Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf

I finished Mrs. Dalloway, a while ago. So I reviewed it, now. Because why not? Off we go.

So Mrs. Dalloway doesn’t really have a plot, it’s more character study than anything, but it is technically about a day in the life of Clarissa Dalloway. She’s planning a party that evening, and she meets some old friends, and she thinks about all these things. And we also follow these other people, and a young soldier who has returned from the war.

So the book is told through a sort of stream-of-consciousness spewing out of words and thoughts. It tells the story of Clarissa Dalloway who is hosting a party, and all her thoughts about the party, and who will come and what will happen. And I really like books that don’t have plot, and who don’t really move anywhere. I don’t know why, they just make me happy.

So Clarissa had a lesbian fling, sort of, when she was younger, but it was in the early 1900s, so clearly she couldn’t continue with it. And the woman she kissed is on her mind leading up to the party, because she meets an old friend who hung out with both her and the other woman, Sarah. And Sarah is also a socialite, so they sort of move in the same circles. And it seems like this thing that they never could act on, is something they think about a lot.

The book sort of jumps from person to person. Clarissa walks down the road, and thinks about her party, and her kid, and her husband, and then she meets Peter, who was her friend when she was younger, and the perspective shifts to Peter. And then Peter walks down the street, notices a young couple, and the perspective changes to the wife, and so on. It was really cool to see the story from all these different perspectives, and it’s fun to see how people experience situations differently. It was also sort of beautiful to see how Mr. Dalloway, Clarissa’s husband, clearly loves her, but has no idea how to express it. It’s also wonderful to see how Clarissa understands him even if he can’t express himself.

It also tells the story of a young soldier who fought in world war one who is suffering from PTSD, and who has no idea how to deal with it. And who gets extremely paranoid about how his wife tries to help him. It only has a sort of peripheral relationship with the rest of the story, but it keeps going on in the background and being there all the time. And it was fascinating to see how mental illness is dealt with, and how Septimus Smith has no idea what he’s doing, and what’s making him feel this way. I obviously know nothing about how it feels to have PTSD, or what it feels like to be a soldier, but it seems to me like Virginia Woolf portrays PTSD and being a soldier really well, which I thought was really impressive.

I found it really interesting how to me Clarissa came across as kind, and maybe a bit silly, and like she quite wanted to be… “normal” I guess. She wanted her daughter to be a normal girl, and she wants to have a normal marriage, and have a good party and whatever high society women in England were meant to do in the 1920s. She doesn’t seem cruel in any way, just… a nice, lady who has lived up to what society and her family has expected her to do. And when we move to Peter’s perspective we see a very different view. Peter seems to see her as quite hypocritical and that she’s been playing him, and why did she choose Mr. Dalloway? Because, Peter was there. He also seems to think that she’s somehow disappointed by taking up her expected role in society, because she was a bit rambunctious and exciting as a young girl. So, yeah.


I really loved it. I thought it was fascinating and cool, and obviously I like books without plot and which are slow and a bit weird. So I liked it. More Virginia Woolf now.