Thursday, February 10, 2011

Literary Bite: To the Lighthouse

Though I recognize that Virginia Wolf is one of the greatest modern writers, I did not particularly enjoy To the Lighthouse. We read it in my book club, and to be completely honest, if I wasn’t such as adamantly stubborn Book Club book finisher I probably would have quit about 30 pages in.

Luckily, the whole point of Book Club (for me at least) is to make me read and help me gain appreciation for books I wouldn’t normally read or like.

Through chatting with my fellow book-clubbers I learned that Virginia Wolf struggled with depression her entire life until she killed herself by filling her pockets with rocks and walking into a river (what a way to go!!!).

The plot of To the Lighthouse is set up like an “H”. The first part is one whole day of a family and friends at their summer home in the islands off of Scotland. Virginia Wolf is an absolute genius when it comes to exploring and capturing the essence of all types of human relationships - she articulates common emotions in the most amazingly accurate way.

And then ten years pass very quickly (the middle part of the “H”). WWII happens, the house decays, people die and Wolf just breezes over it (signifying the impermanence and irrelevance of life? Uhoh look at me getting deep).

And then the last part is another very detailed day. To the Lighthouse is one of those books where nothing really happens, because it’s more about human relationships.

So should you read it? Maybe. Some of my friends really liked it. And though I didn’t particularly enjoy reading it, I’m glad that I did.

And if you do read it, you should probably discuss it with friends (or your own Book Club) accompanied by lemon blueberry scones and shortbread (to go along with the book’s Scottish theme), and spinach artichoke dip (just because it’s delicious).

I’m pretty psyched about our next Book Club book: Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad.

Amazon tells us:
A masterpiece of twentieth-century writing, Heart of Darkness (1902) exposes the tenuous fabric that holds "civilization" together and the brutal horror at the center of European colonialism. Conrad's crowning achievement recounts Marlow's physical and psychological journey deep into the heart of the Belgian Congo in search of the mysterious trader Kurtz.

The Belgian Congo? I LOVE the Belgian Congo! (I know, I know, nerd alert!). So read it and we’ll discuss next month.