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Night and Day

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Katharine Hilbery is beautiful and privileged, but uncertain of her future. She must choose between becoming engaged to the oddly prosaic poet William Rodney, and her dangerous attraction to the passionate Ralph Denham. As she struggles to decide, the lives of two other women - women's rights activist Mary Datchet and Katharine's mother, Margaret, struggling to weave toget Katharine Hilbery is beautiful and privileged, but uncertain of her future. She must choose between becoming engaged to the oddly prosaic poet William Rodney, and her dangerous attraction to the passionate Ralph Denham. As she struggles to decide, the lives of two other women - women's rights activist Mary Datchet and Katharine's mother, Margaret, struggling to weave together the documents, events and memories of her own father's life into a biography - impinge on hers with unexpected and intriguing consequences. Virginia Woolf's delicate second novel is both a love story and a social comedy, yet it also subtly undermines these traditions, questioning a woman's role and the very nature of experience.


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Katharine Hilbery is beautiful and privileged, but uncertain of her future. She must choose between becoming engaged to the oddly prosaic poet William Rodney, and her dangerous attraction to the passionate Ralph Denham. As she struggles to decide, the lives of two other women - women's rights activist Mary Datchet and Katharine's mother, Margaret, struggling to weave toget Katharine Hilbery is beautiful and privileged, but uncertain of her future. She must choose between becoming engaged to the oddly prosaic poet William Rodney, and her dangerous attraction to the passionate Ralph Denham. As she struggles to decide, the lives of two other women - women's rights activist Mary Datchet and Katharine's mother, Margaret, struggling to weave together the documents, events and memories of her own father's life into a biography - impinge on hers with unexpected and intriguing consequences. Virginia Woolf's delicate second novel is both a love story and a social comedy, yet it also subtly undermines these traditions, questioning a woman's role and the very nature of experience.

30 review for Night and Day

  1. 4 out of 5

    Fionnuala

    Night and Day indeed! He: would like to write verses comparing her eyes to the stars. She: would like to take a compass and a ruler and measure the distance between the stars. He: believes women can only feel and not reason. She: believes she must renounce a life of reason to satisfy his feelings. There are several versions of He and She in this book as if Woolf set out to analyse men and women in general and offer us examples, some very diametrically opposed, as in the example above, and some hardly Night and Day indeed! He: would like to write verses comparing her eyes to the stars. She: would like to take a compass and a ruler and measure the distance between the stars. He: believes women can only feel and not reason. She: believes she must renounce a life of reason to satisfy his feelings. There are several versions of He and She in this book as if Woolf set out to analyse men and women in general and offer us examples, some very diametrically opposed, as in the example above, and some hardly at all. Surprisingly, it is between the portraits of the women that there is the most opposition; the men offer less variation of type. This fits with the period in which the book seems to be set, the early decades of the twentieth century; there are horses and carriages but also motor omnibuses, a focus on the suffragette movement yet no talk of war. The suffragette movement offered women possibilities for change, so alongside the portrait of the woman who is eager to please, happy to be loved and eager to found a family, we get the portrait of the woman who has made the the cause of humanity her life’s work, and also the woman who is seeking freedom simply to be by herself, measuring the stars. In the middle ground of this novel two of the characters stand alone, one male (not the He of the first paragraph) and one female, and they are almost interchangeable: they differ in outward aspects of course but when it comes to thinking and feeling, they overlap, both searching for the forbidden freedom to live without obligation or duty. And surprisingly, it is the She of the pair who has the most difficulty in the area of ‘feeling’. Woolf takes a contrary view to the usual one that states that men cannot access their emotions because their upbringing trains them not to, and instead points out how a woman’s upbringing can make her into an automaton in the area of the emotional, acting as is expected of her without accessing what she truly feels, as if her sentient self is locked inside the hard shell of her corset. I would hazard that the encounter between these two characters had never before been written in fiction. He had a strange sensation that he was both lighthouse and bird; he was steadfast and brilliant; and at the same time he was whirled, with all other things, senseless against the glass. She could not reduce her vision to words, since it was no single shape coloured upon the dark, but rather a general excitement, an atmosphere, which, when she tried to visualise it, took form as a wind scouring the flanks of northern hills, and flashing light upon cornfields and pools. This is Woolf’s longest novel at well over five hundred pages so the analysis of the characters is quite in-depth and there are plenty of plot twists, some more melodramatic than we are used to finding in Woolf. Her mission in Night and Day was to prove that she could write a traditional novel; she believed that she couldn’t begin to dismantle what she hadn’t yet mastered, in a similar way to an artist who first learns drawing and perspective before leaving them behind in favour of experimentation. This is also the novel that is principally responsible for Woolf’s reputation for being a snob. Katherine Mansfield maintained that it ‘reeked of intellectual snobbery’; other critics questioned the absence of any mention of the war or the wider world even though it was written during the war. One of the characters is the granddaughter of a famous poet and lives in perfect privilege. There are minute descriptions of the beautiful interior of her home, and some descriptions of houses belonging to members of other social classes as well: one memorable one describes her visit to a middle-class home where she cringes inwardly at the tasteless wallpaper and ornaments. But I trusted Woolf here, and was not surprised that it was from that very middle-class home that the most interesting character springs, or that the poet's granddaughter is eventually able to see past her petty prejudice and recognise the ferment of intellectual curiosity that fizzes forth from that shabby house. The novel was written during a period when Woolf was in very fragile health, so it is perhaps not surprising that she didn’t mention the war. In any case, her next book, Jacob's Room, would address WWI from her own unique angle.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Dolors

    London, Early 20thC. Four characters; two men and two women, estranged by their social status but tightly knotted by the invisible strings of their restrained yearnings feature the storyline of this novel. More traditional in style and form than Woolf’s later and more exploratory works, Night and Day, as the title implies, juxtaposes the struggles of a younger generation to disengage from the corseted legacy of the Victorian era and to find a place in the shifting tides of impending modernity. Th London, Early 20thC. Four characters; two men and two women, estranged by their social status but tightly knotted by the invisible strings of their restrained yearnings feature the storyline of this novel. More traditional in style and form than Woolf’s later and more exploratory works, Night and Day, as the title implies, juxtaposes the struggles of a younger generation to disengage from the corseted legacy of the Victorian era and to find a place in the shifting tides of impending modernity. The result could have easily emerged as a hybrid between a novel of manners and a romantic comedy, but in Woolf’s hands it becomes an introspective meditation on the search of identity, the fluctuating whims versus the rational expectations of human beings, of the trade-off between alienated solitude and individual freedom and a call into question of the social conventions regarding marriage and the emancipation of women. The female protagonists in Night and Day, Katharine and Mary, wish to be liberated from the imposed roles attached to their gender and, in their particular circumstances, they both ponder on the importance of having a professional career to achieve such goal, a theme that will be further developed in A Room of One’s Own, and subsequently in To the Lighthouse . As a matter of fact, there is literal association between the characters’ fleeting emotions and the flashing beams of a lighthouse that recurs throughout the text and bespeaks of sporadic moments of vision in which man and woman communicate from equal to equal through intuition rather than through verbal expression. Woolf’s prose conquers the unconquerable. Her ability to evoke the solidness of London in all its shapes, smells and sounds is simply magisterial: the Strand shrouded in misty darkness, the smoldering warmth of Mary’s fireplace, the small window of Ralph’s alcove at the top of a hill with the sparkling city sprawled out underneath, the twittering of docile sparrows that delights impromptu strollers… The precision of these static images contrasts with the fluidity of the river Thames, location where Ralph and Katharine speak freely, ignoring the constraints ascribed to their sex, role or class, giving substance to silent conversations, to things left unsaid. The characters’ inner life is minutely dissected and probed into, defying the tedium of time and the romantic idealization of the object of one’s desires until it becomes the truncal aspect of the story as it approaches a climatic, if also conventional ending. Such deliberations reminded me of D.H. Lawrence’s controversial novels, although physical intimacy is not as overtly discussed in this book. Not that it needs to be. Woolf’s prose is delectable; it flows with unfeigned sophistication, flickering with flashes of subtle irony. Her unrestrained voice calls out to the melancholic disposition of a person trapped in her own mind, a person whose poetic vision will triumph over the external hindrances of reality. It transfigures shady “dailiness” into blinding cascades of light, where words become the one and only materialization of dreams, even the ones you never had.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Violet wells

