Monday, 9 September 2013

To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf

Stupidly Simple Synopsis: Family and guests on a holiday by sea. Years pass and some of original characters return to house. 

I have never read anything like this. Ever. It is hard to be drawn in by plot, the events drift along at the change of the tide. I did not wish to read it constantly and obsessively. Yet, it put a spell on me in such a way that the cliched phrase is justified. As I read it, it felt... almost 'delicious'. I wanted to consume the words and let them wash over my hypnotised mind. The language is so beautiful and very visual. Ingrained on my mind is an image of the house. I imagine the flaking paint and sand on bare floorboards and fading rugs and shells. Perhaps reading it on holiday helped!

I could not read Woolf all the time, I think it would strangely alter your reality. Reading this book made me think a lot about myself and what its like in my head compared to others. The seamless slipping from character to character causes you to identify and dislike them almost equally. Internal monologues all seem to be diffused through the filter of Virginia Woolf or an ethereal narrator borrowing from people's thoughts. They are at once their own thoughts, as well as sharing a vague wholeness of one complete person.

There was also an intriguing use of brackets to record deaths. It changed the weight of importance from real, tragic events to the general, continual passage of time. There was one whole chapter that was in brackets (designed to confuse yours truly, who hunted the whole chapter for the second bracket unsuccessfully, before finding it at the end).

Some people think holiday reads should be light books that you can easily dip into without worrying your brain too much. Personally, this could be the perfect holiday book. Not only is it about holidays(!) but it has a dreamlike feel that could go perfectly with lounging on the beach. However, as it is no longer summer, I would urge you to pick it up now anyway!!

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