Reading Challenges

July 29, 2011

Virginia Woolf's To the Lighthouse Read Along-Week 4

The reading of this short novel has sadly come to an end. I've read it in four sections, one for each week in July, following the schedule proposed by read-along host Unputdownables HERE.

If you're jumping in for the first time, feel free to read my earlier comments on the To the Lighthouse:

After the book's long exposition, followed by the quick-paced third section in which life-altering events unfold within seconds, the forth and final section has us return to a pace closer to that of the beginning, yet so much has changed that the returning familiar rhythm of the novel affects the reader differently. Time takes on a slow distant feeling, but the characters in To the Lighthouse have been changed so drastically by loss that the novel's theme of transience becomes overpowering as characters search for ways to reconcile with each other in an ever-changing world. 

The two most powerful and symbolic events witnessed in the final passage are interlinked: Lily Briscoe's completion of her painting and the long-awaited visit to the lighthouse by the Ramsay family--this time initiated by Mr. Ramsay in the company of his begrudging and diminished offspring. In this passage, all characters confront their own sense of perception and introspectively come to terms with one another and themselves. While it may sound cliché within a single phrase, Woolf weaves it together beautifully in the slowly unfurling pages of her novel's final chapter. 

While I've found it challenging to write a review in four sections instead of one overall, I hope it's apparent that Woolf's amazing and sensitive use of prose, psychology and memory left this reader feeling that all of To the Lighthouse's accolades are well founded. Prior to this novel, I had only read Woolf's essays, although I now fully intend to explore her other works. 

The following is an NPR interview with professor Reynolds Price on To the Lighthouse.


  1. I was so mad at myself...I signed up for the read-along and didn't realize that the Woolf book that I actually had, as opposed to the one I had, was The Voyage Out. So yeah--not a single post on Woolf.

  2. Oops. When you do get a copy of "To the Lighthouse", you might find that it's so short, it's better to read it in less than a month. It was a challenge for me breaking up the reading into four chunks (but an interesting experience nonetheless). I'd like to read "The Voyage Out" soon! I need to get a copy.

  3. This interview with the professor looks really interesting! Now if I can just carve out an hour to watch it. :)

  4. As always your review is spot on... great job reviewing. I found this book very hard to review because it was such a different type of book than any I've read.

    I'm not in a place where my Internet is fast enough to watch the interview, but I would really like to when I have the chance. I'll bookmark this post. Thanks for sharing it!

  5. Thanks Jill & Wallace! Enjoy the interview and thanks for reading with me! :)


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