    One way of describing Night and Day might be a comedy of manners without the comedy. Much of the novel takes place in a Victorian drawing room. Katherine Mansfield famously took exception to Woolf’s utter disregard of the war that had recently taken place. And it’s true there’s something distasteful about the relentless vivisection of nuanced sexual emotion that occupies much of this novel. Like Lawrence but without his vitality and flaming insights. It’s difficult to place exactly when this nov One way of describing Night and Day might be a comedy of manners without the comedy. Much of the novel takes place in a Victorian drawing room. Katherine Mansfield famously took exception to Woolf’s utter disregard of the war that had recently taken place. And it’s true there’s something distasteful about the relentless vivisection of nuanced sexual emotion that occupies much of this novel. Like Lawrence but without his vitality and flaming insights. It’s difficult to place exactly when this novel is set. There are allusions to the suffragettes but no mention of the war which is a jarring contradiction. It’s as if Woolf is warping historical context for her own artistic ends. Nothing wrong with that if the end product is successful but it just isn’t here. At times the various characters seem to be living in different centuries. The house in which Katherine, the heroine, lives is Woolf’s childhood home which would place it in the late 19th century. It’s apparently a portrait of her sister Vanessa but at this time in her life Vanessa was already ripping to shreds many of the Victorian social constraints Katherine struggles with. What Woolf is attempting to do is show through the divergence of generational social mores the transition from the Victorian to the Edwardian age, something Forster was already doing with much more subtlety. There’s little of Forster’s playful disregard for realism, his mischievous lightness of touch here. This is porridge in comparison. Katherine has two choices for a husband. William, a slave to convention and appearances and Ralph, the penniless idealist who tends to fall in love with creations of his imagination rather than flesh and blood women. Not much of a choice, in other words. It was odd to trawl through nearly 500 pages of Woolf writing about romantic sexual feeling considering how little interest she was to take in it in later life, both in literary and personal terms. I’d say she was wise to drop it as a principal theme of her writing. It’s also interesting how dismissive she was of the novel’s suffragette. There’s barely any indication in this novel that Virginia would go on to write the ground-breaking novels that followed. She had a breakdown after finishing The Voyage Out, and perhaps fearing she had ventured too far into perilous parts of her mind played it safe with this one. True, it’s a more controlled novel than her debut but essentially, it’s hard to view it as anything but much ado about next to nothing. It’s a novel the interfering Victorian aunt in this novel probably wouldn’t disapprove of. Perhaps an act of clearing out her closet and all its Victorian appendages. Katherine Mansfield did her an invaluable favour by dismissing it as decorous. It stung her into changing her entire perspective.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Cheryl

    Every now and then, when you think you’re having a busy and difficult week, you come across the book. There is an indescribable feeling you get, once you’ve come into contact with such words blended with adroitness, words which add measure to the beat of human thought through a scheme of scenes. How else does one describe the sensation one gets from a book whose author takes such a conventional story, adds psychological potency through inner thought narrative, and makes one fall in love with the Every now and then, when you think you’re having a busy and difficult week, you come across the book. There is an indescribable feeling you get, once you’ve come into contact with such words blended with adroitness, words which add measure to the beat of human thought through a scheme of scenes. How else does one describe the sensation one gets from a book whose author takes such a conventional story, adds psychological potency through inner thought narrative, and makes one fall in love with the English novel? It is the giddy you feel, when you’re reading about fully fleshed characters (particularly female characters of the classic novel) with diversity of mind and personality, when you can relate to a main character so wholeheartedly, even after thinking that you would most relate to her friend. It is the relief that comes not with the novel’s beginning or ending, but with what happens in between. Here, perfect sentences give way to perfect sequence and humdrum scenes turn delightful with each passing remark, each carefully thought out dialogue, for love is not about when it happens but how it happens, marriage is an idea considered, not a mere happenstance, and women are not just decorative beings, but partners, with intellectual capabilities. Are the great ones ever really about the plot alone, or is a great book a compound of narrative elements? I’m still unsure what the plot was in Proust’s Swann's Way, or where Dostoyevsky really intended on meandering in The Brothers Karamazov, but like both of these books, Night and Day has left an imprint upon my reading conscience and if I were to attempt a reason, I would attribute this to the psychological adeptness of all three books. However, a much more simple answer would be this: they gave me what I needed when I most needed it, one word spoke more than a sentence. Woolf wrote this on her sick bed (where she battled depression), for "one half hour a day" (according to The Letters of Virginia Woolf), after she published The Voyage Out, and three years later, we were blessed with this masterpiece. This sentence from the novel sums it up with more fluidity than I can: Moments, fragments, a second of vision, and then the flying waters, the winds dissipating and dissolving; then, too, the recollection from chaos, the return of security, the earth firm, superb and brilliant in the sun.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Petra X living life blissfully,not through books!

    (With apologies to Cole Porter) Night and day you are the one Only you beneath the moon or under the sun Whether near to me or far it's no matter I struggle to get through you. By my bedside, in the kitchen I'm reading you Day and night, night and day. Why is it so that this determination to finish you Nags at me where ever I go In the roaring traffic's boom, in the silence of my lonely room I'm gritting my teeth and pressing on with you Night and day, day and night. Under the duvet, next to the hob, pulled (With apologies to Cole Porter) Night and day you are the one Only you beneath the moon or under the sun Whether near to me or far it's no matter I struggle to get through you. By my bedside, in the kitchen I'm reading you Day and night, night and day. Why is it so that this determination to finish you Nags at me where ever I go In the roaring traffic's boom, in the silence of my lonely room I'm gritting my teeth and pressing on with you Night and day, day and night. Under the duvet, next to the hob, pulled out of my purse, There's oh such an annoying yearning burning to finish you And this torment won't be through Till I'm done with you Day and night, night and day Let's put it this way, Harlequin does it better. Who cares about 'good' writing when the story is crap, when the characterisations are stupid - men sighing and moaning around the place like lovesick pubescent girls having a crush on a boy in fourth form? How this has passed as a classic, as literature has to rest on Woolf's membership of the much-vaunted (but I've never been able to discern why) Bloomsbury Set - upperclass twits who lived off family money, wrote, painted, screwed whatever moved and made all sorts of 'modern' political pronouncements that they had no intention of ever following themselves. As does Woolf herself, displaying as it does her fake political preoccupations. She espouses feminism and work, but not for her and her friends who take tea (prepared by maids) endlessly. Those who work are to be pitied, "Mary was 25 but looked older as she was earning her own living." For one of our heroines, voluntary work proves too arduous when there are romantic problems to be pondered. Even the men give up work for country existence of the well-off or dabble at writing, even if they aren't very good at it. Snobbery abounds. "You may come from the oldest family in Devonshire but that is no reason why you can't be seen talking to me." That from one of the leisured classes. And worse, it goes on for 600 pages. Harlequin's are done in just about half that. (view spoiler)[Truth be told, I've never read a Harlequin and refuse to even stock them. But I have seen them in the supermarket :-) (hide spoiler)]

