It's September, which means The Classics Club has another meme question for us to answer. And we have this one in the bag. Here's what we're supposed to do:
Pick a classic someone else in the club has read from our big review list. Link to their review and offer a quote from their post describing their reaction to the book. What about their post makes you excited to read that classic in particular?
As soon as we saw this, we knew exactly which review to choose. It's a review that really stood out the first time we read it, for both its enthusiasm and the wide range of details it managed to cover without losing steam or becoming boring. It's a review that made us really look forward to reading the book it discussed, no small feat considering this is a book we're more than slightly intimidated by. It's Emily's review of Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf over at Reading While Female.
So what do we like about this review and why does it make us want to read Woolf? We like how it is specific, but not too specific. There is thread of enthusiasm and love for the book running through it and Emily offers just the right amount of details to support it. We understand why she loved the book: she offers enough examples and explanations for it to make sense. She talks about the characterization, the style, the themes and it's never just a vague pronouncement - 'These elements were good." - but always an explanation of why these elements worked, how they complemented each other, and what effects they produced on the reader. At the same time, it's not too detailed or spoiler-y. You don't feel like now you know everything about the book and there's no point in reading it. You feel like you were given a taste of the book and now you want more, which is very impressive considering the fact that the review doesn't contain a single sentence from Mrs. Dalloway. (Confession: a lot of reviews sell us on the books they discuss mostly through their Favorite Quotes section.)
Another thing that runs through this review and makes us trust the recommendation is the impression that the reviewer knows stuff, that their opinions are not only personal, but also well informed. (And this is something more Classic Club members share.) For example, we like the way Emily discusses some of the problematic aspects of this book as well (like the depiction of working-class characters). She does it by mentioning the general background (the problems modernism and early feminism have re: minorities and class), but also giving her own opinion on this particular book. It's a valuable insight we got from reading that post.
Okay, so this obviously turned into us reviewing a review and fangirling over it at that. Perhaps this was not entirely the point of the question, but this is what made us want to read this book. We will now end with a favorite quote and hope it will convince you to read the review and read Mrs. Dalloway:
Mrs. Dalloway is often hailed as one of the modern classics, and after reading it I can absolutely understand why. Woolf's use of style and structure serve to paint a picture of a woman, a truly human woman, complete with flaws and strengths, full of new hopes and failed dreams, and to show the people who come into contact with her throughout the course of a day. Despite the high literary style, it feels honest and uncontrived. The characters feel familiar, like the people you meet every day, and the feelings and thoughts they have could very well be your own. It is a beautiful, luminous, haunting book that will only improve upon rereading. I had a lot of expectations going in to this reading, and I am happy to say that Mrs. Dalloway exceeded them all.
Go read the rest here.