Thinking Out Loud: Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf

Virginia Woolf. Up until last week, unread by me. Now I can say I’ve read her, but am I richer for the experience? I buddy read Mrs Dalloway with a friend, which was a good thing because I might not have persevered without the back and forth chat confirming that my reading experience of Mrs Dalloway was not necessarily a negative reflection on my intelligence. Now, I know the style of stream of consciousness is not to everyone’s liking, but I veered from being utterly captivated to not having any idea what I was even reading. The narrative seemed to me to be mostly a red hot mess with shards of brilliance. I went into this novel fully prepared to emerge as a Virginia Woolf fan, so where did I go wrong? Did I start with the wrong novel? Calling all Virginia Woolf fans to enlighten me and recommend further reading. I am fully open to suggestions.

And on the off chance you agree with me, I’d take that too as a means of validation! Also, any other novels written in the same style that you can recommend? I wouldn’t mind experiencing more stream of consciousness writing as a means of exploring if it’s the style I have issues with or just this novel. I honestly can’t remember if I’ve read anything like it before.

Anyone watched The Hours? Is it worth exploring for context on this novel and Virginia Woolf herself?

20 thoughts on “Thinking Out Loud: Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf

  1. Well, you’ve convinced me I’m probably not up to being a Virginia Wolf fan, sorry this one didn’t meet your expectations. I have seen The Hours, many years ago and truthfully I can’t remember anything about it, so there is that lol.

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  2. I did her for my degree. Recommend ‘to the lighthouse’ I’ve just read a book about bits sackville west. Orlando is based on her. Woolf isn’t one for most book groups more one to study at degree level

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  3. I read this just to check Woolf off my bucket list, and I’ll probably never read anything else by her. I also went from being absorbed to confused in this book. But the movie The Hours is really good, and I believe it was the reason I wanted to read some Woolf in the first place. Well, been there, done that, don’t want the t-shirt!

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  4. Well, first of all, “a red hot mess with shards of brilliance” is spot on 😂 That’s exactly how I felt about Virginia Woolf and Mrs Dalloway, too! It’s definitely, definitely not just you. I realise that this isn’t very Feminist(TM) of me, but I actually preferred Ulysses, which I read alongside a very helpful reading guide chapter-by-chapter. Similar approach (stream of consciousness etc) but somehow more accessible – to me, anyway. I also highly recommend The Hours, both the film and the book. I’m not sure it will give you more context for Mrs D exactly, but they’re both excellent in their own right and I think you’d really enjoy them! ❤️

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    • I’ve bought The Hours (the book) and intend on watching it also. Not sure in which order yet, sometimes I like to watch first (I know, I know, but I’m weird like that). I’m so relieved it’s not just me! 😁 I really think that any book you need a literature degree to read and understand is simply way too unaccessible.


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