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a lyrical family story
on 10 February 2002
To the Lighthouse is Virginia Woolf's fifth novel and one of her most widely read. In three parts, it tells the story of the Ramsay family before and after the First World War: The first one describes a September day spent by the family and some of their friends on the Isle of Skye. The second part deals with the change in the holiday residence and the gradual decline of the house in the following ten years as well as with the life and the fate of the family members. In the last part, Woolf tells us how Mr. Ramsay and two of his children come back after the long absence and how the journey to the lighthouse promised ten years ago finally takes place.
With her usual gift of understanding and reflecting people's thoughts and feelings, fears and longings, griefs and joys, Virginia Woolf steps into the background and leaves it to the characters' reflections to tell the story of their life in an astonishing and beautifully lyrical way.
We read about childhood, marriage, loss and death, grief and love, but also about British society and patriarchal family values during the transition from Victorianism to the Modern times.
I really enjoyed reading To the Lighthouse, because Virginia Woolf's knows, like nobody else, how to combine the thematic challenges she sets herself with a beautiful fluent and lyrical style. What is striking is the identification of the author with the inner state of her characters. You just can't stop reading and deeply regret having reached the final page of the novel.