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Promises more than it delivers
on 19 May 2011
I usually find the Pulitzer Prize to be a much better indication of quality than the Booker, and this winner from 1999 doesn't alter my opinion. It is an enjoyable read, written in a style reminiscent of Virginia Woolf, whose Mrs Dalloway provides both the inspiration and the theme.
But about halfway through this relatively short book I began to feel there was something lacking - what's the story here? Where's it going? In the end it seems the author wanted to write about the sadness of Virginia Woolf's life and of life in general, and in particular the sadness of death.
Each of the three women (Mrs Woolf being the first) whose lives, at three different periods of the twentieth century, are linked by the novel Mrs Dalloway, feels dissatisfied with her life. Each of them contemplates suicide and the idea of loving another woman. Homosexuality is a major theme here, though not in a way that might put off heterosexual readers.
While initially I thought the writing excellent, after a while I began to find the style repetitive and a little tedious. So not a bad read, but not great.