Book Review #157 – Orlando, by Virginia Woolf

Hello dear readers!

Here is my review for Orlando, by Virginia Woolf.

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9780143566458

Synopsis:

Virginia Woolf’s Orlando, “The longest and most charming love letter in literature,” playfully constructs the figure of Orlando as the fictional embodiment of Woolf’s close friend and lover, Vita Sackville-West. Spanning three centuries of boisterous, fantastic adventure, the novel opens as Orlando, a young nobleman in Elizabeth’s England, awaits a visit from the Queen and traces his experience with first love as England, under James I, lies locked in the embrace of the Great Frost.

At the midpoint of the novel, Orlando, now an ambassador in Costantinople, awakes to find that he is a woman, and the novel indulges in farce and irony to consider the roles of women in the 18th and 19th centuries. As the novel ends in 1928, a year consonant with full suffrage for women, Orlando, now a wife and mother, stands poised at the brink of a future that holds new hope and promise for women.

 

Pros:

  • very beautifully written
  • interesting dissection of what it means to be a man, a woman or none of that at all

 

Cons:

  • a bit hard to follow sometimes

 

Verdict:

I was feeling like it was finally time for me to read some Virginia Woolf. I had Mrs. Dalloway and Orlando but I was recommended to start with the latter. I have to admit it was kinda hard reading this at first. I’ve been reading so much contemporary YA, fantasy and comics, I’m not that familiar with the language used in these older books. So, getting used to that was difficult. It’s not like the language itself was too complex or anything but it was just getting used to. But besides that, this was very pleasent and nice to read. It was a lot more funny than I was expecting. For some reason I thought Woolf’s work was sad but this was not the case. At least, mostly. Orlando has her downtimes but her and her biographer have some very funny moments! What I found more interesting was how Woolf’s dissected what it means to be a certain genre, even at different times. It really left me thinking. I guess the hardest thing about this book was following the narrative. It jumps a lot without much telling and sometimes I didn’t really knew what we were talking about. I guess me not being used to this type of narrative and language plus some others distractions didn’t help to my reading experience but, nevertheless, I really enjoyed this book!

Mrs. Dalloway will probably be my next Woolf read but do you have any suggestions? Let me know!

Until soon,

Cat.

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