Collector's Library, 2003 - 224 pages
Mrs Dalloway explores both the raw hold of the past and the brighter potential of the future. Clarissa Dalloway is the wife of an MP and an assured socialite, yet as she prepares for her party on a hot London day in June 1923 the shell-shocked Septimus Warren Smith hears the birds in Regent's Park chattering in Greek. There seems to be nothing, except perhaps London, to link Clarissa and Septimus. She is middle-aged and prosperous, with a sheltered happy life behind her; Smith is young, poor, and driven to hatred of himself and the whole human race. Yet both share a terror of existence, and sense the pull of death. The world of Mrs Dalloway is evoked in Woolf's famous stream of consciousness style, in a lyrical and haunting language which has made this, from its publication in 1925, one of her most popular novels. Through Virginia Woolf, we can follow Clarissa through London as she interacts with servants, shopkeepers, her children, her husband, and even an ex-lover. We see revealed inner machinations that are incongruous with her class-defined behaviour, that ultimately enable her to transcend them.