I read/reread Orlando by Virginia Woolf this weekend. I remember being 21, playing a production of Ain’t Misbehavin‘ at a dinner theater in Florida when I was reading it the last time. That was several decades ago, and I remember that it didn’t make sense to me, I couldn’t keep the storyline in my head, so I let it go.
I don’t know why I picked up that book at the time. I think, maybe it was because I’d loved Mrs. Dalloway, which is by far one of my favorite novels of all time. At that time in my life, I was buying books (physical books) from a small bookstore on Main Street in Sarasota, FL. I’d buy books, consume them, and then I could take them back for credit at the store. Sure, less than what I’d paid, but credit toward the next book. I’d sit on my porch and read. I’d read backstage before shows and then during intermission. When I began touring, I’d sometimes read between numbers (if the pit was deep enough.)
Anyway, I hadn’t made it through Orlando the first time and recently it dawned on me, as I searched for a good book, that I should give it another try. After all, I’m a much different reader now. I made it through the book and I still love Virginia Woolf, but I don’t know that I’d put this one up at the top of my favorites list. I like the idea of a Dorian Grey character. I like the movement through time by a single character. But, it felt like she cheated. Woolf avoided the wars and strife of the world. She mentioned plague and WWI, but they were only mentions. It all felt a bit too easy and without any great conflict or tension. Just a this happened and then this happened sort of story. The writing is pretty good, from a construction standpoint, but…I wasn’t moved beyond words. Still, glad to have checked it off my list and now I can move on to another.