  6. 4 out of 5

    Cecily

    “Her words... were set down as gently and cautiously and exactly as the feet of a Persian cat stepping among china ornaments.” Woolf, writing about Katherine, could just as easily have been describing her own novel. Choices - What does it mean to be a woman today? Are love and marriage inextricably linked - and what sort of love: platonic, passionate, or both? Can men and women be intimate friends without being sexually intimate, or sexually intimate with someone they are not married to? (When Har “Her words... were set down as gently and cautiously and exactly as the feet of a Persian cat stepping among china ornaments.” Woolf, writing about Katherine, could just as easily have been describing her own novel. Choices - What does it mean to be a woman today? Are love and marriage inextricably linked - and what sort of love: platonic, passionate, or both? Can men and women be intimate friends without being sexually intimate, or sexually intimate with someone they are not married to? (When Harry Met Sally came to mind.) “To be engaged to marry some one with whom you are not in love is an inevitable step in a world where the existence of passion is only a traveller’s story brought from the heart of deep forests and told so rarely that wise people doubt whether the story can be true.” Where do career ambitions fit? Does wedlock confine us to conventionality and stymie opportunities outside the home? Must wives submit to their husbands (as exhorted in Ephesians 5:2)? What about less orthodox relationships? How independent can a single woman be? This was written, and mostly set, in London, almost exactly a century ago, at a time of great social upheaval and uncertainty. The questions the characters agonise over are still valid, though the answers slightly different today. Although war isn’t even hinted it, this was written during WW1 and finished days after the Armistice in November 1918. Queen Victoria had died less than twenty years earlier, (some) women aged 30 and over had been given the vote in February 1918, and the importance of religion was something that could be questioned, gently. In this climate of shifting social mores, five single people in their late twenties and early thirties, in overlapping (but not equal) social circles, consider their futures. All are crippled by indecision. Uncertainty about how, when, why, who, and whether to marry, how they feel about the changing roles of men and women, issues of independence versus family obligations (as provider, or as wife and possible mother), the appeal of or need to work, and literature versus science (specifically, the secret vice of “unwomanly” maths and astronomy). “No work can equal in importance, or be so exciting as, the work of making other people do what you want them to do.” Then again, that could include the “work” of raising a child. Night and Day, Inner and Outer “A feeling of contempt and liking combine very naturally in the mind of one to whom another has just spoken unpremeditatedly, revealing rather more of his private feelings than he intended to reveal.” The title has no direct bearing on the story, but is indicative of the contrasts within: platonic versus passionate love, career and independence versus commitment and family, town versus country, moneyed versus not, and past versus future. There is a clear narrative, but much is revealed through inner thoughts (though Mrs Hilberry has a natural antipathy to introspection and Ralph Denham has no use for dreams). These insights are witty, sometimes caustic, and invariably enlightening - though more so to the reader than the person concerned. Outer actions are not necessarily clearly correlated with inner ideals. Proxies for Passion Although they are broad-minded for the period (a single woman visiting a man in his rooms at night arouses no angst, and cohabitation and three-way relationships are mooted), statues, gloves, handbag contents, flowers, and flames are also used as proxies for real feelings. Outer manifestations are sometimes veiled. Some passages were strongly reminiscent of DH Lawrence: Examples hidden for brevity; no plot spoilers. (view spoiler)[ • “The very trees and the green merging into the blue distance became symbols of the vast external world which recks so little of the happiness, of the marriages or deaths of individuals… When he saw Katharine among the orchids, her beauty strangely emphasized by the fantastic plants, which seemed to peer and gape at her from striped hoods and fleshy throats, his ardor for botany waned, and a more complex feeling replaced it. She fell silent. The orchids seemed to suggest absorbing reflections. In defiance of the rules she stretched her ungloved hand and touched one… He looked at her taking in one strange shape after another with the contemplative, considering gaze of a person who sees not exactly what is before him, but gropes in regions that lie beyond it… Her still look, standing among the orchids in that hot atmosphere, strangely illustrated some scene that he had imagined in his room at home.” • “So secure did she feel with these silent shapes that she almost yielded to an impulse to say ‘I am in love with you’ aloud. The presence of this immense and enduring beauty [the Elgin Marbles] made her almost alarmingly conscious of her desire, and at the same time proud of a feeling which did not display anything like the same proportions when she was going about her daily work.” • "But he persuaded her into a broken statement, beautiful to him, charged with extreme excitement as she spoke of the dark red fire, and the smoke twined round it, making him feel that he had stepped over the threshold into the faintly lit vastness of another mind, stirring with shapes, so large, so dim, unveiling themselves only in flashes, and moving away again into the darkness, engulfed by it." (hide spoiler)] Biography as Metaphor While the younger generation try to make sense of the future, Mrs Hilberry tries to make sense of the past by writing a biography of her father, a famous poet. She is assisted by her daughter, Katherine, who sees the book as repayment to the world for their privileged position. But it means that, like Titus Groan, who was “suckled on shadows”, much of Katherine’s time is “spent in imagination with the dead”. But then again, perhaps the act of reading this is time spent in imagination with the dead? It is a Sisyphean and disorganised project, with difficult and unresolved decisions about what to include and what to omit, not just in terms of length and relevance, but also of privacy and propriety. The rambling draft includes: “Twenty pages upon her grandfather’s taste in hats, an essay upon contemporary china, a long account of a summer day’s expedition into the country, when they had missed their train, together with fragmentary visions of all sorts of famous men and women, which seemed to be partly imaginary and partly authentic.” Indecision - Theirs and Mine This is carefully, insightfully, and beautifully written (see quotes), but I became increasingly exasperated at the endless overwrought indecision, and even the frequency of popping in for tea began to feel clichéd. People fall in and out of love ludicrously quickly, and yet it’s painfully strung out too. They ponder the meaning and necessity of love, and whether their (current) love object is same as their imagined, idealised version of them: passion is greater in absence than reality. Some wonder about mere happiness or whether to settle for being less unhappy. They also flip-flop decisions about where to live, what job to do, and whether to go for tea. Woolf turned me into Lady Bracknell, as I recalled her comment in The Importance of Being Earnest (see my review here) about Bunbury needing to make up his mind whether he was going to live or to die: “This shilly-shallying with the question is absurd.” Woolf created indecision in me: I loved the first third of this book: exquisite social comedy (comedy is too strong, but I’m not sure of a better word). I enjoyed the second third. But the final third was hugely disappointing: often farcical, with people behind curtains and furniture accidentally hearing crucial information. And then it redeemed itself in the final two or three pages. Hurrah for ambiguity. QUOTES Reading this was often like walking alongside a bubbling brook on a sunny day: sparking prose catching my eye at every turn. The descriptions of place (London, and people’s rooms) are especially immersive. General Quotes Hidden for brevity; no plot spoilers. (view spoiler)[ • “One can’t help believing gentlemen with Roman noses, even if one meets them in omnibuses.” • “He was amused and gratified to find that he had the power to annoy his oblivious, supercilious hostess, if he could not impress her; though he would have preferred to impress her.” • “There are some books that live... They are young with us, and they grow old with us.” • “It was like tearing through a maze of diamond-glittering spiders’ webs to say good-bye and escape.” • "She pressed her eyeballs until they struck stars and suns into her darkness. She convinced herself that she was stirring among ashes." • "Why, you're nothing at all without it [marriage]; you're only half alive; using only half your faculties." Said to a woman, of course. • A “Frown of well-simulated annoyance, which presently dissolved in a kind of half-humorous, half-surly shrug, as of a large dog tormented by children who shakes his ears.” • “One of those martyred spirits to whom literature is at once a source of divine joy and of almost intolerable irritation.” • “Mary felt, at last, that she was the centre ganglion of a very fine network of nerves which fell over England, and one of these days, when she touched the heart of the system, would begin feeling and rushing together and emitting their splendid blaze of revolutionary fireworks—for some such metaphor represents what she felt about her work, when her brain had been heated by three hours of application.” • “She was much inclined to sit on into the night, spinning her light fabric of thoughts until she tired of their futility, and went to her mathematics.” • “Never are voices so beautiful as on a winter’s evening, when dusk almost hides the body, and they seem to issue from nothingness with a note of intimacy seldom heard by day.” • “Much as a literary person in like circumstances would begin, absent-mindedly, pulling out volume after volume, so she stepped into the garden in order to have the stars at hand, even though she did not look at them.” • “The first signs of spring, even such as make themselves felt towards the middle of February, not only produce little white and violet flowers in the more sheltered corners of woods and gardens, but bring to birth thoughts and desires comparable to those faintly coloured and sweetly scented petals in the minds of men and women. Lives frozen by age, so far as the present is concerned, to a hard surface, which neither reflects nor yields, at this season become soft and fluid, reflecting the shapes and colours of the present, as well as the shapes and colours of the past. In the case of Mrs. Hilbery, these early spring days were chiefly upsetting inasmuch as they caused a general quickening of her emotional powers, which, as far as the past was concerned, had never suffered much diminution. But in the spring her desire for expression invariably increased. She was haunted by the ghosts of phrases. She gave herself up to a sensual delight in the combinations of words. She sought them in the pages of her favourite authors.” • “For the more she looked into the confusion of lives which, instead of running parallel, had suddenly intersected each other, the more distinctly she seemed to convince herself that there was no other light on them than was shed by this strange illumination, and no other path save the one upon which it threw its beams.” • “She needed nothing that he could give her.” • “He wished to keep this distance between them—the distance which separates the devotee from the image in the shrine.” • “There were ghosts in the room, and one, strangely and sadly, was the ghost of herself.” (hide spoiler)] Edwardian London - Quotes Hidden for brevity; no plot spoilers. (view spoiler)[ • “Breathing raw fog, and in contact with unpolished people who only wanted their share of the pavement.” • “They looked… first at the hard silver moon, stationary among a hurry of little grey-blue clouds, and then down the roofs of London, with all their upright chimneys, and then below them at the empty moonlit pavement of the street, upon which the joint of each paving-stone was clearly marked out.” • “When the traffic thins away, the walker becomes conscious of the moon in the street, as if the curtains of the sky had been drawn apart, and the heaven lay bare, as it does in the country.” • “London, in the first days of spring, has buds that open and flowers that suddenly shake their petals—white, purple, or crimson—in competition with the display in the garden beds, although these city flowers are merely so many doors flung wide in Bond Street and the neighbourhood, inviting you to look at a picture, or hear a symphony, or merely crowd and crush yourself among all sorts of vocal, excitable, brightly coloured human beings. But, all the same, it is no mean rival to the quieter process of vegetable florescence. Whether or not there is a generous motive at the root, a desire to share and impart, or whether the animation is purely that of insensate fervour and friction, the effect, while it lasts, certainly encourages those who are young, and those who are ignorant, to think the world one great bazaar, with banners fluttering and divans heaped with spoils from every quarter of the globe for their delight.” • “The blend of daylight and of lamplight made her an invisible spectator, just as it gave the people who passed her a semi-transparent quality, and left the faces pale ivory ovals in which the eyes alone were dark. They tended the enormous rush of the current—the great flow, the deep stream, the unquenchable tide. She stood unobserved and absorbed, glorying openly in the rapture that had run subterraneously all day.” (hide spoiler)] People Revealed by their Rooms - Quotes Hidden for brevity; no plot spoilers. (view spoiler)[ • “The room of a person [Rodney] who cherishes a great many personal tastes, guarding them from the rough blasts of the public with scrupulous attention.” • “The room, with its combination of luxury and bareness, its silk dressing-gowns and crimson slippers, its shabby carpet and bare walls, had a powerful air of Katharine herself.” • "Cassandra began to take down the books which stood in a row upon the shelf above the bed. In most houses this shelf is the ledge upon which the last relics of religious belief lodge themselves as if, late at night, in the heart of privacy, people, sceptical by day, find solace in sipping one draught of the old charm for such sorrows or perplexities as may steal from their hiding-places in the dark. But there was no hymn-book here. " • “The unsparing light revealed more ugliness than Katharine had seen in one room for a very long time. It was the ugliness of enormous folds of brown material, looped and festooned, of plush curtains, from which depended balls and fringes, partially concealing bookshelves swollen with black school-texts.” (hide spoiler)] Key Characters Hidden for brevity; no plot spoilers. (view spoiler)[There are five main, intertwined protagonists. Katherine Hilberry is very self-contained, something of a loner, yet she is the flame to which the other characters are repeatedly drawn. She is loosely based on Woolf’s sister, Vanessa Bell. She is contrasted with her Lincolnshire cousin, Cassandra Otway, who is younger, but more Victorian. Whereas Katherine is an only child, Cassandra is one of a dozen, and though her father is titled, they are no longer wealthy. “Where Katharine was simple, Cassandra was complex; where Katharine was solid and direct, Cassandra was vague and evasive. In short, they represented very well the manly and the womanly sides of the feminine nature.” The men are Ralph Denham and William Rodney. The former is a young lawyer of “eccentric” hobbies (bulldogs, wildflowers, and heraldry), supporting his widowed mother and siblings. The latter is a stuffier, wealthier (though not hugely successful) writer of plays and poems. And among them all is Mary Datchet, a Lincolnshire vicar’s daughter, living alone in London, passionately committed to her work for a women’s suffrage campaign. (hide spoiler)] Image Sources • Woman considering options: http://w4wn.com/wp-content/uploads/20... • London in the style of (Victorian) artist Atkinson Grimshaw, by William Dudley: http://gerrie-thefriendlyghost.blogsp... Tl;dnr As Apatt suggests in a comment below, this is a feminist novel, but it's not a strident or preachy one. It predates common use of the term, but all the main characters are reassessing the evolving roles of women and men. There is no simple answer to the dilemma of marriage and domesticity versus independence, but if Woolf is to be believed, literature (especially Shakespeare) and tea will fix most things.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Piyangie

