Thursday, 28 April 2016

The Voyage Out || Virginia Woolf

'When I think of the age we live in, with its opportunities and possibilities, the mass of things to be done and enjoyed - why haven't we ten lives instead of one?'

I find it impossible to review Woolf's novels so I'm not going to even try. Instead, I'm just going to share a few thoughts and I'd love to hear yours too.

The Voyage Out has been on my shelf for not too far off a decade. Unread. Well, actually, I started to read it at college, but we had the choice to either write about TVO or George Gissing's The Odd Women. At the time The Odd Women spoke to me far more than Woolf. When I first picked the book back off my shelf, encouraged by HeavenAli's #Woolfalong, the page where I gave up on Woolf and moved on to pastures Odd was still marked: page 32.

This time, with a hard-won appreciation of Woolf and a love of her writing, I breezed past page 32 in the first sitting.

// The Voyage Out is certainly Woolf's most accessible novel. It follows a more traditional structure and does not focus on a stream of consciousness like her other works. I do think though that you can see the slow beginnings of her work taking shape, not quite as much as in Jacob's Room, but I think it's there.

'It's not cowardly to wish to live, Alice. It's the very reverse of cowardly. Personally I'd like to go on for a hundred years'

// It was quite odd but also quite reassuring to come across the Dalloways in the novel. I hadn't realised beforehand that they appear and have more than just a fleeting cameo.

// I loved the relationship between Hewet and Rachel and how, when they're first engaged, they feel the need to keep reminding themselves that they love one another. Not from a lack of feeling, but I think they're both overwhelmed by the suddenness and the happiness of it all.

// There are some wonderful quotes about happiness in this novel and it seems to be something that the characters are searching for and have a particular awareness about.

'Very gently and quietly, almost as if it were the blood singing in her veins, or the water of the stream running over stones, Rachel became conscious of a new feeling within her. She wondered for a moment what it was, and then said to herself, with a little surprise at recognising in her own person so famous a thing: 'This is happiness, I suppose.'

// I was quite taken aback by the ending. It caught me thoroughly off guard and I almost felt winded. I did like how it brings yet another layer of meaning to the title of the novel - a final voyage almost.

'At last she shut the book sharply, lay back, and drew a deep breath, expressive of the wonder which always marks the transition from the imaginary world to the real world.'

// I truly adored this novel with its insightful musings on life, happiness and existence in general. I'm sure it will stay with me for a long time and I already know that to revisit it will be like seeing an old friend after a long time has passed.

Have you read The Voyage Out? 


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