Review: ‘To the Lighthouse’ by Virginia Woolf

Where do I begin when it comes to this book? I am writing this right after having finished it. Maybe it’s not a good idea. I feel like I am adrift like the boat when the wind goes out of its sails and it just rocks with the waves. I am not sure what to think about this book. At some levels, I can see the hints of brilliance that people rave about when they discuss Woolf, and at the same time, I feel like I haven’t grasped it just yet, it’s just beyond my reach.

I think part of the problem is the style of writing, which is a mix of stream of consciousness, and the other is that it doesn’t have a linear plot. When we open this book we are met by Mrs. Ramsey with her husband and family of eight children at their vacation home with some friends. The first part of the book is about the day or two they are there and we go from character to character and get a glimpse into their minds, what they are thinking about themselves, about the other people around them and the events occurring. In this way, we get to know who everyone is. All the while, the underlying question is whether going to the lighthouse will be feasible due to the weather.

The second part is about time passing over the years. The house almost becomes a metaphor for the family, reflective of how time has changed the family dynamic as people die, marry, give birth and so on.

Then in the third and final part of the book, the family returns to the house some years later, quite altered, and they make plans to do what they didn’t get a chance to do so many year before.

I know that the lighthouse is supposed to be symbolic of something but I haven’t quite figured it out. Maybe I am completely overthinking this whole book and it really is as simple as it seems.

I think this is a book that you have to read several times to get the full meaning behind it. With each reread, you will uncover another little secret that was held from you before.

As for Woolf’s writing, once I got used to her style, I rather enjoyed reading it. There is no doubt that she has a way with words. You still can picture what is going on around you but you can’t quite put your finger on the underlying current, almost like Lily Briscoe trying to paint the picture of the family but can’t quite get the picture to become clear.

I gave this book three stars, aka a neutral rating, because right now I don’t know what to rate it. This can change as things become more clear to me.


Have you read “To the Lighthouse”? What did you think? Let’s discuss!

2 thoughts on “Review: ‘To the Lighthouse’ by Virginia Woolf

  1. […] I liked this book but I am not fully sure what I think about it. Woolf’s writing took some getting used to and while I had understood what was going on, I felt like the whole meaning of the book was just out of my grasp. I think this is a book that I will have to read more than once. My thoughts are similarly laid out in my review. […]

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