If there's any author I fear, it could only be Virginia Woolf. I was rather taken aback by how Mrs Dalloway spoke to me - it struck me as a rather gripping and shockingly familar introspection of sanity, of insanity, of life, and the society.
[Not to be confused with The Hours - interpretation of Mrs Dalloway by Michael Cunningham, but set in the 1990s instead. ]
Very few books have this effect on me, and this was one of them. I was quite irritated though with the first thirty pages - it was rather slow and unstructured, and is narrated in a stream of consciousness, as the spirit lead, as upon each whim and thought that crossed the mind, its all rather difficult to follow if you're not familar with it. But I gradually got used to her style, and towards the end I was already sufficiently addicted to it.
But if you're looking for a plot, don't bother - there's none.
This story revolves around the events in a single day as spent by 1) Clarissa Dalloway, an upper-class English woman in the early 20th century, married to a politician, preparing for a party; 2) Septimus Warren Smith - a war vetaran who speaks to his dead friend Evans, and has an obsession with death; 3) Peter Walsh, an ex fiance of Clarissa's, who's back in England to settle a divorce of a Indian lover, wife of a general in India. [For a complete description of the characters, click here]
The lives of these three are linked through external events of life, love, death, and hints of homosexuality. Virginia Woolf records these moments in beautiful, haunting, sacred, and sometimes inexhaustive sentences, using parathesises [sp?] quite liberally at times [which I absolyutely adore! ;D]
I've gotta say though that this is a rather acquired taste - you either like it, or you don't. It gets quite depressing actually, and I got rather upset reading it the first time. But the second time around, my confusion quite cleared - Woolf wasn't just writing about the futility of life, but also of humanity, of how we are all inexplicably linked to each other - this concept, I believe, isn't strange to bloggers ;)
Virginia Woolf now tops my list as one of my favourite authors, even if it requires generous doses of chocolates to top my depleted reserves of endorphins after that! ;) graceshu # 10:59 AM
Friday, July 16, 2004
There are only so many trees in the world, and about 2 tons of paper crossed my desk today.
I've read this book so many times, it's falling apart. That's how much I love it. Rilla of Ingleside is L.M Montgomery's last book in the Anne of Green Gables series. Anne and Gilbert's children are grown up now: Jem, Walter, Nan and Di are in college and Rilla, the youngest, is looking forward to her first adult party at the lighthouse. Pretty innocuous start to a book that may lull you into believing that it's just another one of those "featherweight" books.
You see, the first rumblings of World War I is sweeping across Canada. In Glen St. Mary, people are brushing it off as "an easy war", one that will never start and if it does, be over in a few weeks. Only as the months go by with no ending in sight do the people start to fear for their enlisted boys and "the old grey mother" (England).
What's so enchanting about the book is we get too see how a great war such as WWI affects the mundane, every day life of the Glen folks. Rilla started out like any of us at 15. Parties, friends, beaux (this was 1914) and clothes were her main concerns. We follow her as she gradually wakes up to the fact that this will not be a short war, and that her enlisted brothers and friends may never return. We see her adopt a "war baby", organise a Junior Red Cross and generally grow up against a backdrop of constant worry for loved ones.
It's a sad book, I think, but one with little nuggets of sunshine in every chapter. The ending when it comes will have you wishing for more, just what every good book should do.
About The Reviewer: Edna is a geologist working and living in KL. This bookworm will apparently happily forego sleep and baths for the sake of a good book! ;D graceshu # 11:15 PM