    Night and Day is Virginia’s attempt at reconciling past and the present. Here Virginia Woolf submits to the traditional form of a novel. Yet this submission is qualified, for one can see the traces of stream of conscious writing which was fully developed in her later novels. Edwardian time marked a change in social perception and a deviation from rigid Victorian conventions. These changes affected the concepts of love, relationship, and marriage. In Night and Day Virginia attempts to throw some Night and Day is Virginia’s attempt at reconciling past and the present. Here Virginia Woolf submits to the traditional form of a novel. Yet this submission is qualified, for one can see the traces of stream of conscious writing which was fully developed in her later novels. Edwardian time marked a change in social perception and a deviation from rigid Victorian conventions. These changes affected the concepts of love, relationship, and marriage. In Night and Day Virginia attempts to throw some light on these slow changes that were steadily taking place. One of the unique features of Virginia Woolf is that she does not write a story. Instead, she writes about events, about places, about concepts, about moments, about feelings, about emotions. In Night and Day, she writes about the daily life of four youths, their personalities, their perceptions of love, marriage, happiness, and success. Katherine Hilbery, the protagonist, is a complex character. Her idea of a happy and successful life is to study mathematics and live in freedom. Being a privileged middle-class girl, her learnings and duties are restricted to the “drawing room”. This highly unsatisfactory life makes her unfeeling, moody, and absent-minded. Katherine finds her trapped in a love triangle but her view on marriage as an encumbrance makes her shy away from it. Even after falling in love, she contemplates an unconventional living that scandalizes her parents. William Rodney, one of the pursuers of Katherine is an unsuccessful poet. He is the traditional wing of the story. Ralph Denham, the other pursuer, is a solicitor, and he represents the modern wing. Mary Datchet, a suffragist, represents the social and political changes that are slowly coming about. The main characters of the story are in stark contrast with each other, but at the same time, they are similar in their inconsistencies and inarticulate manner of expression. Their differences as to personalities, feelings, and emotions are intensely and passionately described so that one forgets them to be fictitious. All these characters, places, moments, feelings, emotions will however be bare, if not for her beautiful writing. It’s her writing with its poetic beauty that I love the most. Night and Day, being an early work of Virginia, descriptive writing dominates although traces of stream of consciousness can be observed. But what struck me with awe is her description of emotions and feelings through symbols, colours, and landscapes. The effect had such a strong impact on me that I found myself, struck with its beauty, unable and refusing to move on. Undoubtedly Virginia’s writing is her most treasured gift to the literary world. But reading her is not easy. It is demanding, and it saps your energy. All the same, the effort is worth it. With Night and Day, I have read four of her works; and I can say each is unique and original. I feel privileged and honored to have met her through her books. Decidedly Virginia Woolf is the best literary production of the twentieth century.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    Night And Day by Virginia Woolf reminds me of Picasso's Blue and Pink Period. Left behind is the "grand European history painting", and all the characters appear slightly blue, with a touch of rose. You sense that something new is coming, lurking in the shadows, waiting to erupt at full force. But it is not QUITE there yet. The composition still owes its construction to the old-fashioned ideals of the human body and mind as a whole and complete unity in time and space. As you are trained in Art Night And Day by Virginia Woolf reminds me of Picasso's Blue and Pink Period. Left behind is the "grand European history painting", and all the characters appear slightly blue, with a touch of rose. You sense that something new is coming, lurking in the shadows, waiting to erupt at full force. But it is not QUITE there yet. The composition still owes its construction to the old-fashioned ideals of the human body and mind as a whole and complete unity in time and space. As you are trained in Art History, you KNOW that cubism is next in line, that the expressive modernism is hiding under the surface, already showing signs of developing prematurely in some scenes and sentences. And yet, cubism is still in the future, and the present is a play on classical Goethe's theme in the Elective Affinities. The Elective Dissonances - the next step towards modernism - are not for William and Ralph, Katherine and Cassandra. But they know they play a game that has lost its charm, and they are accordingly confused. As is the reader ... torn between the knowledge of Virginia Woolf's Roaring Twenties and the actual book, a blue and pink arrangement: pleasant and terribly well-constructed but not overwhelming - yet! Why do I seem to keep talking about something a bit off-topic, but touching it ever so lightly in a metaphorical way? Was it the essence of the book that struck me as pretend-playing with fire without getting burnt? Avoiding a critique of the book is a summary of its effect on me? A question mark that saves the day? YES!

