The most recent phase of #Woofalong, taking place throughout July and August was the biography section. I am so pleased that at the end of eight months of #Woolfalong, there are still other people joining in. Thank you everyone for your enthusiasm.
The choices for readers was quite varied. Two Woolf novels – although called biographies by Woolf are of course Orlando and Flush. I read Orlando last year for a book group I was then attending. It was that book really, which set me off on my quest to know Virginia Woolf better, read much more of her work, and learn to appreciate her brilliance. #Woolfalong has done all of that for me, although I still feel something of a beginner with Woolf – even having read a few more books and with only two phases of #Woolfalong to go. So I opted to read Flush – and it was an absolute joy of a book, which I know I will read again one day. I also read Virginia Woolf; a short biography by Nigel Nicolson, son of Vita Sackville West, and at the time of writing I am reading Winifred Holtby’s critical memoir of Virginia Woolf – which I believe is the only work of biography written during Virginia Woolf’s lifetime. I have two more books which I could have read for phase four but which I haven’t managed to fit in yet; Recollections of Virginia Woolf and A Marriage of True Minds. I would like to think I might read them by the end of the year – but as I still have one volume of stories left over from phase three – don’t hold your breath.
Helen from She reads novels read Flush, a book she had looked forward to reading for a long time, she wasn’t disappointed, calling it a creative combination of fiction and non-fiction. Valarie from The London Particular described reading Flush as an ecstatic reading experience, I definitely agree with that.
Karen from Kaggsy’s Bookish Ramblings re-read Orlando, which she calls a brave book for its time, saying that ‘the vision of an evolving England is a vivid and wonderful one’.
Karen also shared her thoughts on Flush. which she read at the beginning of 2015. Karen then further delighted me with her review of Recollections of Virginia Woolf – Edited by Joan Russell, a book I have since bought, and may even get time to start this final week of August. Liz from Adventures in reading, writing and working from home, has also been reading Recollections, and I know will be reviewing it soon.
Caroline from Bookword read Orlando, which she admits to not especially enjoying even on a second reading, though Caroline finds a lot to admire in it, including Woolf’s wit and love of words. David from David’s Book World also read Orlando – Calling it sublime on Twitter. In his review David discusses how Woolf creates a landscape of time.Ladyfancifull first read Orlando when she was in her teens, and enjoyed re-reading it for #Woolfalong.
An alternative biography by Virginia Woolf – and which I had neglected to put on my original list, was that of Roger Fry, which Woolf published in 1940, just a year before her death. I thought I had seen someone talking about reading this for #Woolfalong, but searching on Twitter yielded no results, so perhaps I dreamt it. If it was you, and I have missed you out – shout.
Of course there have been a good number of biographies written about Virginia Woolf, and these were perfect for phase 4 too. Hermione Lee’s biography is generally thought very highly of, but I didn’t have a copy, and not being very good at reading huge books of non-fiction (I begin to crave a novel around 300 pages in) – I opted for Nigel Nicolson’s very slim biography which I had read before, but I found a lot in it that I hadn’t picked out the first time – good and bad. Mary B – (Twitter) also read the Nicolson biography, giving it four stars and she said it made her want to read more for #Woolfalong – which I was delighted to hear.
O from Behold the stars has read the biography of Virginia Woolf by Quentin Bell, in which O tells us that Bell offers a simple straight narrative to Virginia Woolf’s life – which frankly makes it appeal to me immediately.
Audrey from Booksasfood read a book called Virginia Woolf and the Reverats, edited by William Pryor, which takes readers inside the friendship between Woolf and the Reverat family. This book would also fit into phase 5 – so I especially wanted to tell you all about it.
As ever if your review hasn’t been posted yet or I have missed you – please let me know and I will do my best to edit you in.
It has been great seeing all these thoughts on such a variety of books. Roll on phase 5. Phase 5 begins on September 1st – the theme non-fiction written by Virginia Woolf. Diaries, letters, essays – there are plenty to choose from. I have three books already set aside – unsure if I will get to them all. I have actually read A Room of One’s Own last year, but I’m anxious to get to Three Guineas and A Writer’s Diary.