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To the Light House – Virginia Woolf (Book)

To the Light House – Virginia Woolf.

My first Virginia Woolf book that I randomly picked up last year from “Blossoms” just like that to get a hang of her writing and if I have to explain my feelings today after finishing up (took me a week) it is simply “Mind-blowing”. Another book that made me feel incapable of putting into words how and what I feel about it. I had no idea before I picked up the book that what I was getting into as I never read a blurb, introduction or a foreword as mostly they are full of spoilers (some times unintentionally). Imagine this one has an introduction written by some Saransh Sharma for some reason and goes on for about 30 odd pages, I am glad I skipped it before reading the book and read it after I finished last night, shockingly it turns out be one huge review of the book and his own interpretation as what Ms Woolf wanted to say from her book (like seriously a reader wouldn’t be able to make out on his own??). I am shocked to know that Virginia wrote this at the age of 18 and it took me some serious effort to grasp at 42, she is simply Wow. I am not much into poetry but trust me when I say this, it is actually pure awesome poetry stretched to the size of a novel (180+ pages) with as short as 5 word sentences to 300 word sentences, as short as two and a half sentence chapters to as long as 30 odd pages with paragraph of paragraph thrown at the unassuming reader much to my delight though (by mid time) which put a huge huge satisfactory grin on my face by the time it ends. I couldn’t believe my eyes to read that someone at that age can be this philosophical, understanding and mature about life, hats off to her for this incredible piece of literature which is considered to be one of the best from 20th century.

Going by the title and its beautiful cover I thought it is going to be an amazing love story and undoubtedly it turned out to be one of the most beautiful love story of Mrs and Mr. Ramsay. Although Mr. Ramsay is superb carved out like a total chauvinist pig by Ms. Woolf (I gave his character some slack as it was written 100+ years ago) but still my heart cried out for Mrs. Ramsay’s love, respect and adoration for the man, the way she handles him and the way he is show, totally hell bent on proving her wrong and snubbing her at the first instance possible still the way they love and admire each other by not saying anything but just by little gestures and of-course this is not a spoiler when I say this that she has a very small dream about the Light House, which she keeps working on and how or does it gets fulfilled? how and by whom? for that one needs to read this incredibly beautiful story. Ramsay’s go to their holiday home every year with eight of their kids and a couple of close family friends, a beautiful house near the beach over looking the Light House on a small island nearby. Entire story is stretched over the fifteen years of their life and keeps shuffling back n forth between the perished present and the beautiful past. I loved the way Woolf throws her own philosophy towards life and so many things through her characters. Totally amazing stuff. Loved the way she puts across her love of Arts, Writing and especially Shakespeare by comparing his work with a simple pebble which will outlive the masters writings. So much she has covered by this small book and story that it was simply mind-blowing. our purpose of life, the futility of being alive and trying to achieve one’s dream and the inevitable end. Incredible it is.

I so much want to talk about so many characters which make such an amazing unforgettable impression in my heart and I totally fell in love with of-course other than the two best Mr and Mrs Ramsay. Their son James who hates his dad like anything, to the extent of he even imagines stabbing his heart with a knife at times :). Their daughter Cam who admires her dad big time. Also Lily the family friend who is making the painting of a life-time and who sees her own mother in Mrs. Ramsay. Mr. Carmichael the poet and little love stories that Mrs. Ramsay helps start up during their vacation in her dining hall. The entire story is so full of life that this will be one of those very few books which I would love to read again in very near future just to enjoy it more and what a meaningful read it is. A must must read for all. One of the most important thing that I and her kid James kept looking forward to the trip to the light house and reason why it had to be done. How long it actually takes and the reasons behind it was something that invoked so many feelings and touched me so much. At times I felt too close to the character of James myself as it was my story and I am yet to find or reach my own Light House.

Initially as I started reading, I was totally turned off by her language, so many characters to track on and the third party narrative. It was actually hard to keep up as whose side of story she was telling but as I kept ploughing forward for the love of reading, it made heavy dividends after I was a quarter into the book by beautiful flowing words, sentences and para’s that I kept going back at least 2-3 pages every-time I took a break and picked up the book again. Hence it took me close to one week to finish a book of mere 180 pages that too when the book’s physical size too is too small. If you have read this and loved it exactly the way I loved it, do let me know how you liked it and if you haven’t read, you have no idea what you are missing, but do remember, it isn’t an easy read from any standard. I will certainly be taking a break from her works for now before picking up “Mrs Dalloway” before anyone jumps and recommends it :).

Published inBook Review

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