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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 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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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
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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
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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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4.0 out of 5 stars A Literary Masterpiece, Oct. 16 2003
By 
Jason C. Garza "Jason C. Garza" (Moline, IL) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Mrs. Dalloway (Paperback)
I read this book several years ago on a whim. Now, a junior in college, I've just finished reading it for a Virginia Woolf seminar course. It's much better the second time around; the deft characterization and swiftly moving prose transport one into the different mindsets presented throughout. This is almost "Ulysses" light; Woolf's stream-of-consciousness in a day is much more palatable than Joyce's monstrosity. Which is not to say that "Mrs. Dalloway" is simplistic; it is one of the more challenging--and worthwhile--novels I've read in some time.
Woolf's use of Septimus as her alter ego is a very bold literary move; most would assume that Clarissa is, in fact, a representation of Woolf. Instead, it is the shellshocked, suicidal, conflicted Septimus, a victim of World War I, who spends a good portion of his page time seeing his dead friend Evans. Septimus shoulders the blame for Evans' death, and Septimus imagines that he is on trial, oftentimes muttering about his "crime" and "guilt." His only escape is suicide. He is the only character whom Clarissa does not meet; this furthers the story and will perhaps muddle the novel for some.
Clarissa herself goes through her day in the life preparing for a party, running into old friends and remembering old ghosts. The fact that she is an unhappy housewife questioning her choices makes the novel and the ultimate resolution all that more emotional and impactful.
This is one of the most overlooked books in America today; it is a work of genius from an author whose talent is terribly underrated. This is the American, feminine, and more realistic "Ulysses;" a treasure that has gone unnoticed for too long. This is literature, but it is enjoyable literature, not merely for high school seniors forced to endure another "dusty classic," but for anyone who wishes to read a true classic worthy of that honorific.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Buy this book!, Sept. 4 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: Mrs. Dalloway (Paperback)
As soon as I finished MRS. DALLOWAY the first time, I picked it back up and read it straight through again because I couldn't believe how good it was: how funny at times, how tragic at others, how vividly and sharply the characters are drawn. All of the figures in the book "revolve" around Mrs. Clarissa Dalloway; they are, in some way, connected to her.
Septimus Smith, for example, is encountered "by accident" by Clarissa, and he becomes the book's tragic, highly emotional center, just as she is the novel's still, unemotional center. He is a veteran--and victim--of WWI, which has left him shell-shocked. He retreats into himself due to his increasing madness, just as Mrs. Dalloway has retreated into herself by keeping her emotional attachments almost non-existent due to childhood experiences.
Although very little "happens" in the book, except to Septimus, this is a very moving work of literary art. The "action" is kept intriguing because it gives us insight into the minds and emotional lives of people. We come to know so much about why the characters are the way they are that we cannot help but sympathize with and come to appreciate them. Along with this book I recommend another recent Amazon purchase, THE LOSERS' CLUB by Richard Perez
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Mrs. Dalloway
Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf (Paperback - Feb. 1 2001)
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