Six children - Bernard, Susan, Rhoda, Neville, Jinny and Louis - meet in a garden close to the sea, their voices sounding over the constant echo of the waves that roll back and forth from the shore.
The book follows them as they develop from childhood tao maturity and follow different passions and ambitions; their voices are interspersed with interludes from the timeless and unifying chorus of nature.
©2013 W F Howes Ltd (P)2013 W F Howes Ltd
"I am writing to a rhythm and not to a plot'" (Virginia Woolf)
"Full of sensuous touches...the sounds of her words can be velvet on the page" (Daily Telegraph)
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"Acquired, but worth it."
Highly. It was difficult to get through, but, as with ALL Woolf novels, everything - every last word - is all tied together at the end. The entire journey is meant for the last few pages.
This book has a host of characters. There isn't necessarily a favorite. The whole cast of characters is the character.
Julia's performance is spot on and brings the characters to life perfectly. She reads it as though she discussed the performance with Woolf herself.
It is an extremely abstract book. There will be several times when you have no idea what's happening. But then strings will suddenly snap together. Every word is there to build a road that you aren't necessarily aware you're travelling on. You experience life with every character and it is as absolutely touching, confusing, and realistic as reality. There are several things that happen at the end that made me not only reread, but tear up.
Woolf is one of the best writers we've ever had. And she always - always - sticks her endings.
"Much better to listen to than to read"
I had struggled with this book before. However, listening to it while walking the dog allows its beauty and strangeness to grasp you. Wonderful.
"“So strange is the contact of one with another.”"
Being carried on from one monologue to another.
How different it is from a Virginia Woolf novel that I like much better - "To the Lighthouse".
I expect to re-read “The Waves” (1931), in part because its (Modernist) difficulty is likely to release new meanings, rather than confirm assumptions or provide reassurance, but also because as its six characters get older and, in their interspersed monologues, contemplate death so they seem to matter more and move beyond their very irritating youthful characters.
Even after one reading, though, I would say that while “The Waves” is acute on time, it relegates the social and historical insights that occur from time to time, and, to my surprise, at least, emerge much more unerringly in “Mrs Dalloway” (1925) and “To the Lighthouse” (1927). Possibly, this is because Virginia Woolf sticks, mostly, to the perspectives (and the narrowness of political outlook) of Bernard, Susan, Rhoda, Neville, Jinny, and Louis; but, equally, it could be because of Woolf’s allegiance to the values of nature announced in the title and pursued doggedly, as well as through the unnamed third-person narrator who follows the rhythm of one day even as the six named characters go through to middle-age. This allegiance to nature or natural reality is quite deliberate on Woolf’s part and distinguishes “The Waves” from “To the Lighthouse”, which, in some respects, it resembles. Whereas in “To the Lighthouse”, for all its Modernist interest in consciousness, there is a concern with how people inter-relate in society, in “The Waves” “the contact of with one another” is “strange” for the characters. Almost in spite of her metaphysical interests, though, there are so many wonderful passages in “The Waves” when society – and particularly London society -- presses upon the more worldly of the six characters that there is an even greater novel shadowing the novel that Virginia Woolf has written.
"A very acquired taste"
I thought I ought to listen to something slightly more upbrow, but found this deadly dull and uninspiring. Despite it being set more than 50 years ago, I can't believe that children and teenagers ever spoke to, and about each other like this in prose that sounded more like they were 60 year olds, and rather pompous ones at that, I managed about half of the book, before abandoning it having found that I was listening to it and not taking any of it in, so much so that I regret spending money on it. Not sure who would find this book appealing.
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