Review: Orlando – Virginia Woolf

orlandoI loved Mrs Dalloway when I read it a few years ago, but I did say it was a book that I would have to reread to appreciate. Because of that I waited, 5 years, before picking up any more of Woolf’s work and… I’m so glad I waited.

Orlando is a book that requires patience. It’s a book that required me to slow down my reading to fully bask in the beauty that it is. I think having a few more years on me also helped comprehend and appreciate her grasp and use of language. She is a genius. I love her. This book has changed me, it has changed how I will read from now on. I just cannot verbalise how amazing it is.

I actually read this twice; the second time straight after the first because I didn’t feel like I took enough out of it the first time around. I read a different edition (I have a mass market paperback sized edition which isn’t nearly as pretty) and actually annotated it – this is a huge thing, I hate to write in a book but it was beautiful to do that. To just fully appreciate her writing and put my own thoughts in the margins, highlighting the bits that stood out to me. A second read made me notice how vividly she describes colours and textures; the first chapter/section has far too many references to the colour green but never once is it repetitive and God – this woman!

Reading this book once is not enough to take everything away from it; it’s just so complex. I know that I can’t write about it and do it justice. I will however, briefly gloss over the general gist; Orlando begins the novel as a man (He – for there could be no doubt of his sex) in Elizabethan England; by the end, Orlando is a married woman in the 1920s.

It is just sublime, there are no other words for it.  The experience I had reading this was transformative; it is already changing how I approach books and what I take away from them. I will reread it again in future and make further notes with a different colour, for sure as it is – undoubtedly – a book that with every reading I will take more away from. Read it. 5/5.