Days in June: A brief look at Mrs. Dalloway

“Did it matter then, she asked herself, walking towards Bond Street, did it matter that she must inevitably cease completely; all this must go on without her; did she resent it; or did it not become consoling to believe that death ended absolutely?”

When Mrs. Dalloway states that she will buy the flowers herself she starts in motion a strange day in Post World War I London. Perhaps not everyone will agree with me when I say that I wasn’t enamored with Virginia Woolf’s writing style or Mrs. Dalloway. Admittedly the story was thought provoking and filled with fantastic quotes, but honestly it was a struggle to get through.

“Mrs. Dalloway” was my first time reading Virginia Woolf and whilst “Orlando” has been sitting on my book shelves for over a year now, there have been far too many other books to read. The novel was my first experience with the stream of consciousness style of narration, and in all of my reading I’ve never come across another book like it. While I can easily read Dickens, Trollope, Austen, and Brontë, Woolf’s prose took longer to adjust to, but I found once you understand the rhythm of the novel it becomes more enjoyable.

The description on the jacket of the book had me expecting a totally different story than the one I ended up reading. Never before have I read a novel in which madness and death clings so closely to its pages.  Where the striking of the hour by the numerous clocks throughout the narrative beats to the tune of another second of your life gone; and the thought of the day expresses deep regret and a longing by the characters for their lives to have turned out differently. In a book that questions the small details that make up our lives, it can also show how resilient people can be. Surviving the war, and while not all characters escaped unscathed like poor Septimus, others move on and prove that a nice day in June is sometimes all that you need.

“In people’s eyes, in the swing, tramp, and trudge; in the bellow and the uproar; the carriages, motor cars, omnibuses, vans, sandwich men shuffling and swinging; brass bands; barrel organs; in the triumph and the jungle and the strange high singing of some aeroplane overhead was what she loved; life; London; this moment of June”  Virginia Woolf

Edited: Since writing this I have now finished A Room of One’s Own.


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