'Mrs Dalloway has a simple enough plot: one day in June in the mid-twenties a rich society woman gives an elaborate party and a sad shell-shocked man commits suicide. It's the innovative telling of the story that makes it so startling. It's as if Virginia Woolf is using a kaleidoscope, rotating our view repeatedly, so that we see London and all its inhabitants in a new way. We know each character's thoughts and dreams, sympathise with their struggles and meditate on the meaning of life, while Big Ben chimes relentlessly throughout the day and an aeroplane writes mysterious messages in the clouds.'
On a June day in 1923, Clarissa Dalloway prepares for the party she will throw that evening. Her day – spent happily in love with life and London after a recent illness – is juxtaposed with that of Septimus Warren Smith, a veteran of the First World War. He is shellshocked, and hears sparrows speaking to him in Greek, but the doctors insist that ‘there is nothing wrong’. Virginia Woolf wished to present characters directly, without an intrusive authorial descriptive voice. In Mrs Dalloway she perfected an innovative new technique: stream of consciousness. The book is a dazzling, virtuoso display, as Woolf effortlessly glides between direct and indirect speech, shuttling the reader between past and present and jumping between characters to show the same event from different perspectives, from an old woman Mrs Dalloway sees in a park to a young Scottish maid.
For all its stylistic innovation, Mrs Dalloway is perhaps the most entertaining and accessible of Virginia Woolf’s novels, easily read as the story of a woman’s exploration of her past and a young man’s rejection of his future. When first published in 1925, it established Woolf as a pre-eminent Modernist writer and its reputation has only grown. In 2005, Time magazine chose Mrs Dalloway as one of the 100 best English-language novels.
This edition is introduced by Michael Cunningham, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning The Hours, which was inspired by Woolf’s novel. In his introduction he explains how ‘With Mrs Dalloway, Woolf argues that there are no insignificant lives, only insufficient ways of looking at them.’
Read more about the life and work of Virginia Woolf
Review by Smiler69 on 21st Apr 2013
"I've had many false starts with this novel over the years, and finally tried again last year and fell in love with it (timing is everything, isn't it?). So now, shortly after joining the Folio Society..." [read more]
Review by ericbruen on 21st Jan 2013
"Absolute stunning binding - definitely one of the most beautiful folio covers and easily the best of any Mrs Dalloway edition. This is my third Woolf novel (after To the Lighthouse and Orlando)and s..." [read more]
Review by wjcarter on 25th Apr 2012
"A beautifully presented book (one of the best covers of any Folio Society book) with delightful illustrations. The text consists of several thousand superbly written paragraphs that lead - well - abs..." [read more]