“What is the meaning of life? That was all- a simple question; one that tended to close in on one with years, the great revelation had never come. The great revelation perhaps never did come. Instead, there were little daily miracles, illuminations, matches struck unexpectedly in the dark; here was one.”
In the summer, a family travels to a house on the top of a hill with the view of a lighthouse. A woman and her son look out to the lighthouse. He wants to go. Maybe tomorrow she says. And then we sit squarely in that house, waiting patiently as Lily Briscoe paints and Mrs. Ramsay knits and fights with her husband. Paul Rayley and Minta Doyle go for a walk. And the house waits.
It is difficult to describe the surreal imagery that Woolf paints for us. The weather turns and still they do not go to the lighthouse, but the house still waits, through war, through death and then reunion.
“She felt… how life, from being made up of little separate incidents which one lived one by one, became curled and whole like a wave which bore one up with it and threw one down with it, there, with a dash on the beach.”
It is a unique way to tell a story so bound to a single location, when much of its tragedy takes place elsewhere, but Woolf manages to make it seem like the truth is bound solely to the isle of Skye where the little house sits, off the coast of Scotland. Each character shines in their own way, highlighting different paths in life and how each path comes with its own small struggles.
It is a book to be read slowly, savoring its small journeys and bright spots.
“For now she need not think of anybody. She could be herself, by herself. And that was what now she often felt the need of – to think; well not even to think. To be silent; to be alone. All the being and the doing, expansive, glittering, vocal, evaporated; and one shrunk, with a sense of solemnity, to being oneself, a wedge-shaped core of darkness, something invisible to others… and this self having shed its attachments was free for the strangest adventures.”