joyce's masterpiece). The concepts for the novels are similar, but the styles are polar opposites. I recommend becoming familiar with both works in order to appreciate the different ways that character studies can be developed during a day by relying extensively on thought life. Both are brilliant, but in much different ways.

Mrs. Dalloway is English, delicate, fussy, ornate, and feminine. Ulysses is Irish, crude, unrestrained, common, and masculine.

What stands out the most about Mrs. Dalloway are the many original descriptive sentences and phrases that look as though they went through 200 rewritings to be so polished and complete. Their expressions overwhelm the story at time because the reader is left gasping at a stunning turn of phrase or an idea. In writing, you can sit and admire and forget to read on.

A blessing of listening to the excellent reading by Virginia Leishman is that the brilliant writing is better integrated into the story by forcing you to keep going. I enjoyed the experience. I don't want to discourage you from reading the book first, but I believe you will appreciate the overall craft more if you listen before reading. It's the same advice I provide for William Faulkner's books. There's a beauty in the oral expression that is otherwise lost.

I found the story to feel a little dated. I also found myself not being terribly engaged by Mrs. Dalloway or her husband. That's a pretty big problem to have when listening to or reading a novel. Someone today who wrote historical fiction about this period would do it differently.

Naturally, if I were only rating the marvelous ornate writing, this would be five stars. Most writers can only sit back in awe of such writing. On my best day, I wouldn't be worthy of holding a candle for Virginia Woolf.

Enjoy!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The real world!, May 1 2004
This review is from: Mrs. Dalloway (Paperback)
I feel i must give great credit to Woolf for her work on Mrs Dalloway, although it may be dull as there is no real excitement at any part of the novel however, she really does deal with real people in the real world...reality! Her characters reveal how the world really is for so many..we have so many thoughts but are unable to fully communicate it all. It reminded me very much of Catcher in the Rye as you realise so many people in this world are 'fake'. I think anyone who hasn't been able to appreciate her work at all should really wake up!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Frustrating, June 7 2004
By 
Luis M. Luque "luquel" (Crofton, Maryland, USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Mrs. Dalloway (Paperback)
Difficult, detailed, descriptive, dense -- an apt description of Virginia Woolf's prose. I've never been so annoyed by the difficulty and pointlessness of a story in my life. I thought Faulkner was difficult to read. At least his stories go somewhere, never mind that figuring out his plotlines is like putting together the pieces of a broken bottle. But even after I looked up the Cliff's Notes to see what it was that I hadn't picked up. Once I'd learned all I could learn, I still just didn't care.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars makes you awe at woolf's ability to write....excellent, June 27 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: Mrs. Dalloway (Paperback)
So im a 17 year girl who read this for fun in 2 days. the first 30 pages are tough, especially if you arent used to the language. this is my first book by VW. I came away amazed at woolf's ability to write, she is now my favorite female writer ever. One thinks it is only the story of mrs dalloway but it contains lives of others. I love septimus. ALl i can say is that it kicks butt and you should read it.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Almost a story without a story ..., Jan. 10 2007
By 
M. B. Alcat "Curiosity killed the cat, but sa... (Hanoi, Vietnam) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Mrs. Dalloway (Paperback)
"Mrs. Dalloway" is almost a story without a story. At first sight the plot of this book seems almost banal. After all, who wants to know how Clarissa Dalloway spends her day?. Isn't she merely a shallow woman who leds a boring life?.

Of course, we should remember that first impressions are often misleading... and in this case, they certainly are. "Mrs. Dalloway" is nothing less that a ground-breaking novel in which Virginia Woolf pioneers a style that would later be called "stream of consciousness". Thanks to that style the reader can, literally, read the thoughts of the characters without any kind of censorship. Even though that makes the book somewhat unclear at times, it is nonetheless strangely attractive, and compelling.

"Mrs. Dalloway" is the story of a day in Clarissa's life, but it is at the same time the story of the people who know her, or that are somehow connected to her, and the story of her/their dreams and thoughts. Virginia Woolf's goal in this book was ambitious, but she managed to achive it: she allows the reader to look right into the mind of the different characters...

As I previously mentioned, the story of Mrs. Dalloway is at the same time the story of many more, as the story of each of us is also the story of the people we know/love/hate/like/dislike. There are many people who help us to understand Clarissa, thanks to their interactions with her. However, we also see her under a different light thanks to characters that don't know her, or are merely distantly connected to her through one of her many acquaintances. For example, Septimus Warren Smith, an ex-soldier who battles madness, and whose gloomy life provides a stark contrast to the artificial cheerfulness of Clarissa's own life. The two never meet, but it is impossible to try to understand one without the other...

On the whole, I think you will enjoy this book. It is quite original, and gives the reader food for thought. It makes us realize that there is often more to people than what meets the eye. For that, I highly recommend "Mrs. Dalloway" to you.

