“To be silent; to be alone. All the being and the doing, the expansive, glittering, vocal, evaporated; and one shrunk, with a sense of solemnity, to being oneself, a wedge-shaped core of darkness, something invisible to others … and this self having shed its attachments was free for the strangest adventures.”
Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse has the same flair and flavor that Jacob’s Room does. It’s crafted with a lot of intensity, but a rich British subtlety too. It’s the story of a family with a cottage home on the coast of England. Again, the time setting is around one of the Great Wars. It’s a note to how much Virginia Woolf was impacted by these global events. Her brother died in the first Great War, if I’m not mistaken.
“And all the lives we ever lived and all the lives to be one full of trees and changing leaves.”
The narrative is like a tapestry, woven to stream fluidly through our mind as we read like a memory like a movie. We experience the death of the matriarch of the family, the impact that has on her children, but, most importantly, on her stoic, somber husband. Though he seems so stereotypically British and devoid of passionate feelings, their love is so touching. We learn, through key moments, how much they genuinely loved each other. Unfortunately, some of the children die too. The book is essentially the chronology of an entire family life including its glimmers of happiness and its tragedies.
Woolf, Virginia. To the Lighthouse. New York: Harcourt, 27 December 1989.
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