  9. 4 out of 5

    Helle

    ‘There are some books that LIVE’, she mused. ‘They are young with us, and they grow old with us’. Mrs. Hilbery, of course, is quite right about that. And this was one such book for me, I suspect. At least, I feel now, upon closing it, that it reached the span of my years and, quite unexpectedly, understood me. The first half was a bit tame to me. There was no narrative to speak of. The characters seemed mere ideas, though with occasional meaningful conversations. This set the scene for the second ‘There are some books that LIVE’, she mused. ‘They are young with us, and they grow old with us’. Mrs. Hilbery, of course, is quite right about that. And this was one such book for me, I suspect. At least, I feel now, upon closing it, that it reached the span of my years and, quite unexpectedly, understood me. The first half was a bit tame to me. There was no narrative to speak of. The characters seemed mere ideas, though with occasional meaningful conversations. This set the scene for the second half, however, and something happened about half way through for me. Suddenly much of the wisdom in the novel felt too close for comfort; many times one of the characters said or thought things that were disconcertingly close to my own life (now or previously), and I found myself exclaiming, ‘I’ve felt exactly that!’ and ‘That’s been my dilemma, too!’ Woolf has reached into the depths of her understanding of human beings in this novel, and once I realized that that was what this novel uniquely had to offer me, I submerged myself in her voice. Unlike her more experimental novels, there is a (faint) storyline in this novel, along which Woolf has strewn her usual graceful words, which I obediently followed and cherished. I (mostly) listened to the novel, which is apparently (and clearly) the most autobiographical of her works, as I cycled through town, spring having finally decided to make an entrance in my northern country, and as I went about in my garden. The mellifluous, fragile voice of Juliet Stephenson was perfect for Woolf’s words - soothing when surrounded by urban noises, like gliding into a cool pool after a hot day; perfect for walking in a garden at dusk; an almost sensory experience. Virginia Woolf explores the nature of work here, of human relationships – especially romantic ones but also the relation with oneself, of family, of all connections to things that we come to see as meaningful in our own lives. There was something between the pages of this novel which made me feel strangely seen, an experience that doesn’t occur often to me and which is of course entirely dependent on our own mental luggage. Night and Day is that of Woolf’s novels which reminds me most of Forster’s books, who, as friend and fellow member of the Bloomsbury group, of course read all her books, and she his. There is, perhaps, even a tiny nod to Jane Austen, whom Woolf loved, in the storyline (who is to have whom?) and in the characters of Katherine Hilbery (who reminded me a bit of some of Austen’s most stubborn heroines (Elizabeth Bennett and Emma) and her delightful mother, Mrs. Hilbery (who, to me, was much more likeable than most of Austen’s mothers, but the caricature was there; she absolutely adores Shakespeare and is forever quoting or mentioning him, probably echoing Woolf’s own love of the Bard). It was the first of Woolf’s novels that didn’t perplex me or frustrate me or make me feel inept at seeing her brilliance. Here I see it (as she sees my flaws), and I think that this, though her longest novel (which teeters on the brink of being long-winded), might be a good place to start for anyone who has yet to try reading her. It is, in some ways, a fictionalized version of the motif of ‘a room of one’s own’. Strangely, some (incl. Katherine Mansfield) considered this novel a product of Woolf’s snobbery. I don’t see that. But I do see a sharp mind, a bookish mind, a mind which juxtaposes different characters and personalities and, thus, shows truths about human foibles. That, surely, is intelligence. Words I have come to associate with Virginia Woolf and which cropped up multiple times in this novel: alternately, omnibus, lamentable/y, truth, waves, garden, lighthouse, embankment, the dome of St. Paul’s. Life. Apart from the adverbs, clearly these words make up the fabric of her novels and/or part of the (London) backdrop that many of her novels are set in. ‘It’s life that matters, nothing but life – the process of discovering, the everlasting and perpetual process’, said Katherine (…), ‘not the discovery itself at all.’

  10. 5 out of 5

    Teresa

    Ralph adores Katharine. Mary loves Ralph. William, who seems to love himself mostly, desperately wants to marry Katharine. Katharine, who seems to be sleepwalking through her life, loves…Mathematics. Katharine, an upper-class woman living with her parents, has to hide her love. The above “entanglements” are only the start. Love, or its facsimile, is dissected and lost; dissected and gained; or regained. Katharine and Mary are opposites, “night and day” (though I don’t think that’s the reason for Ralph adores Katharine. Mary loves Ralph. William, who seems to love himself mostly, desperately wants to marry Katharine. Katharine, who seems to be sleepwalking through her life, loves…Mathematics. Katharine, an upper-class woman living with her parents, has to hide her love. The above “entanglements” are only the start. Love, or its facsimile, is dissected and lost; dissected and gained; or regained. Katharine and Mary are opposites, “night and day” (though I don’t think that’s the reason for the title): the light of the late afternoon glowed green behind the straight trees, and became a symbol of her [Katharine].; …Mary Datchet, a sturdy russet figure, with a dash of scarlet. (Both quotes from Chapter XV.) The younger Cassandra, who comes into the picture later to both complicate and simplify matters, is the weakest link, as far as characterization goes. Her dialogue in one particular chapter is both too forced and too obvious as concerning her name—though unlike the mythological Cassandra, her reassurances are believed. She’s first portrayed as an Edwardian girl who can follow her fancy wherever her various interests take her, but then comes to seem as if she’s still a part of the Victorian age, or at least the Victorian novel. This fits the “in-between-ness” of the time period—at one point, Katharine is running around the streets of London desperately searching for her special-someone until Mary reminds her she could use the telephone instead. In Woolf’s first novel, The Voyage Out, there were too many characters. The number of characters in this, her second novel, seems just right; my main issue is with the numerous descriptions of emotions and feelings. Though Woolf’s prose is lovely and flowing, near the end its content turns tedious and repetitive, and thus exasperating. Are three separate outings by the two couples needed before bringing Katharine’s ineffectual father into the mix? However, unlike in Woolf’s first novel, the amount of themes has been streamlined, but still includes the tantalizing In such a room, one could work—one could have a life of one’s own.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Ivana Books Are Magic

    I have to say it- I was very much impressed by this novel. I've took my sweet time reading Night and Day. I was working overtime during the pandemic so there were times when I had to abandon reading this novel altogether, as lovely as it is. However, even if that hadn't been the case, I think it would have still taken me a rather long time to read it, for there is much to take in. The novel is quite worldly and at times surprisingly philosophical. It is quite slow paced but in a way that makes s I have to say it- I was very much impressed by this novel. I've took my sweet time reading Night and Day. I was working overtime during the pandemic so there were times when I had to abandon reading this novel altogether, as lovely as it is. However, even if that hadn't been the case, I think it would have still taken me a rather long time to read it, for there is much to take in. The novel is quite worldly and at times surprisingly philosophical. It is quite slow paced but in a way that makes sense, due to many digressions of thought that often explore the concepts of love and freedom. Its peculiar mix of modern and traditional makes it quite unique. Night and Day is a rather long novel, almost Victorian in some ways. I wonder if it is not a nod to some Victorian authors. The novel is set in London and albeit the year isn't distinctly named there are references to historical events. One of the novel's main characters Mary is a part of suffragette movement and is fighting for the right of women to vote. We can therefore place it in a specific historical time and context. However, feminism isn't the main subject of this novel. Many of novel's philosophical passages dwell on personal freedom but the author is wise enough not to limit it to one gender nor to imply that having a job equals emancipation. Men struggle as much as women when it comes into attaining their freedom or even figuring out what freedom means for them and how they are supposed to attain it. Virginia Woolf seems to understand that life isn't easy neither for men nor for women, especially when it comes to the great questions of life and love. The conflict between our individual and social needs is an ongoing struggle. There are quite a few love triangles in this book and for a long time not much happens that implies these triangles will be resolved. The characters move painfully slow and struggle to grasp one another. I actually didn't mind that, as I found it quite realistic. We are all different people and if we struggle to understand ourselves, surely we must have a hard time understanding others as well? I like how the author showed a great deal of compassion for all of the characters, at least that is what I felt she did. You can see their flaws and virtues very clearly. You can understand how they sometimes hurt one another without trying to. There are four principal characters in a novel and two of them are females: Mary and Katherine, while the other two are male: Ralph and William. Another female character Cassandra (Katherine's younger cousin) is introduced later on. Needless to say, she become a part of a love triangle herself. Personally, for me the greatest lesson this novel has to teach is that sometimes- it isn't anyone's fault. Relationships end and begin, sometimes naturally and sometimes with an aid of a third person. We always want to put a blame on somebody because we are afraid to admit how much we don't know- about this world, about ourselves, about everything. It is hard to make sense of this world, even for the intelligent, the well meaning, the good of heart or/and the talented. Maybe it is the world that doesn't make sense, not us. There is always some suffering to be endured, such is the nature of this world. Love cannot make this suffering go away, but it can ease it perhaps. In conclusion, this is a wonderful novel, beautifully written and full of wisdom. If you read it carefully, there is much you can learn from Night and Day. It is not a fast or an easy read, at it might not be engaging to some, but it is a great novel nevertheless. P.S. The writing is at times so poetic and beautiful it makes up for the novel's slow pace. “Never are voices so beautiful as on a winter's evening, when dusk almost hides the body, and they seem to issue from nothingness with a note of intimacy seldom heard by day.” ― Virginia Woolf, Night and Day