Belen Alcat
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5.0 out of 5 stars Tough, but worth the effort, Jan. 3 2004
By 
Peggy Vincent "author and reader" (Oakland, CA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Mrs. Dalloway (Paperback)
It's not really fair to judge this book or its author by today's standards, but damn, this is a hard read. I'd read it about 20 years ago and recall struggling with the endless sentences and the rambling explorations of Mrs. Dalloway's interior thoughts, her every little fleeting idea, and the tiny events of the day in her life which this book chronicles.
Then of course when The Hours was published, I rummaged around in the bookshelf, found it, and read it again.
And then the movie came out with that wonderful cast of characters, and, well, I had to read it a third time. And I'll say this: it takes more than a single reading to harvest all the gems from this dense prose. Mrs. Dalloway grew on me with the passage of time and with three careful readings. The studied explorations into past and present, men and women, women and other women, society and the family, love and regret...it's a lot to take on in what is really a pretty small book - and only someone of Woolf's talents and brilliance could have made so much of so little.
Highly recommended, but I'm sorry - you'll probably have to read it more than once to extract every single little diamond chip.
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5.0 out of 5 stars if it were now to die, 'twere now to be most happy, Dec 30 2003
By 
A. Dan "simoril" (israel) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Mrs. Dalloway (Paperback)
like many people i got to this book after seeing and later on reading "the hours". i was pretty indimedated at first, knowing that this is almost a mythologicly difficult book to read, but i have to say that once opening this book, i could barely put it down, it draws you in from the first second and stays with you trough, as it leads you through a soul search and revelation.
this is a story of several charecter throughout one day, which tend to be a day in which all either have importent disocveries or life changes events. it talks about a lot of big issues, such as the world war, classes in england, madness, womanhood and masculinty and how we iteract with those turms, the obligation to oneself Vs. the obligation to societly, old age and growing up and so on. it's amazing to see how all dilemas those are delt with without loosing the tread of the story and the events of the day.
personaly, the most interesting parts for me were the one duelt with spesimus, a young PTSD soldier who's gettingmore and more ill as the day advance, verginia woolf's own experience with deppression and madness deffenetly shows in this book, it made me realate to the book very emotionaly from that angle.
stream of consciusness type of writing's offen very confusing and demanding, and while in other books i couln't quite relate to it, in this book, i think i finelly got the idea behind it. it's a very deep book, one of the greatest books of modern times for sure.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Difficult and Dull, Dec 22 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: Mrs. Dalloway (Paperback)
I suppose there are two types of people in this world: those who appreciate VW's work and those who feel her words were best left within her own mind. I fall into the second category.
I bought and read this book as a precursor to "The Hours." While I would highly recommend reading this book before "The Hours" I will also admit that I found it difficult to get through and dull as old rain water.
I think what bothered me the most was the stream of consciousness writing. It's hard to really follow where VW was taking this story, and well, exactly WHY. Also, there are no chapters, and I personally find that a more difficult read. On top of these things, VW switches from one character's perception to another, leaving the reader wondering just who is doing what and necessitating a re-read to figure out just what happened to the character one was reading about and who this new character is.
The weird thing to me was, it seemed as though one could almost feel/read the disorganization and distortion that was perhaps VW's mental illness.
I know there are many books which have been deemed "classic" by some literary force but which people in modern day can't figure out exactly why. This is one of those books. It's reputation does not live up to its actuality. If you plan on reading "The Hours" this book should precede it. Otherwise, find something more engaging.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant and Original, But Too Cryptic for Many, Nov. 25 2003
By 
This review is from: Mrs. Dalloway (Paperback)
One of Woolf's masterpieces (although To the Lighthouse is far more accessible) this book introduces us to Clarissa Dalloway: dutiful wife, proud mother, hostess extraordinaire, cream of London society, and perhaps ultimately, failure. Using a stream-of-consciousness technique that was pretty radical for its time, Woolf bounces us from the mind of one character to another in sometimes erratic fashion, presenting a multi-faceted view of a single day in post-WWI London.
The focus is on Clarissa and the grand party she is throwing that particular evening, but as her thoughts frequently hearken back to the past, we gradually learn her life's story, even as participants in that story make appearances in "real time". Peter, just back from India, still has strong feelings about her, despite the many years since she broke off their love affair. Sally, the brazen, independent woman who Clarissa so much admired, also puts in an unexpected appearance, and some may wonder if a romantic attachment might have also played a role in their relationship. Clarissa's husband Richard is something of disappointment, neither as successful as his contemporaries or as passionate as the now-unattached Peter. Will this confluence of faces from her past be enough to shake Clarissa out of her despondency?
A major sub-plot revolves around a young WWI veteran named Septimus who is also obsessed by the past. Seeing visions of his late comrade-in-arms, Septimus finds it difficult to deal with the realities of everyday life. His wife, tormented by his inexplicable behavior, wants to get him medical help, but her husband fears these threats to his freedom even more than death. Will her love be enough to save him?
The intersection of these two plots is not overly dramatic, but in light of the facts of Woolf's own demise, the effect of one upon the other should not be overlooked. The novel bears more than a hint of social criticism, blaming the patriarchal culture for Clarissa's lack of choices, but even more than that it is a cry for help from an author who was plagued by her own fears and doubts.
As characters, the women are better realized than the men, and apart from the over-critical Peter and the intellectual light-weight Richard, most of the men are pretty unpleasant. As such, women will probably enjoy this book more than men. Casual readers be forewarned: the stream-of-consciousness technique makes for a very difficult read, particularly in the early pages, before we know who's who. There's not a lot of plot; this book is primarily a character study of some fairly unhappy people. For devotees of great literature, this novel is essential to understanding the author and the untold numbers of lost souls like her. For everyone else, this is a very challenging novel about how we perceive others and ourselves, and not exactly a light entertainment.
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Mrs. Dalloway
Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf (Paperback - Feb. 1 2001)
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