This novel takes place over the course of a single day as a long married couple plans an afternoon event, while the wife hopes to help fend off an alluring woman who seems interested in her husband.
This is Virginia Woolf’s last completed novel, which she finished in a final draft form a few weeks before she died in 1941, at least according to the brief forward by Leonard Woolf. This book has an interesting and very light touch, compared other of her work (Orlando, Night and Day) and is quite subtle in its execution. As the book moves on and one into the day portrayed in the narrative, the threads between narration and the plot and the characters’ various minds slowly unravels.
When I read Mrs. Dalloway, I feel the narrative voice in that book as a pervasive and invasive camera that can float from character to character, moving through their exterior and interior selves as they move through the events in the story. I think the same is happening here, but the camera is even more sensitive and can break through the very fabric of reality to give a more impressionistic view of not only the characters, but the setting, the air, the weather, everything.
The novel also takes on multiple forms of narrative and really picks up the metaphor of being a stage play as various scenes play out as if a drama, with tiny moments represent those in-between stages. This part most reminds me of the various dramatic scenes from Moby Dick, that allow a kind of emotional and narrative distance from the events of the plot.