My Book Review
To the Lighthouse
by Virginia Woolf
if your being entertained by a novel requires an active and thrilling plot, this is probably not the best choice for you
on a macro level, this to me read as a study on the nature of thought, explored through a minor cast of characters — its turbulent, inexplicable manner, how easily it can be lulled into reverie or lured down infinite pathways, its inexorable link to memory and sensation, its absolute solitude, and so on.
most writing on the book tends to i n c l u d e the phrase "stream of consciousness." well, yeah. most of the story, or “content” (perhaps a better word) consists of the characters’ immense and endlessly cascading inner worlds. setting, personalities, and relationships are all developed through our witnessing of interiority, as it pounces from one character’s mind to the next.
my favorite bit was the middle and shortest of the three sections "time passes," wherein woolf departs from the day-to-day narrative and veers into a kind of time-warpy and at times hypothetical realm full of poignant, untethered lyricism (exploited to its fullest in her later novel, The Waves, one of my favorite books of all time).
SO JUST TO SUM UP: slow and even dull in its plotline, but rich and pretty frikkin astounding in its exploration of the nature of our minds, life, art, human relations, memory, time, all as pondered through the consciousness of a few fictional people.
oh yeah and also some stuff about power dynamics between the sexes