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I must confess that I never quite got settled into Mrs. Dalloway, by Virginia Woolf. The peculiar structure of the book, with no distinct demarcation into chapters, the chaotic ebb and flow of the myriad of characters, and the old fashioned style of prose, did not resonate with me. As a result I struggled to finish this novel, despite its short length and having quite high expectations at the outset, owing to its acclaim as one Virginia’s Woolf’s most famous and popular works.

Nevertheless, I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge the redeeming aspects of Mrs. Dalloway. There were oases in the narrative in which I glimpsed flashes of Woolf’s brilliance as a writer. The description of the shell shocked Septimus Warren Smith was very convincing and remarkably realistic. I also found the reflections of Clarissa Dalloway and Peter Walsh on the vicissitudes of their past lives equally “human.” Moreover, Woolf brought the post World War I period in England to life vividly, against the backdrop of the declining British Empire.

Overall I would recommend reading Mrs. Dalloway if you are curious about Virginia Woolf’s writing or simply wish to expand your literary horizons. It is a short entertaining read.

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