And the trend of bringing writers to life through fiction continues with Adeline by Norah Vincent. In a refreshing turn, this time we have a female writer – Virginia Woolf – front and center with her husband and other members of the Bloomsbury group playing a secondary role.
Now for the embarrassing part. I’ve never read anything by Virginia Woolf. How crazy is that? And I think I would have gained so much more from this novelization of her writerly life if I had. I could tell there were allusions to To The Lighthouse, but I may have gotten more out of them if I had actually read the book. And I’m sure Orlando would be all the more salacious, had I actually read it. But…
What I did really appreciate, however, were the insights given into the times and the Bloomsbury group in particular. Woolf was great friends with Lytton Strachey and T.S. Eliot. Seeing how these people negotiated homosexuality, antisemitism, neuroses and a socialism of privilege was really fascinating.
Who would like this book? More than other books about writers, I would say this book is for the fan of Virginia Woolf. The sections dealing with Adeline, for me, were of the least interest, but perhaps the most revealing for fans of Woolf. Stylistically, these sections were also the most difficult. If i were to read Norah Vincent again, I’d turn to her memoir, Self-Made Man, which recounts her 18 month stint of living as a man.
I received a copy of the book from the publisher via NetGalley for review consideration.
I haven’t read anything by Woolf yet, either, but this is the second book about her that I have seen recently. Reading about the Bloomsbury group appeals to me. I wonder which book is better?
Her memoir sounds interesting! I hope you read it. 🙂
I love reading about the Bloomsbury group, though reading their work has never appealed to me that much. I do hope to get to Woolf one day, perhaps Orlando (i think it is short).
You’re definitely not alone in not having read Virginia Woolf. I keep trying to read Mrs Dalloway but it never really goes anywhere. I’ve only read A Room of One’s Own which I do recommend but haven’t read any of her fiction. I’m kind of curious about this book though…
Tanya – I think you have stayed in the Bloomsbury area of London – 3 times? Also I had a delightful walk from Cambridge to the “summer retreat” of the Bloomsbury group along the river some years ago.
I have indeed, and I took a photo of Virginia’s house last time I was there.
I really want to read this, I have actually begun reading Virginia Woold again recently. I read two novels before many years apart, but her work didn’t take then. I hope I am now in the right mood for her, I recently read Orlando and The Voyage Out and I really loved them.
If you’re a fan of Woolf, then I think you’ll really enjoy it. Since I’ve never read her in felt like I was always missing something.
I’ve read Mrs. Dalloway and A Room of One’s Own pretty recently, but I’d like to re-visit To the Lighthouse (read in high school) and read some of her other books before trying this one. I do find Virginia Woolf and the Bloomsbury Group fascinating, so I would like to read it!
It sounds like you’d get so much more out of it than I did.
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I love Virginia Woolf but read her so long ago I’m not sure I’d recognize allusions to her books in this novel but I am so excited to read this! Earlier this year there was another great novel called Vanessa and Her Sister which was about the Bloomsbury group from Virginia’s sister’s perspective. If you liked that time and those people you might like it as well.
I actually think I had this book mixed up with Vanessa and Her Sister when I picked it up. I find it interesting that both books are about Virginia, but both mention someone else in the title.