  12. 4 out of 5

    Carol She's So Novel꧁꧂

    Bailed at 40%. Clearly this wasn't the best Woolf to start with. The writing style is very similar to my idol & Woolf's sometime friend Katherine Mansfield. But these beautifully crafted & observed gems are better suited the "slice of life" in the short story format & that is where KM succeeds so well. I've looked up the page count on Woolf's better known works & they are much shorter novels than this, so I'm hopeful they will work for me as well. But Woolf couldn't make me care about any of her c Bailed at 40%. Clearly this wasn't the best Woolf to start with. The writing style is very similar to my idol & Woolf's sometime friend Katherine Mansfield. But these beautifully crafted & observed gems are better suited the "slice of life" in the short story format & that is where KM succeeds so well. I've looked up the page count on Woolf's better known works & they are much shorter novels than this, so I'm hopeful they will work for me as well. But Woolf couldn't make me care about any of her characters at all, so I am putting this work aside.

  13. 4 out of 5

    E. G.

    Foreword, by Jeanette Winterson Introduction, by Jo Shapcott Introduction, by Angelica Garnett --Night and Day

  14. 5 out of 5

    Mariel

    Something about the truth was in it; how to see the truth is our great chance in this world. The morning that I finished reading Night and Day I "wrote" a review out loud to my sister. It was better than anything I will ever write on goodreads because it doesn't die when I lose myself. It will be okay because I can make it alive again when something else happens to remind me. It was really a continuation of a conversation we have been having for a long time. We can pick up the thread out of the b Something about the truth was in it; how to see the truth is our great chance in this world. The morning that I finished reading Night and Day I "wrote" a review out loud to my sister. It was better than anything I will ever write on goodreads because it doesn't die when I lose myself. It will be okay because I can make it alive again when something else happens to remind me. It was really a continuation of a conversation we have been having for a long time. We can pick up the thread out of the blue from mentally printed words of gray. I love my sister. "Remember, it was like when you told me that you wondered if the way to be wasn't to keep everything inside to yourself. That the way to win would be to never touch the sharper edges of everyone else..." If self respect, if everything is okay, if no one ever sees you fall. When we overlap talking to my sister is like talking to books that fit in with me. It isn't always like that and it cannot be taken for granted (it should never be taken for granted). Reading Night and Day was at the best of times just like picking up a conversation where you had once left off with a person you can let your guard down with enough to sit quietly by yourself and let your mind space flow to constellations and equations. The bad parts of the book- I shouldn't say bad. It's a cage. I should say it is like being lectured to by someone, say your mother, about "life facts", like no one will ever love you if you aren't pretty, that you would rather ignore and pretend that what one person says is fact isn't necessarily true. It doesn't want to be that book, but it is the cage that they live in. It is thinking too much of what everyone else thinks and saying the wrong thing and taking it for granted. Night and Day loses itself and I lost heart. I don't forget what meant something to me so that is something. I loved it when Mary would be hoping for those golden threads emitting from another person for herself to pick up. When she has the chance for friendship with Katharine when they first meet at her party. The wrong thing to say could spoil it. Woolf (and I KNOW that we all feel this, those who love her, and it is a wonderful feeling, like belonging to something) is wonderful about painting the possibilities, giving the chance for something to happen. If she writes that someone is feeling this and this is going to happen because of that it doesn't happen like proclamations from heaven or the great book of judgement lorded over by book holders in pulpits everywhere. The losing yourself because the world is a cage. It is only the chance. I love that. This book has moments like that and I wish that I had marked them off so I could share them right now. If she would say that this person said this because they were worried that the other person was going to say that, instead of waiting. So Ralph, Mary's friend who she loves, will sit there and come out of himself with a "Well, Mary?" I think that might have been my favorite part of the whole book when that happens. Katharine who can be "herself" walking alongside Ralph who has dreamed her into being someone else. I know that feeling well. It is the obsession of a person who dreams away their life and forgets how to taste real food because it doesn't taste the way that dream food tasted. He calculates what he can say before he says it to Mary. This is for me, this is for her. Katharine doesn't know herself and this is the part that my sister and I talked about so long on so many different occasions. Mary feels she couldn't get herself back if she goes to the other side. It is the opposite of touching the star eye reflections. Do you lose if your reflection is shown on someone else? It is like saving face, really. If she had told Ralph that she loved him, if she had been seen by Katharine to stretch out the years of loneliness measured against the worth of having only yourself. If you believe you lose yourself... To myself I have talked about if it is wrong to see dream figures in place of flesh and blood, to figure them as figment-ed blots. I THINK you don't lose yourself. The Mariel in my flesh and blood state only talks the way that I do on goodreads with my sister and in my own head. I'll have the best times of my life when I can "let go" and say things that I didn't know I was going to say. Those are flights of fancy and comedy routines. It is Ralph's "Well, Mary?" outside of myself so that I can see it. The other half is like when Ralph keeps that part for himself. I believe there's more than what we already have so I don't agree with Mary that you are losing if you share. Trusting someone else to see it is important to me. I think that it was lonelier to not have that. I hope that Mary wouldn't think she lost herself if someone saw her looking into the future as if it had gone on without her. Isn't that what not knowing your own place is like? Katharine is going to marry William Rodney. She is not going to marry William Rodney. I fell in love with Woolf all over again when Rodney is not a loser because he loses his consciousness amongst dead leaves. They are all asking out loud for their inner conversations to be heard outside of themselves. That is why Rodney wants Katharine to know what his own inner unvoiced fears are. I was afraid that I would feel ashamed of myself on his behalf that he is so insecure, that he would ask for ritual assurance from her as if she were some kind of altar. I was frustrated with Katharine as she was to them. I wanted the algebraic writing on her eyes as dream Katharine walked alongside Ralph's dream Katharine. Would the world end if all of these Katharines ever met? What would happen if everyone as seen by everyone else met up with who we really were? What would happen if who we thought we were met up with who we really were? But the book goes on and on and on and on. I didn't give any kind of anything for Rodney falling in love with Katharine's cousin Cassandra. The book became my cage and I was that bored feeling I'll never forget from childhood of being dragged to fabric stores. Waiting for someone else to make a choice that I would rather see how something else looks. Buy something, already! She noticed the lips just parted, the fingers loosely clenched, the whole attitude of rapt contemplation, which fell like a veil between them. She noticed everything about him; if there had been other signs of his utter alienation she would have sought them out too, for she felt that it was only by heaping one truth upon another that she could keep herself sitting there, upright. The truth seemed to support her; it struck her, even as she looked at his face, that the light of truth was shining far away beyond him; the light of truth, she seemed to frame the words as she rose to go, shines on a world not to be shaken by our personal calamities. Oh, but it was sometimes wonderful. Mary would be dreaming of bald headed sparrows and trying to harness her own wool gathering into a direction she wanted to see herself in. I don't love Ralph. What if I am only a suffragette because I want to weave spider-like strings over all of the I have no strings to hold me down people I could decide don't have these inner worlds like I do, or I could give them hope and trust and believe they have it too. I loved it when Ralph loves his family and when Ralph wants to leave his family. When they talk about truth and what it was really about is if we THINK other people are telling us the truth. Sure, Ralph never talked about love when he was going around asking these real-dream-or-is-it-real people to marry him. I didn't care who got married. If everything about who was going to marry who was gone from the book it would have been perfect. You know what I really loved? When Woolf side stepped telling what people were thinking and what they thought it meant. I loved the repeat patterns that did this. People would laugh and someone would always want to know what they were laughing about. They could come up with the wrong reasons and a dream version of that person would be born that slighted the dreamer as they felt like doing. Katharine would laugh while in Mary's office and just get up and leave. I thought that was the best. Much better than anything Katharine felt other people expected her to be because she was the POET'S GRANDDAUGHTER, or had nice clothes. I would wonder how I would feel if I was in a "Well, Mary?" mood and the person laughed. What would I decide they were laughing about? Those patterns made it feel like a continuing conversation more than anything else did. I guess Night and Day could have gone on forever in this way. I'm glad it didn't because I was desperate for the whole who is going to marry William Rodney thing to go away. I didn't want to live in dream Katharines if there isn't a real one. Who was really Katharine, to Katharine? No right thing to do, no something you have to live with. If people saw her from outside, and they say Mary from outside, and if these two were laughing, would they think of a winning scenario for one of them and a losing for the other? I think that's a cage. I am so sick of people winning because the "right thing" was imagined. That's what I'm sick of. No one won and I freaking love Virginia Woolf.

