Title: The Voyage Out
Author: Virginia Woolf
Challenges: A Read-Along, and The Classics Club
The first time I read Virginia Woolf, it was not a great experience. I almost gave up reading Mrs. Dalloway because it was not in typical story format. Then I had some coaching on how to read Mrs. Dalloway, and I survived. Later, I read some history on Woolf, and I realized that I felt compassion for her, as she had many internal struggles. Who cannot relate to internal struggles? I resolved to probably try another Woolf novel at a later time.
Well, that was a few years ago, so when o at Behold the Stars suggested a Read-Along of The Voyage Out, Woolf's first novel, I raised my hand and committed myself. My only regret was that I did not have a hard copy of the book and instead saved it to my iCloud Reader (or whatever it is called) via Amazon.com, and read it on my laptop. That was the first time I ever read "a book" on my laptop, and I really did not like it. It was not convenient, and I could not write notes in the margins. Yes, I could type notes if I highlighted a word, but it was not effective for my brain. It was not active reading. So, I hope never to do that again. I believe my experience would have been even better had I the hard copy.
Nevertheless, I still had a great reading escapade with The Voyage Out. It felt like my own emotional journey through the lives of these several English men and women, on a voyage to South America, where they spent some intimate time together.
One of the main characters is a young woman, Rachel, who lived a sheltered existence up until this voyage, when her aunt took her under her care, to expose her to the world. It was like a coming-of-age experience for Rachel. We witnessed her self-discovery as she developed opinions and thoughts and ideas about life. She even fell in love (for the first time) - I think, though I cannot say that she confirmed it herself. Her lover certainly claimed she was, but that was he defining her own feelings for her. I would have to look back to remember.
The other characters also seemed to be effected by Rachel's new journey and new birth. In true Woolf fashion, we knew what all of the characters were thinking and feeling. Everyone had their own opinions and experiences, and everyone was affected differently.
There were numerous ideas woven throughout the story to consider: such as life and death, youth and age, love and marriage, self-education and ignorance, wealth and poverty, the separation between women and men, dreams and reality, and I know there were many more, but after one read, I only scratched the surface.
The ending took me by surprise, and I was somewhat disappointed at first; but in the overall comprehension of the work, it made sense, especially considering Woolf's feelings on women and men, love and marriage, and life and death. It helped to know a little about the author to understand her worldview and why she would conclude this way. So the surprise ending actually tied everything together for me.
I hope to reread this again someday, but only after I get a hard copy.
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