on 30 March 2013
Like so many books of short stories, even this collection of five stories from the unassailable Virginia Woolf, is something of a flea market.
Ranging from the absolute sublimity of the collection's eponymous story, through to the stolid indifference of "Solid Objects" and the rambling inanity of "The Mark on the Wall", this collection leaves no doubt of the genius of her writing, but suggests Woolf made short shrift of the importance of story-telling.
The difficulty with Woolf is much the same as the protagonist's from "Solid Objects", whose purpose is waylaid by any number of droll diversions. Her fascination with trivialities steals her attention away from more serious matters, and instead of counterpoising the beauty of her prose with the need to tell a story, the stories have an innate tendency to drift with little purpose.
However, along with the title story, the final story, "Lappin and Lapinova", rescues the collection by offering a clever and insightful tale about the subjective and nuanced minutiae of married life. By offering stunning description suffused with complex characters and exemplary poise, Woolf proves that even with her tendency to meander, her words carry enough weight to keep even the most unforgiving reader wedged firmly in their seat.