Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
A breakthrough in feminist literature, "Mrs. Dalloway" rips apart the prim facade of upper-crust 20th century British high society, revealing a torrent of angst, oppression and malaise buried beneath.
With a scattered, sometimes oppressively urgent style, Virginia Woolf sorts through the conflicting emotions and stream-of-consciousness memories bubbling inside the mind of a housewife who deconstructs her life as she sets up a dinner party. She reminisces over loves pursued and lost, life choices she regrets and the social structure that never gave her a chance to pursue her passions. She stands as a woman broken. bruised and numbed by a lifetime of coersion and compliance.
Annette Bening narrates the Audible version with seething, barely-submerged rage and a sense of festering regret that epitomizes the spirit of Woolf's writing. It's as though the author -- or Clarissa Dalloway herself -- is reciting the bubbling prose from the heart.
"Mrs. Dallaway" is slowed by poetic prose that is often too dense to pick through the first time around, as well as a sense of unnerving tumult that sometimes makes the plot points too heavy to register. But this is exquisite writing, and well worth exploring for anyone intrigued by the passionate, laconic web that Woolf weaves.
Publisher provided review copy.
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