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Recent Thoughts and Other Things…

I’ve read 4 books since my last review post and finished up May strong with 8 books (one of which was a skim from half point…)

Total for the year so far:  39 books, 9672 pages, ~147 hours

I decided a quick audiobook (< 3 hours) was just the thing to catapult my month’s stats to something I can be proud of and chose Rebecca Solnit’s Men Explain Things to Me It was both unexpected and affirming; she is an eloquent voice for feminism and human rights. I very much enjoyed this. I was also pleased that she lent insight to Virginia Woolf’s Orlando

I DNF’d Orlando Sob, shame, embarrassment. It is NOT a summer beach read; it is dense and though very lively, it takes concentration. I admit I was lost and believe this would be a great book for serious study just not right now in the moment of my crazy life. I had originally attempted the audiobook – nope. Reading the ebook was easier, but… I can’t quite describe the feeling of drowning it gave me. Submerged in what I can only assume is amazing prose but HUH? I need guidance for next time. And I do want to try again. It’s not dry and dusty; it is very lively, but hold on! Goodness.

My neighbor gave me a book written by a friend of hers from a writing group she was involved with. I must say that it was well-written and informative, fascinating even.  I know many will and should enjoy it. It just wasn’t my cup of tea in style and format; I guess genre. I like the heavier serious immersive stuff. (How I can say that I liked The Sport of Kings when I didn’t like it but I can “like” this but not? Does that make any sense whatsoever? Nah, I didn’t think so.) I can find much to admire and can recommend Holly Warah’s debut Where Jasmine Blooms I give it 3 slices of pie. (It did have lots of pie so I could bump up to a 4 slice?)  I now must get my hands on a recipe for SAMBUSIK PIE.

Finally, my MIL gave me  A Long Way Home by Saroo Brierly and I read it in one day. What an amazing story! If you have seen or  know about the movie Lion, you know what this is:  young boy finds himself on a train to Calcutta, many MANY miles away from home. He is adopted by a family in Australia and when he is 30, he decides to find out about his birth-family. WOW!!

I’m listening to Everything I Never Told You and honestly, I’m not feeling it. Shrug. I’m about 35% in. Maybe I’m just in a horrible mood this summer!? No, that can’t be all of it — I have Kitchens of the Great Midwest on ebook and I am finding it delightful.

Finally. School is out and we are headed to the boat and the lovely waters of Rhode Island. You may not see me around here much… Wishing everyone a super summer and lots of great reading!


Copyright © 2007-2017. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club.  It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

To the Lighthouse

WOOLF in WINTER.   I’m late to the party, having been unable to finish books by any deadline.  To catch up on the discussion, please visit the Evening All Afternoon post from January 29th.

Thoughts   To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf, no year printed?!* Harcourt Brace and World (originally published 1927), 310 pages

MOTIVATION to READ:    I’m falling in love with Virginia Woolf’s style.     I am attempting to participate in the Woolf in Winter Read-along but am woefully behind and have ‘blasts of doubt’** that I will get to the remaining books per the discussion timetable.    Can’t read everything!   I hate being overwhelmed by my tbr…    This was a library book, but I’m hoping to find a large print version so I can donate to the Shaw Home Library (and get my dear friend Madeline to read it – not that she needs large print but she doesn’t need me buying her books – ha!  *wink*)

WHAT IT’s ABOUT:    I’ve only just started reading everyone’s posts from two weeks ago, but I hope it is OK to borrow something I saw somewhere in a comment that this is “low on plot.”    The setting is a summer home owned by the Ramseys and filled with their eight children and more than a few guests and servants.    The first half of the book is comprised of a morning scene when a boy expresses a wish to go to the lighthouse but gets shot down due to probable weather conditions.   This part (and the day) ends at dinner.    The second half was an impersonal section of life thoughts (perhaps VWs?) with snippets of death notices – sounds harsh as I write it this way but it was harsh to me so I’ll not change it.     We are back at the summer house ten years later:     the servants tidy the place,   Lily starts over on a painting,  and a few others take a sailboat to the Lighthouse.    That’s about it.