  15. 4 out of 5

    poncho

    Albeit not as ardent, formidable and consuming as her later works (such as To the Lighthouse or The Waves), and not written in her acknowledged stream of consciousness, Night and Day, Virginia Woolf's second novel, set in Edwardian London and published in 1919, comes as a determined stand on feminism and womanhood, written in a rather Victorian style — quite Brontë-ish, in my opinion, though not as furious and romantic as the three sisters — introducing memorable characters that intertwine in an Albeit not as ardent, formidable and consuming as her later works (such as To the Lighthouse or The Waves), and not written in her acknowledged stream of consciousness, Night and Day, Virginia Woolf's second novel, set in Edwardian London and published in 1919, comes as a determined stand on feminism and womanhood, written in a rather Victorian style — quite Brontë-ish, in my opinion, though not as furious and romantic as the three sisters — introducing memorable characters that intertwine in an emotional mesh throughout its pages. Katherine, whose idea of success is marriage; Mary, involved in women's rights, who regards work as her precept of living; Ralph, a lawyer looking for his own peace of mind; and William, the poet, looking for the kind of romanticism one finds in books. Woolf uses her characters, she entangles their feelings, quite constantly — and that's why I think the author herself regarded her own work as endless — and she serves them to manifest a new era and announce that something new was about to happen, not only in literature: that is, the culmination of the Victorian style and the rise of modernism, but also in history as the end of a pre-established idea of womanhood. She even questions the idea of love, and presents it as a mere literary idea, something that we make up, perhaps just a word. And if such a thing exists, it may not need the formalities of marriage for its representation — an idea which seems to me quite vanguardist. Night and Day, nevertheless, is a simple yet beautiful narrative; it has Virginia's print leaning out in some remarkable phrases, like those Mrs. Hilbery kept looking for. It is an ever-contrasting plot; like a roller coaster; like the passing from daylight to nighttime, serving us to see things through the light of sunlight and moonlight respectively; disclosing that our notion of humanity does not have to be as binary as sometimes we think it is. "You come and see me among flowers and pictures, and think me mysterious, romantic, and all the rest of it. Being yourself very inexperienced and very emotional, you go home and invent a story about me, and now you can't separate me from the person you've imagined me to be. You call that, I suppose, being in love; as a matter of fact it's being in delusion."

  16. 4 out of 5

    Chrissie

    What saves this book is the prose and the humor. Virginia Woolf draws places and people and situations perceptively. You don't merely see them; you feel the atmosphere enveloping people and situations. The reader gets into the heads of the characters; a reader sees each character’s world through their own eyes. No character resembles another; each is an individual with a clear identity. They are all too complicated and way too indecisive to be viewed as mere cut-out figures. With the wide variet What saves this book is the prose and the humor. Virginia Woolf draws places and people and situations perceptively. You don't merely see them; you feel the atmosphere enveloping people and situations. The reader gets into the heads of the characters; a reader sees each character’s world through their own eyes. No character resembles another; each is an individual with a clear identity. They are all too complicated and way too indecisive to be viewed as mere cut-out figures. With the wide variety of characters provided, every reader is sure to find at least one with whom they connect. This is Woolf's second novel. It does not employ stream of consciousness, but you recognize in her focus upon characters' thoughts and emotions that it is merely a step away from the writing that follows. This is a social comedy. If you don't relate to the subtle humor, it is going to be simply a long and drawn-out tale. On the surface we have the typical story of who is going to end up married to whom. There is Katherine Hilbery engaged to the poet William Rodney, both entrenched in the rules and decorum of upper-middle-class British society. Asquith is mentioned as prime minister, so the story is set a decade into the 20th century. The suffrage movement is in full-swing. Then there is Ralph Denham, a solicitor and a writer of reviews. He has no money. His father has died. On his shoulders has fallen the financial burden of his mother and numerous sisters. Finally we are presented with Mary Datchet, a suffragette, and Cassandra, Katherine's cousin. Oh gosh, it is these two that I loved most. Mary I just plain loved for her goodness and wisdom and strength. I think of Cassandra and I smile and giggle. There are people like this and you need them in books. Yeah, good characters that you weigh off against each other. Katherine drove me nuts, but this is what I am saying. Different characters will speak to different readers! You do not read this book for the plot. If you don’t see the humor and the wit you will suffocate. If you cannot relate to the inner world of the respective characters you’re going to fall asleep. The book is definitely too long. I cannot recommend this book wholeheartedly. The audiobook is narrated by Juliet Stevenson. In the beginning I disliked her tone. It felt too upper-class, but even from the start I had to admit her intonations fit perfectly the characters. As more and more characters are introduced, the more and more I loved the narration. My original one star of dislike morphed to a five star of complete admiration. A retort sounds as a retort. Others giggle. Some characters are totally full of themselves and you hear it. There is an American; she sounds exactly as an American sounds. In chapter twelve you meet Mrs. Cosham. Perfect, stunning, I simply couldn’t stop laughing. She doesn’t stay long but others follow. So, I am giving this three stars. Parts I l-o-v-e-d, but it is too long and drawn out. It is a book you read for the enjoyment attained from observing how different people see, define and feel love. It is much less about who is going to marry whom.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Settare (on hiatus)

    This is the first time I got a bit bored reading Woolf, so I think I'll have to wait for a while, go back and re-read some parts of the book and reflect on them before I leave a review here, otherwise, it'd be a lazy review and I wouldn't leave a lazy review for anything written by Virginia Woolf. This is the first time I got a bit bored reading Woolf, so I think I'll have to wait for a while, go back and re-read some parts of the book and reflect on them before I leave a review here, otherwise, it'd be a lazy review and I wouldn't leave a lazy review for anything written by Virginia Woolf.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Melissa Somerton

    I just feel so strongly that this novel is highly underated. I am a huge, HUGE Virginia Woolf fan and I love her later work, but I hold a special place for this novel. Straight forward and less cutting edge than her more popular works, but still beautifully crafted. Night and Day explores the inner workings of 4 characters as they try to understand the nature of their relations to others and the clash between the desires of the inner mind and the desire to fit in and do right. At first glance it I just feel so strongly that this novel is highly underated. I am a huge, HUGE Virginia Woolf fan and I love her later work, but I hold a special place for this novel. Straight forward and less cutting edge than her more popular works, but still beautifully crafted. Night and Day explores the inner workings of 4 characters as they try to understand the nature of their relations to others and the clash between the desires of the inner mind and the desire to fit in and do right. At first glance it's a Victorian romance novel, but for anyone who cares to give it a proper read, it is so much more about 4 introverts who try really hard to live truthfully, but fear their truths are unacceptable to others. They struggle to hide or bend it, but in the end, realize that life is a matter of being honest about who you are and accepting the consequences. Sometimes the consequence is that many turn away but sometimes, it's the only way to find someone to really understand or at the very least accept. All 4 characters are passionate and rich in detail. We learn about them almost exclusively from their own thoughts which lends a deeply personal vision of the events of the story. The one piece of advice I give is get through the first quarter of it before giving up. It builds slowly. If you dig character studies, this novel will have you feeling as if you might even be one of the characters from knowing them so well. I've read and re-read this so many times. Each time I am deeply moved by my relationship to the characters and by Ms. Woolf's astounding talent for beauty in words.

