Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf

**Student Review** by Kylie Caligiuri

Genre:  Fiction

Mrs. Dalloway is the tale of day in one woman’s life, as well as accounts from her friends. Clarissa Dalloway, the book’s protagonist, is busy preparing for a party she will host that evening. She is bustling around the house and town, where she contemplates the direction in which her life is heading. She sees Hugh Whitbread, and when she talks to him, Clarissa discovers that his wife’s health is deteriorating. While at home, a man comes to her door; Clarissa is shocked to see Peter Walsh, the man that had proposed to her years ago. When Clarissa turned him down and married another man (Richard Dalloway), Peter had moved to India. There he fell in love with a married woman named Daisy, and he was back in town to arrange her divorce from her husband. Soon after Peter and Clarissa’s encounter, Richard Dalloway returns from having lunch with Lady Bruton (an old woman of high society who doesn’t like Clarissa). He realizes how miserable his life is, and he decides to spend time talking to his wife. While all this is going on, a man named Septimus and his wife Lucrezia are having problems of their own. Septimus, after returning from WWI, has become depressed and suicidal. Lucrezia seeks medical help for him, but no one recognizes the depression. The point of view shifts back to Clarissa. Her party is beginning, and people are starting to arrive. The presence of Peter Walsh as well as others is making the atmosphere of the party tense. News is spread and people are aware that this is not an altogether cheerful event. Everyone seems to be realizing just how unhappy their lives are.

As I was reading this book, it became easier and easier to become a little overwhelmed with all of the characters. The story only narrates one day, but there are many flash-backs and memories that are included. However, I liked the book overall. The plot grew complex as it progressed; everyone was connected in some way; the tenseness that each of the characters felt was apparent. Mrs. Dalloway was an intriguing read, and a little unrealistic for me. It’s strange to read about people in another country in a different time period and try to relate to them. But in some ways, this can be done. There were arguments and friendships; emotions like jealously and sadness were good ways to connect with the reader.

This would be a good book for someone who enjoys a quick read, but with winding plotlines. It was interesting to discover how chain-reactions can continue to affect peoples’ lives years later.


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