- Required reading for my British Literature course
I also recommend:
- Dubliners by James Joyce
Summary from GoodReads:
The novel that established Virginia Woolf as a leading writer of the twentieth century, To the Lighthouse is made up of three powerfully charged visions into the life of one family living in a summer house off the rocky coast of Scotland. As time winds its way through their lives, the Ramsays face, alone and simultaneously, the greatest of human challenges and it greatest triumph–the human capacity for change. A moving portrait in miniature of family life, it also has profoundly universal implications, giving language to the silent space that separates people and the space that they transgress to reach each other.
There are very few exceptional and miraculous novels that have the power to change their readers forever. To the Lighthouse is one of them.
This book has been on my bucket list of books to read for years. Last year I attempted to read it, but ended up putting it down after a mere 20 pages in, admitting defeat. Then, when I looked at the syllabus for my British Literature course this last semester I noted with both glee and dismay that, at the end of the semester, we’d all be reading it together.
Now that I’ve come through the reading and discussing of To the Lighthouse, let me be the first to say .. I wish I could experience it all again for the first time. This book changed me. It gave me a sense of satisfaction for finishing it – but more so it opened my mind to a completely different way and style of storytelling. Before I’d always gravitated toward the big stories (although, I also appreciated the emotional, more intimate stories as well). But Virginia Woolf writes these nuanced relationships and thought patterns with such skill that even the slightest thought becomes one of those “big story” moments … and that is what changed me.
It’d be hard to pick one scene out of this book that’s a favorite, but if pressed I think I would choose the scene where the family and their guests are seated at the dining room table. There is such complex writing in that scene that I imagined a little thought-fairy, tripping happily from mind to mind, allowing the most private, innermost thoughts there own time and space to emerge and cry out for help, for love, for hope.
This is a book that anyone who considers themselves to be an avid reader should read. It’s tough, I’m not going to lie and say it’s not, so sit down with a pencil, draw connections visually, have a piece of paper to write notes, actively engage with the text. Trust me, once you do that the rewards are bountiful.
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