Hi there! This is the second book I read by Virginia Woolf. The first was Mrs. Dalloway which I read two years ago. And now I thought it was finally time to read To The Lighthouse. At first, it took me a while to get used to her style of writing again. And I can see why Virginia Woolf may not be everyone’s cup of tea. The style she uses, which is called stream of consciousness, can be confusing and a bit hard to keep up with. It consists of the character’s thoughts, about random things and sometimes there’s no chronological order between these thoughts — just how the mind works. Not to mention, in this flow of words, she jumps from one character to another without any previous notice. In the beginning, it all feels a bit strange, but once you start reading and get used to it, it’s hard not to admire Woolf and her words.
To The Lighthouse centers on the Ramsay family, Mrs. Ramsay in particular. To be honest, the plot itself is not outstanding. It describes the day-to-day events that occur in her house, near the sea, where they have a clear view of the lighthouse. Mr. and Mrs. Ramsay have eight children, from toddlers to teens, who go on and about their day. Mrs. Ramsay plays and takes care of the youngest one, and her main worry is the weather and if they’ll be able to go to the lighthouse.
It’s important to point out that Mr. Ramsay is a particular character who, alongside some other secondary ones, represents the male chauvinism of that time. He is also very insecure about this profession and the legacy of his book and seeks other people’s acceptance — especially his wife’s. Another important character is Lily Briscoe, who becomes a protagonist towards the end, and we get to see things from her perspective. She represents a feminist who doesn’t conform to the norms of her time, a woman who wishes independence and rejects marriage, something she knows Mrs. Ramsay wouldn’t approve of nor comprehend. Just like Mr. Ramsay, she is also insecure about her work, a painting she’s been working on for years.
The family returns to their beach house a decade later and invites Lily to spend time with them. In the end, Mr. Ramsay and his two youngest children finally pay a visit to the lighthouse while Lily stays in the house to finally finish her painting. That is when she realizes that what matters most is the final result of her vision, not the legacy it leaves.
I’m omitting certain parts in order not to spoil it for anyone, but really, there aren’t that many major events. And the only “big” events are briefly described in a few sentences — which can be offputting if you were looking for a plot with twists and turns.
While I enjoyed it (though towards the end it became really slow, to be honest), I’d suggest you first read Mrs. Dalloway before first. In this novel, the effects of the stream of consciousness are more intense, hence increasing its difficulty. But this is what makes Virginia Woolf’s work different. Her prose is remarkable, there’s deep character development and the scenery and events are described with rich metaphors (and I’m a sucker for metaphors).
“𝙰𝚗𝚍 𝚊𝚐𝚊𝚒𝚗 𝚜𝚑𝚎 𝚏𝚎𝚕𝚝 𝚊𝚕𝚘𝚗𝚎 𝚒𝚗 𝚝𝚑𝚎 𝚙𝚛𝚎𝚜𝚎𝚗𝚌𝚎 𝚘𝚏 𝚑𝚎𝚛 𝚘𝚕𝚍 𝚊𝚗𝚝𝚊𝚐𝚘𝚗𝚒𝚜𝚝, 𝚕𝚒𝚏𝚎.”
Have you read To The Lighthouse yet? Let me know!
‘Til next time!