I guess I should mention one of the main protagonists, Mrs. Ramsey, and how she is truly the heart of this novel.    We feel her thoughts and emotions (can thoughts be felt?   Are thoughts not energy?  – say yes – and we can feel energy, right?   so I do believe we can feel thoughts.)   We are “in knowing” of Mrs. Ramsey in the first half of the book as she contemplates everything that is important to her and we get softly seamlessly transferred between other character’s thoughts as they revolve around Mrs. Ramsey – she controlled a solar system and she was the sun.          It just struck me that I usually do not write much in my ‘thoughts’ posts about what a book is about but I want to with this one – and yet almost nothing ‘happens’!   I think, perhaps, that this book is another ‘in the head’ books and I’m not confident with literature-analysis.   Like the difference between knowing a great song and not being able to sing;  I appreciate the amazing critiques but feel unable to express (or even have) my own thoughts.   I am in awe of the other reviews and feel so humbled to think I want to try and be smart enough to participate.   (thus the few comments – I am inadequate even saying ‘wow – great review’.   But I’m here.   I’ll play.    Ya know, these things can get so intimidating – these discussions – but …    I don’t know.  I’ll shut up.   No, I won’t, who am I kidding!?


Last night, in my sleeps or in my dreams, I’m really not sure which, I wrestled with thinking and the construction of sentences with many commas as Ms Woolf does in this book and I felt the wave action of strange thoughts move and toss me and myself questioning the big questions without really voicing or expressing the question in words – it was a strange gloomy glossy swirly experience that now is only a shimmering hazy reflection that I’m not really sure happened as I remember.

Woolf’s prose is brain candy but luxurious candy like dark chocolate mousse or chocolate truffles from Godiva or Vosges Haute Chocolate with Bacon…

I did not like Mr. Ramsey.      I never did understand the ‘someone has blundered’ stuff.     He was like DOWN to his wife’s UP — opposites.  He only thought of himself – she thought of others.    His creation was his own wonderfulness living on;   hers was a beautiful moment held in time.    Not to say she was perfect;  I don’t want to say that.    But she was at least more self-aware and considerate, even if over-bearing.

p. 240 Mrs. R saying “Life stand still here.”

I loved the dichotomy of different perspectives all on the same event or situation.   How dinners together are wonderful or just a waste of time;  a silly diversion or necessary for true connections to others.

I was amazed at the skill that VW moved us through to other people – sometimes within sentences, so easy!   It felt like a camera panning over a scene and the thoughts therein voiced as the camera focused, from one person to the next.    How non-repetitive the obvious repetition seemed – it was appropriate.      How some phrases were poetry:   “He caught the rats, he cut the grass.”  p. 209  -and/or-   “ineffectiveness of action, supremacy of thought”  p. 292.

I adored Lily.   I respected her thoughtful questioning and her choosing her life as she did while accepting that others thought her a sad old-maid.    I loved her internal challenges to everyone – not giving Mr. Ramsey the sympathy he was so desperate for, considering the idea of not being kind to Charles Tansley because he was a total ass.

So much going on in this:   male-female relationships, generational differences,  reactions and choices per gender,  father-son vs.  father-daughter relationships, physical beauty and its impressions, marriage, even love as a concept – all kinds of love.

Do I assume that the red-hot poker flower was a symbol of something or that I’m over-analyzing?   Passions and emotions?      In fact, flowers in general appear everywhere throughout the text.   “She dropped her basket of flowers.”

I thought the very last line was incredible (and I would quote it here but I dropped the book back off at the library before I wrote it down!!!   oh well.)

