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.