I picked up To The Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf at my university’s book sale. I decided it was time to read it more because of being an English student than because I was desperate to read it. I enjoyed To TheLighthouse so much that I decided to take a module on Woolf
The basic plot is The Ramsay family are on holiday with a number of guests on the Isle of Skye, the novel explores their relationships and the passage of time.
The plot, whilst interesting, isn’t the best part of Woolf’s book. Woolf’s narrative style allows for the narrative to easily flow between characters whilst still creating a clear character voice. In ‘How is Mrs Ramsay thinking? The semantic effects of consciousness presentation categories within free indirect style’ Eric Rundquist describes this as a combination of indirect and direct discourse, a ‘style [that] expresses a character’s subjectivity without quoting him or her directly and without subordinating it syntactically to a reporting clause’. Woolf’s writing is truly remarkable.
The community is relatively slow-paced and there is a sense of social stasis within the novel. Woolf’s description of time passing and how this is shown within the house during Part 2 of the novel is excellent and innovative, showing why Woolf has stood the test of time.
My favourite part was a dinner scene when the guests are ‘all sat separate’. The interaction, and lack of, between the characters was great, and demonstrated how well Woolf creates character. The social setting and the disconnection between the characters made for interesting reading.
I really enjoyed this novel, but think it’s something you will need to have to read. Woolf is a brilliant writer, and I’m so glad I read this novel and was able to study Woolf.