To the Lighthouse

To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf — Reviewed by Guy Portman

To the Lighthouse

Mrs Ramsay is devoted to her eight children, and her imperious, intellectual husband Mr Ramsay. They are staying in their holiday home on the Isle of Skye in the Hebrides. There is a tentative plan to visit their lighthouse the next day, weather permitting. However, the proposed visit never takes place.

Part II, aptly titled Time Passes, takes place some years later at the same property, which is now in a state of disrepair. World War I is ongoing, Mrs Ramsay is dead, as is one of the sons, who perished in combat. Part III sees some of the surviving members of the family finally making the journey to the lighthouse.

This semi autobiographical, metaphor-laden novel is largely devoid of plot, the lighthouse trip plan and belated visit notwithstanding. The contents consist for the most of observations and endless interior monologue. Themes include depression and social class. Feminism and suicide are alluded to.

At a little over a 150 pages, To the Lighthouse appears innocuous enough, but appearances can be deceptive. This is in an exceedingly dense and ponderous work. For this reader the experience was akin to travailing through sinking mud.

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