(Review) To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf


Publisher and Publication Date: Harcourt. 2005.
Genre: Fiction. Women and literature. Classic literature.
Pages: 312.
Source: Library eBook copy.
Audience: Readers who are willing to try a Virginia Woolf story. Readers of women and literature.
Rating: Very good.

Amazon link

Biography at Britannica/This includes a video discussion about her writings. 
Not a person just randomly speaking at a podium. I found it to be beneficial and interesting.


Adeline Virginia Woolf. 1882-1941

Have you read books written by Virginia Woolf? This is the first book I’ve read.
In the past, I read a person has to be of a certain age (maturity) to appreciate her stories. It’s possible I’m now that certain age and maturity.

In the first chapter, the general editor of the book, Mark Hussey, wrote a short biography about Virginia Woolf. I’ve seen the film, The Hours. So, I am a little knowledgeable about Woolf’s bio. She had hard stuff happen. Death and loss. Abuse and loss. She had a mental health disorder during a time when prescriptions were not available like now. She lived during a time when mental health disorders carried a heavy burden, as far as how people viewed the person who had the condition and treatments for the patient. This is a huge story in itself: Virginia Woolf’s life story.
To the Lighthouse explores men and women’s relationships. For example, wives and husbands. Other relationships are explored like parent and child, neighbors, and friends.
The main group of characters are the Ramsay family. Mr. and Mrs. Ramsay have several children. Another character is Lily Briscoe. She’s younger than Mrs. Ramsay and is unmarried. She’s an artist. The two women are close friends.
The setting is the Isle of Skye.
The time period is just before World War I and after the war.

My Thoughts:
To the Lighthouse is a story that the reader has the ability to know what the characters are thinking and feeling (as far as Woolf allows the reader.) It is strong in this element. The reader doesn’t have to guess. The reader knows the movements of the characters, their words, the thoughts behind their words, and their feelings. On one hand this is beneficial. I don’t have to guess. On the other hand it is exhausting.
Mr. Ramsay is unlikable. He can go live in the lighthouse by himself if it were up to me.
Mrs. Ramsay is a dear wife and mother. Her life is her family. She places her family first. She devotes her time and energy for them. She is a dear friend to Lily. Mrs. Ramsay is a person who wants to do the right thing.
Mr. Ramsay finds it intolerable to try and understand his family. He finds them irrational and a chore.
So, the married couple is a conflict in the story. A conflict about how they respond to one another, how they view their family, other people, and life. The story augments people who have trouble articulating how they feel, and in the expression and outpouring of what is in their hearts.
The beauty in the story is in the choice of words used to piece a scene together. Woolf pairs words that compare nature and humanity. For example, a trait in a person’s character and a field, or spring and a virgin.
Overall I loved the story. I enjoyed Woolf’s writing style because it is unique. It is a thinking story. It is a story that tells me Woolf studied people.


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