Review 1310: Classics Club Spin Review! To the Lighthouse

Cover from To the LighthouseWhen the Classics Club Spin chose To the Lighthouse for me from my list, I wasn’t sure how pleased I was. I first read it in college and remembered very little of it except that it wasn’t my favorite. On the other hand, our tastes change as we grow, and I had enjoyed Mrs. Dalloway.

The novel is divided into three sections. The first is about a day in the life of the Ramsey family, as they vacation on the Isle of Skye with their friends. The second is about the house and the passage of time. The third takes place there again ten or eleven years later.

Young James Ramsey has been begging for a trip the next day to the lighthouse, and both he and Mrs. Ramsey are irritated with Mr. Ramsey for so assuredly stating that the weather will be too stormy. The novel revolves around the presence of Mrs. Ramsey, a beautiful, quiet, assured mother of eight. Although we briefly see things from other characters’ points of view, the most prevalent are those of Mrs. Ramsey and of Lily Briscoe, a painter.

Nothing much happens in this part of the novel. The family doesn’t go to the lighthouse; Lily has difficulty with her painting, and although she has insight during dinner, she doesn’t finish it; Minta loses her brooch on the beach and accepts a proposal from Paul; Lily resists Mrs. Ramsey’s old-fashioned idea that she must marry and her attempts to pair her off with William Bankes. The action of the novel isn’t really the point, though, it’s the complex relationships between friends and family.

At times the narrative is a little hard to follow, because Woolf switches time and pronouns so that you don’t always know whether something takes place in the novel’s present or past or who is being referred to. The novel is impressionistic in its approach, both in its descriptions of characters’ thoughts and of the settings. Over everything is the strong presence of Mrs. Ramsey.

Time passes, the war intervenes, and the family does not return for more than 10 years. When it does, things have changed.

I enjoyed reading this novel, although I’m sure I missed a lot. I think it could be food for study and contemplation, but I did not have time to do so.

Related Posts

Mrs. Dalloway

The Hours

The Sea



17 thoughts on “Review 1310: Classics Club Spin Review! To the Lighthouse

  1. Cleo @ Classical Carousel January 29, 2019 / 5:10 pm

    This one is by far my favourite Woolf. Stream of consciousness writing is not my favourite but for some reason this novel grabbed me. It’s almost as if you have to FEEL it instead of read it. Ah, just reading your review makes me want to read it again. Just lovely!

  2. Jane January 31, 2019 / 6:39 am

    I’d like to read this again too, I think it,s definitely one that will change with every reading.

  3. WordsAndPeace January 31, 2019 / 10:51 am

    Thanks. It’s on my list. I couldn’t get into Mrs Dalloway when I tried a few years ago. But I plan to try again, and I hope I can enjoy this one. Nice and encouraging review!

    • whatmeread January 31, 2019 / 11:00 am

      I read The Hours by Michael Cunningham before Mrs. Dalloway, and I think that helped.

  4. Anne Bennett January 31, 2019 / 5:18 pm

    After my experience with The Side Sargasso Sea, I am not sure I could handle another confusing book like this one sounds. It is on my Classics list, though, so maybe some day…. My review of Wide Sargasso Sea,

    • whatmeread January 31, 2019 / 5:21 pm

      I liked Wide Sargasso Sea, so maybe I’m not the one to ask.

  5. piningforthewest February 2, 2019 / 2:25 pm

    I read this one a few years ago and was rather underwhelmed by it. I really didn’t like the writing style.

  6. booksbythecup February 5, 2019 / 7:17 am

    This book was recommended to me one year by a Instagram book buddy but since I borrowed it from the library I didn’t get a chance to read it. Fast forward to Mrs Dalloway and I had a hard time with that one. There were parts I thought beautiful but I think overall I missed a lot with the stream of consciousness and wish I had someone with more experience with Woolf to discuss it with.

    So when I was at the bookstore last year I decided to pick up To The Lighthouse and I’m still a little nervous. But after reading your review I feel more prepared to take it on but giving my attention to the relationships. Thank you for giving me something to look forward to.

    • whatmeread February 5, 2019 / 10:27 am

      Woolf doesn’t seem like full-throttled stream of consciousness to me. Try Faulkner sometime!

      • booksbythecup February 5, 2019 / 10:29 am

        Oh no! I have one Faulkner on my shelf. I might have to give it away now 😂🙈

      • whatmeread February 5, 2019 / 10:45 am

        Ha ha ha! Depends on what it is, but look out for The Sound and the Fury or As I Lay Dying!

      • booksbythecup February 5, 2019 / 1:04 pm

        It’s Light in August….

      • whatmeread February 5, 2019 / 1:14 pm

        I’m pretty sure I read that a long time ago, but I don’t remember it very well, so I’m not sure if it is written in stream of consciousness or not.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.