Book Review: Orlando

Author: Virginia Woolf

Rating: 1.5/5

Hello folks! What’s up?

If you have read my previous blog post, you would have noticed I mentioned something about the weekly segment being inspired by a recent event. So let me expound the “event”. I finished reading a novel just when my exams are round the corner! Isn’t that an achievement in itself? 😅

So after a long, long time let’s review a book!

Before beginning I would just like to say, I was quite excited and eager to read this novel.However things took an ugly turn and I was disappointed and confused after reading it. After completing her “To the Lighthouse”, I started adoring every word she had written and after this, I think I’ll enjoy a short break from classics by Woolf!

“I am sick to death of this particular self. I want another. “

A bunch of powerful words which convey a silent meaning immortal through the wheels of time.

This is your first encounter with Virginia Woolf’s Orlando, when you pick it up and flip it sideways. To be honest, I had chills reading these words and I doubt if there exists a person with whom these lines haven’t resonated,at some or the other level.

With such high expectations, you begin reading the novel and somewhere through the pages you realize you don’t really know what you are reading about. You quickly lose the direction of narrative and the plot appears to be arbitrary.

Plot

The plot of the novel attracts your attention in the first go, as it traces the journey of a man who changes into a woman over the unrealistic period of three hundred years. No doubt, this is quite a bold theme for the time around which this novel was written.The plot enriches you with the mentality and the changes in society over these years, however you fail to understand why the author wants us to know that and how are these changes essential in the narrative. In my opinion,vague pieces of plot are put together to narrate a rather disorganized story, incorporating a lot of themes which have not been properly executed. The novel begins with the titular character turning his life upside down after a heartbreak and end with her finding a perfect husband, settling in her role as the perfect homemaker. In between the two plot points the character reaches the zenith of political life, travels the world, seeks the meaning of life with gypsies, rejects various marriage proposals and battles with lawsuits. You expect that something substantial would come out of this journey, but you are left perplexed towards the end of this novel, which I guess has been left to interpretations, once the reader understands what’s it all about.

Characters

The main character is Orlando a man and then a woman in the book. Other secondary characters make their appearances at the least expected moments and offer nothing or very little to the narrative. Some characters are almost written off completely without a proper reason and exposition. I feel Orlando’s character has been written in a way to demand an unnecessary sympathy from the readers. Had his/her character been written in a strong manner, probably the novel would have turned out to be better.

Writing Style

Considering Virginia Woolf, I expected the writing to be strong, bold, screaming of revolutionary ideas, however expect the different plot twist, I was disappointed after reading this book. In the foreword it is mentioned this novel was written to be a mock biography, however I feel it was written more to mock the readers. The writing lacks spirit in many parts, which makes the book very mundane and the reader is bound to put it into his DNF pile.

The book has been written in the orthodox third person perspective, where the readers get an aerial view in the lives of the characters.

Reason(s) to read this book

1) Don’t.

2) Unless you are a huge fan of Virginia Woolf.

3) Or you aren’t looking for a soul satiating read.

P. S. I read this book as a part of a buddy read. I really liked the experience but detested the book! So I am open to more buddy reads but NOT Virginia Woolf!

So this is my review of a world famous classic. Tell me in the comments section how you liked the book.

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Until the next time,

Cheers!

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