Tuesday, November 15, 2016

To the Lighthouse - Virginia Woolf

To the Lighthouse
Title: To the Lighthouse
Author: Virginia Woolf
Publication Date: 5/5/1927
Pages: 209
Genre: Classic / Historical / Fiction
How I Found It: 100 Best Novels
Date Completed: 10/11/16

Summary: An intended family trip to the lighthouse is delayed by many years. Much more than this simple plot, the book revolves around the complexity of relationships and the reality of personal experience.

What I Thought: I have a feeling I will come back to this book multiple times in the future. In this particular reading, my first, I did not feel swept away by the book or immediately infatuated with it. Rather, I felt a slow pull, a sense that this book matters and has a depth which will take more than one reading to explore. 

To me, this felt very much like a test read, an exploration of what Woolf is about, an examination in preparation for future endeavors. I want to read more Woolf. She's one of the few female authors to have really broken through and impacted the literary world in her time. I like her writing style (a realization which was a bit of a relief considering how much I wanted to like her writing before even opening the book). The style and the story both reminded me quite a bit of Kate Chopin's The Awakening, which is one of my absolute favorites. 

This is certainly I book I will come back to. I want to dig deeper into the portrayal of relationships. Woolf clearly is projecting some autobiographically thoughts and I want to learn more about her so I can better appreciate the complexity of both the relationships on the page and off. I also really liked the exploration of how one person's perception of a relationship or experience can be so different than another person's - or at least so different from the truth. I think that is an idea about which we don't often talk, but shapes so many of our choices and opinions about others. I like that Woolf tackled it. 

If nothing else, I like that Woolf offers up complex female characters. So many of the books on the 100 Best Novels list have used women as caricatures rather than treating them as equal players on the stage of storytelling. Of course, Woolf's own gender certainly plays into this. It was just so refreshing to have women being real women - not simply serving as wives or girlfriends or props.  

I need to come back to this book when I have nothing but time. I need to not read through it in a hurry, as I admittedly did. I need to read through it on lazy winter afternoons, luxuriating in both the beautiful language and the depth of thought on display. I need to come back to this book when I am ready to devote the time it deserves. If I could appreciate it even this much with a fairly cursory reading, I have high expectations for my response to a deeper examination.

Rating: ★★★★☆
Will I Re-Read: Yes, I definitely want to reread this.

A Reduced Review: I wish I had the time or mental energy to really explore this book; it demands a second reading when I can fully appreciate its nuance and beauty. 


  1. This is a book I need to return to after college. I don't think I was mature enough to appreciate it in high school (the last time I read it), and I think there are a lot of other classic books that are similar in that regard.

    1. Same with me! I think we've talked about that idea before. This is definitely a book that I think the first reading doesn't do justice. It needs multiple readings to draw out all the goodness.