RATING:   Five Pieces of Pie.

p155 – furze – gorse: very spiny and dense evergreen shrub with fragrant golden-yellow flowers; common throughout western Europe  (I don’t know gorse, either!   You get the same definition…)
p260 – benignant – serenely mild and kindly (I know benign – but am used to it only in terms of types of tumors;  I had not seen it in this form and even though I could ‘figure it out’, I wanted to write it down.)
p294 – cosmogony – the branch of astrophysics that studies the origin and evolution and structure of the universe (see note in parenthesis for benignant – same issue)
p296 – earwig – any of numerous insects of the order Dermaptera having elongate bodies and slender many-jointed antennae and a pair of large pincers at the rear.   YUCK.
p303 – censer – a container for burning incense; especially one that is swung on a chain in a religious ritual.
p309 – asphodels – a plant

I had the coolest bookmark for this book.   It featured a beautiful collection of lighthouses from Rhode Island.   If you would like to see it, please visit the artist who created it;  Bev’s  <– just click

(I just throw this in because it was from first thing this morning after getting 8″ of snow.    It was so beautiful but the pretty suspended stuff in the tree limbs and on the streets are already melted away…  I was trying to find a photo of Whale Rock which USED to be a lighthouse.)

* but this tiny print after the “All rights reserved, blahblahblah”  of Y.5.67 makes me think this book was printed in 1967.    A glued-in note states that the book was purchased for the Wareham Free Library in 1974.   The book cover says it is a Harbrace Modern Classic.

** Although the context weight is much different between my situation here and the one with Lily on p236-7, I loved this: “Always (it was her nature, or in her sex, she did not know which) before she exchanged the fluidity of life for the concentration of painting   (text shows no punctuation but I need a pause here) she had few moments of nakedness when she seemed like an unborn soul, a soul reft of body, hesitating on some windy pinnacle and exposed without protection to all the blasts of doubt.”


Copyright © 2010. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club. It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

Not Yet Ms. Dalloway

Thoughts   Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf, Harcourt Inc 1925, 194 pages

*****   WOOLF IN WINTER DISCUSSION JAN 15 at Sarah’s Blog ********

Unfortunately, I am scheduled away for most of Friday and into Saturday so this fun discussion will have to start without me.     AND I still have over 100 pages to read as I type this up and schedule for January 15.

So I’m going to do my own stream of consciousness rambling right here that may not have the eloquence and beauty of Woolf’s amazing prose but will discuss my thoughts of why I am reading this, why I read it originally, why I am RE-reading this, why I love it and perhaps I will even address some of the questions from the Reader’s Guide in the back of the book.   Shall we get started?   I’ll warn you:   this may get very very long.   I’m just going to pour out whatever is in my head and let it be.   Good luck.    I will not in the least be offended if you decide to skip out and buy your own flowers for a party somewhere else.

What flowers would you buy if you were planning a party?   I would buy daisies.   Big bright happy daisies…

Around 2000 or later, after reading Lord of the Rings in time to see the movies, I looked for a similar reading project and discovered everyone talking about Michael Cunningham’s The Hours.   Perfect!    Just what I was looking for.   And so, I decided to read Mrs. Dalloway first.

I remember thinking the pacing was so fast!   I remember thinking I should start again and read it immediately (I didn’t.)   I have always thought I should re-read it and so when The Flashback Challenge was suggested, I put it on the list.    When I discovered other book bloggers were planning on the Woolf in Winter, I knew NOW was the time.

I have a track record of really slacking on my reading in January.     Rather the first two weeks…    But WOW!   to jump into Clarissa’s day and follow not just her thoughts as she leaves the house and loves to walk in London and everyone wonders which member of royalty is in that car that just drove by, but get a glimpse in the heads of poor Lucretia feeling so very alone, protective of her husband, angry at the doctor who pooh-poohs her that there is anything at all the matter and her missing Italy so.    It just reminds me of how swirly in my head my own thoughts get and how much I have to do and how little I get done and does it really matter.    Self recognition – recognizing thoughts and judging if the thought is worthy.    It’s exhausting.

Of course it matters!    That’s what Ms Woolf wants us to recognize.    Each snap of a thought synapse, every memory that pops up, any silly inconsequential event that lies buried in time just may have had a huge difference – or not- in how our lives unfold.

As my husband likes to say, everything we do is like a drop in the water and we can watch or miss the ripples that go out endlessly over the ocean…

I don’t have any understanding or recognition of how startling this was as an experiment in novel form, but I love to be inside people’s heads.   I believe Woolf is masterful in Mrs. Dalloway to bring along the reader and see/feel/experience her fears and doubts and regrets.    Of course, she couldn’t have married Peter!   Oh, what a disaster that would have been.   But.    Oh the passion she missed, yes?

