Mrs. Dalloway is the book to which I refer. The GoodReads summary is quite good, so I am going to steal it here:
Heralded as Virginia Woolf's greatest novel, this is a vivid portrait of a single day in a woman's life. When we meet her, Mrs. Clarissa Dalloway is preoccupied with the last-minute details of party preparation while in her mind she is something much more than a perfect society hostess. As she readies her house, she is flooded with remembrances of faraway times. And, met with the realities of the present, Clarissa reexamines the choices that brought her there, hesitantly looking ahead to the unfamiliar work of growing old.This is mostly true as a summary, except that we are not only in Mrs. Dalloway's head, we are also in the heads of other people around her: her husband, Richard Dalloway, who loves his wife completely but cannot tell her so; her former flame, Peter Walsh, who hasn't quite gotten over Clarissa's rejection of him years ago; Septimus Smith, suffering from PTSD and desperate to escape from his doctor. There are so many loosely (and tightly) connected people populating this book. I really love that premise, the idea that one person can have a huge impact on someone else without really knowing. I also really enjoy knowing what is going on inside someone's head in addition to what they say out loud, because the two things so often are not the same.
So, really, when I think about this book in theory, I really liked it. I like everything Virginia Woolf was trying to do here. I enjoy leaping from one character's mind to another, from one subject to another, and from present to past. I also really enjoyed Woolf's writing. So much so that I don't think I will do her books as audio any more, but in print, so that I can sit and savor the words she has chosen to describe her story.
I did not love this book, though, and I am unsure of why, exactly. Perhaps it was the audiobook. I have found that when you are following along with stream-of-consciousness in a book, it is easy for your mind to lapse into its own stream of consciousness, and then you find that you have missed out somewhere. Also, when you switch from one character's mind to another while with the same narrator, it can be hard to follow and know exactly who is thinking what.
That said, I feel like this is the sort of book I WOULD like, if I were in the right mood and had it in print form. For example, it is a cold and rainy day outside today and I feel like getting cozy on my sofa with some red wine and Mrs. Dalloway would be an excellent way to spend the afternoon, if I had not just finished the book in a different format.
I don't think this review is very helpful. I apologize for that - I have given you really no information at all about plot and characters and pacing. But there isn't really much plot. It's a lot of thinking by different characters, and I did really enjoy that. I do feel my fear of Woolf was fair, though - this book wasn't exactly intimidating to read, but Woolf is clearly very intelligent and an amazing writer and I think her books deserve and warrant a lot of attention because of all the nuance, so if you plan to read her - be ready!