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29 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars an escape from conventions of society
Night and Day, Virginia Woolf's second novel, already displays the largeness of ambition which characterize the mature novelist. It is a study in contrasts between companionship and solitude, men and women, who, with alternate success and failure, try to resist the tendencies of their social groups and seek to define their own natural tendencies by separating accidental...
Published on 9 Feb 2002

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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Woolf's flawed second novel
Katherine Hilbery has everything - she is beautiful, well-born, intelligent, kind, reflective, sensitive, though not in a sentimental way, but... bored. She must find a purpose in life, other than being of a wealthy Chelsea family and the descendant of a famous poet, and she must choose between the weak-willed sophisticate William and the tempestuous Ralph. Though the...
Published on 8 Sep 2008 by reader 451


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29 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars an escape from conventions of society, 9 Feb 2002
By A Customer
Night and Day, Virginia Woolf's second novel, already displays the largeness of ambition which characterize the mature novelist. It is a study in contrasts between companionship and solitude, men and women, who, with alternate success and failure, try to resist the tendencies of their social groups and seek to define their own natural tendencies by separating accidental and superficial sympathies and antipathies from deeper feelings. In search of their true selves, they finally manage to escape the conventions of society.
The novel tells the story of Katharine Hilbery's gradual release from a life to which she has been ill-suited - a life of paying calls, pouring tea, being the research assistant and dutiful daughter of her parents. She does not have any responsibilities other than those of her social life and the household duties imposed. But despite her apparent passive acceptance, Katharine desperately seeks to escape from the frivolities of society to study mathematics and to dream of a different life. She falls in love with Ralph Denham, a young lawyer who works for a solicitor and writes articles for Mr. Hilbery's journal; he is poor but he has big qualities. His ambitions are stifled by his mother and six or seven brothers and sister who are dependent on him, and he seems to despise society and people like the Hilberys who lead idle lives and have plenty of money to spend. Ralph also takes refuge in his room from domestic life in order to work and to indulge in dreams.
Virginia Woolf brilliantly depicts the atmosphere in an intellectual middle-class family in early twentieth century British society. But she also describes the gradual change into a society the patterns and conventions of which are slowly disintegrating and the representatives of the younger generation begin to make their own way. We learn about the difficulties for Victorian women to find the time and the space to pursue their interests in serious work instead of permanently fulfilling their duties as 'Angels in the House'. Katharine is torn between "night" and "day", between her hidden passion for mathematics and astronomy and her social duties as hostess at the tea table in her father's house. Gradually, she gives up her self-abnegating role as dutiful daughter and her hostess for her family and discovers her own identity.
What I like about the book is Woolf's ironic style and her wit in which her social criticism is embedded. The novel does not read like a feminist manifesto that slags off the patriarchal values of British society, but is splendidly funny and leaves it entirely up to the reader to decide how much he or she wants to see in it. We understand Night and Day as the two complementary modes of existence, the rhythms of Woolf's books as they are of her life, depicted in a light-hearted and comic manner which makes it very enjoyable to read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great book, 9 July 2013
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W. Coward (Angleterre) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Night and Day (Kindle Edition)
As with all Woolfs novels, it is a pleasure to read and to reflect on the writing style of the time, which modern authors could emulate.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars No, not the film or the song, 4 Jun 2013
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A conventional romance, but only in relative terms -- it's VW, after all. Elements of Henry James, Shakespearean comedy, The Office, A Room with a View.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Woolf's flawed second novel, 8 Sep 2008
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reader 451 - See all my reviews
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Katherine Hilbery has everything - she is beautiful, well-born, intelligent, kind, reflective, sensitive, though not in a sentimental way, but... bored. She must find a purpose in life, other than being of a wealthy Chelsea family and the descendant of a famous poet, and she must choose between the weak-willed sophisticate William and the tempestuous Ralph. Though the love of the self-sacrificing suffragette Mary Datchet for Ralph and the upcoming law-clerk's failure to realise he is in thrall to Katherine provide a few twists and turns, such is in essence the plot of Night and Day.

All would be well if this were the psychological drama it appears to be, set in an atmospheric turn-of-the-century London. But Virginia Woolf also pursues a political message: in this novel, women answer to male stereotypes and vice versa. The women are logical and career-minded, the men coy and romantic. This might be fine, and it makes for a few good scenes, except that it doesn't quite fit the characters. Mary's ill-starred fate seems gratuitous. Katherine's interest in mathematics is too obviously a code, never properly illustrated. And her falling in love with Ralph isn't credible - she is too good for him, and it is all too sudden. It seems Night and Day can't quite choose what it is supposed to be: psychological or social comedy. It lacks the simplicity of Woolf's first novel The Voyage Out, the wistfulness of Mrs Dalloway, or the experimental complexity of her later works.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 5 Sep 2014
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Superb!
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Night and Day (Oxford World's Classics)
Night and Day (Oxford World's Classics) by Virginia Woolf (Paperback - 29 Jan 2009)
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