*** I’m still at the point when he barges in to see her while she is mending her dress.

[And, of course, her servants like her.    She has time to mend her own dress; she needn’t take the servants away from party prepping duties to attend to her  ooops!  ripped green dress that she could wear anywhere.       And those pangs of jealousy – not being invited to lunch.   Darn.]

She looked at Peter Walsh;  her look passing through all that time and that emotion, reached him doubtfully; settles on him tearfully;  and rose and fluttered away, as a bird touches a branch and rises and flutters away.

She hasn’t seen him in twenty years but it’s plainly obvious that rarely a day goes by in her perfect little life that she doesn’t somehow think of him.   She wants to talk about the old days and hold on to strange memory of the fun and energy of their youth!  But Peter hates to be reminded of what he had then; and then have to give her up and see her marry that ‘respectable gentleman.’   Oh what they both missed out on…

“Well, and what’s happened to you?”  she said.  So before a battle begins, the horses paw the ground; toss their heads; the light shines on their flanks; their necks curve.  So Peter Walsh and Clarissa, sitting side by side on the blue sofa, challenged each other.

Woolf creates with such IMAGERY!    such sweeping emotion in few words, short sentences and really long sentences full of semi-colons.   You must jump in the river and let it carry you where it will.     Every word feels easy yet deliberate.   Every paragraph is carefully constructed.    It’s only a few thoughts, a few moments in time.

Omigod!   There is SO.  MUCH.  HERE.    I’m 50 pages in and I want to talk about Peter, her daughter, her health issues, and Septimus’ madness.   and SALLY!

My memory is faulty.     I have never been a re-reader of books but maybe I just wasn’t ready – whatever that means.    I can’t say I’ve every really tried to re-read.  (is the dash needed?   re-read or just reread?)      and yet this book has one of the most famous of first lines.    I would only guess how I think I might be able to just recall how the rest of this goes – so I won’t.  ha!     Yet it is familiar.

I’m enjoying the richness of the detail.   The going back and forth of what is happening and the private thoughts of those experiencing what is happening.     Something yet is going to happen!     Something dreadful?     Likely some kind of miscommunication and misunderstanding – dotdotdot.     I only vaguely recall how the Septimus story line crosses with the party and all it’s goings-on.   It was that stupid doctor, right?  casually mentioning what crap he had to deal with (or didn’t really have to deal with) that day.       Makes me mad.

If I were in a writing workshop and it was suggested we take a day in the life  – I could do it.      I would be able to do this stream of consciousness, build the background and wrap it around the drudgery of a few hour’s tasks, cross it with activities at my neighbor’s house* and let the two worlds collide.     But it would be too close.   too raw, I think.

No, I couldn’t, wouldn’t do it.

So I’ll just decide to stare up into the sky and see what the plane is trying to write in puffs of smoke…   It is a “T” and then an “O”…  wait for it – yes, it’s a “F” and then another.    TOFFEE.   It’s an advert for toffee candies.

And we miss what we were waiting for anyway.   Staring up into the sky…    “Life is what happens when we are busy making other plans.”

I think I’ll buy myself some daisies.

Prayers for all in need.

Prayers for all in need.

*    Not to change the subject or anything, but I both want to share what weighs heavy on the heart and I don’t – I’m sure you understand.    And the tragedy in Haiti is also heart-heavy.   Isn’t that such a great way to say it?   Great as in big, not as in wonderful.      If you have read Mountains Beyond Mountains, you are familiar with Dr. Farmer and the amazing organization called Partners in Health that addresses health concerns all over the world.   I mention PIH because I believe that they have the resources available and already in place to do much to help the Haitian people and I encourage anyone/everyone to contribute to their work.   Thank you.      Listening to A Wrinkle in Time was good for me – I finished it Thursday.      See?   I have changed the subject some more.

For Reading Challenge(s):     Woolf in Winter, Women Unbound, Flashback, Global:  Europe



Copyright © 2010. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club. It should not be reproduced without express written permission.