  19. 5 out of 5

    ~Jo~

    This book is rather difficult for me to rate and review. I have somewhat mixed feelings about this book. Virginia Woolf was without a shadow of a doubt, an incredibly talented writer. She writes so beautifully, so that you are not only reading about the events that are unfolding in the story, but you can actually feel the atmosphere. And that, isn't an easy thing to be able to do. All of the characters are unique. There is no character that is even remotely like the next. The development of these This book is rather difficult for me to rate and review. I have somewhat mixed feelings about this book. Virginia Woolf was without a shadow of a doubt, an incredibly talented writer. She writes so beautifully, so that you are not only reading about the events that are unfolding in the story, but you can actually feel the atmosphere. And that, isn't an easy thing to be able to do. All of the characters are unique. There is no character that is even remotely like the next. The development of these characters is done in a grand fashion, and they are in no way straight forward. They are all complicated in their own individual way. I appreciate this in a story, as no one likes a story that runs too smoothly. There is a subtle humour included within this story, and I think this definitely needs to appreciated, so that one can enjoy the book. However, I can not bring myself to give more than three stars for this book. My whole heart just wasn't with this story, at all. Being blatantly honest, the story was excruciatingly boring! It didn't have me on edge at any moment and the plot was just tiresome. If one cannot see the wit involved in this story, one may be in serious danger of falling asleep. The book is also definitely too long and drawn out. This is something you read if you are interested in seeing how fairly different people, feel and define what love is.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Claudia

    My first Virginia Woolf novel! I really enjoyed this story built around romantic relationships and friendships between four young people in early 20th century London. It is quite a long book with a slow-paced plot and a lot of inner monologue, but that suits me just fine.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Yvette

    I'm going to have a lot of haters after this review. Yes, yes, it's a Virginia Woolf Classic - got that! Yes, she is a literary goddess and her writing is beautiful. That is not in debate here. HOWEVER, this book kinda sucked! It made me want to crawl out of my skin at times. It dragged. Many times I said, "Enough already!" I know that at times the dragging on was suppose to be comical, but it wasn't funny to me. Maybe as a play I would be able to appreciate the comical aspects, but not as a wor I'm going to have a lot of haters after this review. Yes, yes, it's a Virginia Woolf Classic - got that! Yes, she is a literary goddess and her writing is beautiful. That is not in debate here. HOWEVER, this book kinda sucked! It made me want to crawl out of my skin at times. It dragged. Many times I said, "Enough already!" I know that at times the dragging on was suppose to be comical, but it wasn't funny to me. Maybe as a play I would be able to appreciate the comical aspects, but not as a wordy-drag-on-enough-already-paragraph. I was so disappointed with the main characters. I literally wanted to jump in the book and shake them out of their stupidity. "JUST TELL HER/HIM HOW YOU FEEL!" The beating around the bush took up more than half of the book. I wanted to just skip over a lot of it, but couldn't bring myself to, afraid to miss something beautiful in Woolf's writing. I basically suffered in the characters' misery. I enjoyed the cameo characters more than the protagonists. Mary, I loved and wish there were more scenes with her. My favorite part of the book was when Mary went to visit her family. Even Henry and Mrs. Hilbery were better than the main characters; heck even nosy and annoying Aunt Milvain was more likable then some of these main characters...lol. The main characters were kinda self-absorbed jerks - even in the end, one of the characters couldn't bring himself to do the right thing. Like a dog with his tail between his butt, he leaves without ever knocking on that door...ugh! Those who read it know what I am talking about. Let me just say that I will not be adding this book to my home library.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Viv JM

    2.5 stars, rounded up for the quality of writing. This book is difficult for me to rate and review. Yes, without a doubt, Woolf was a very talented writer and her prose is beautiful - that is not in dispute. However, for the most part I just found this book extraordinarily dull. It does raise some interesting questions of the value of work versus marriage for young women but at its heart, it is mostly a novel of will they/won't they romance, which is just not my thing. And it is so terribly, terr 2.5 stars, rounded up for the quality of writing. This book is difficult for me to rate and review. Yes, without a doubt, Woolf was a very talented writer and her prose is beautiful - that is not in dispute. However, for the most part I just found this book extraordinarily dull. It does raise some interesting questions of the value of work versus marriage for young women but at its heart, it is mostly a novel of will they/won't they romance, which is just not my thing. And it is so terribly, terribly upper middle class with its endless afternoon teas and excursions! Woolf does have a few "working" characters, but they seem to start work at 10am, and are still available for expensive lunches and afternoon teas during the week. I had a few issues with the ending too - (view spoiler)[ it just seemed so unlikely that Katharine's parents would go from kicking Ralph out one day, to warmly accepting him as a potential son-in-law the next, especially given the huge disparity in social class. (hide spoiler)] I am planning to read Woolf's novels in order of publication. Hopefully I will enjoy the others more than this, as I did like her first, The Voyage Out. I listened to the Naxos Audiobook of Night and Day. Juliet Stevenson did a sterling job as narrator, as always.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

    at first i loved this book--it's crystal clear insight into the heads of 4 different people who are alternatingly in and out of love with each other, and who continuously misunderstand each other. a brain-y 'friends' (don't kill me literati.) also illustrating our fundamental alienation and how we are continuously misreading one another. and lots of good writing. it's good to read in small bits, and i found myself really identifying with different characters at different times. haha, which now i at first i loved this book--it's crystal clear insight into the heads of 4 different people who are alternatingly in and out of love with each other, and who continuously misunderstand each other. a brain-y 'friends' (don't kill me literati.) also illustrating our fundamental alienation and how we are continuously misreading one another. and lots of good writing. it's good to read in small bits, and i found myself really identifying with different characters at different times. haha, which now i feel like is damning to myself... because at the end, i realized that woolf's 'love' is an illusion. these 4 people are completely self-absorbed and that makes them into jerks who think they are desperately in love when they are actually just in 'love' with 1.being in love or 2.relief from emotional/intellectual anguish. they never display what would be actual love towards one another: they never try to work for the other's benefit (except when it coincides with their understanding that it will be better for themselves in the longterm--argh--the cloying, martyred tone when they have to make short-term 'painful' sacrifices), take an interest in the other person's interests--in fact, they seem vaguely dismissive/condescending about each other's interests, and the breakthrough at the end is when 2 of them kind of get each other's doodlings and this makes them think they are completely united in understanding each other now (gag). the worst 2 people are most in love with each other when the other is absent and the major obstacle to their relationship is how to figure out how to be in love in a consistent way, when they are actually together. and the one character who does try to think about people other than herself is the only one who ends up alone and is kind of portrayed as this frustrated dupe who throws herself into ultimately meaningless social/political work. and her good friend who she was in love with can't even bring himself to tell her that he's engaged--the story ends with him deciding against it and traipsing off into the night with his "beloved". ugh ugh ugh. but it's a good book. because a lot of this is true about what we think is love.

  24. 4 out of 5

    John

    No danger here of rehashing the plot, as I had a hard enough time trying to grasp it while reading! This is a very long story that goes on and on. Well-written, but I was able to stick with it primarily for Juliet Stevenson's incredible audio narration. Supposedly, it's the story of two young women: Katherine and Mary. But, by the end of the story I'd forgotten Mary existed when reference is made to her! All I can recall are her quirky coworkers introduced early on. Didn't really bond with Kather No danger here of rehashing the plot, as I had a hard enough time trying to grasp it while reading! This is a very long story that goes on and on. Well-written, but I was able to stick with it primarily for Juliet Stevenson's incredible audio narration. Supposedly, it's the story of two young women: Katherine and Mary. But, by the end of the story I'd forgotten Mary existed when reference is made to her! All I can recall are her quirky coworkers introduced early on. Didn't really bond with Katherine, finding her a bit tedious. The secondary characters in her world were more interesting. Honestly, the Edwardian London setting worked better for me than the plot, which seemed dated to the extent I grasped it. The "resolution" struck me as one of those French farces where actors keep popping out of random doors and windows.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Xandra

    With only one Virginia Woolf novel left to read, Night and Day is probably her weakest so far. At first I found it hard to understand why this is often considered her worst book, because it maintained a high quality for a fairly long time, but towards the end I realized that I was falling out of love with it. To get the negatives out of the way, this is one unnecessarily lengthy book, weakened by too much circular introspection, indecision and empty dialogue, and too many tea parties and changes With only one Virginia Woolf novel left to read, Night and Day is probably her weakest so far. At first I found it hard to understand why this is often considered her worst book, because it maintained a high quality for a fairly long time, but towards the end I realized that I was falling out of love with it. To get the negatives out of the way, this is one unnecessarily lengthy book, weakened by too much circular introspection, indecision and empty dialogue, and too many tea parties and changes of heart. It gets weary. And with two love triangles ensuring that the romantic back and forths don’t stop too soon, you can’t help but feel dismayed knowing that it will take these people hundreds of pages to get their lives together. Another vexing aspect is that having romance as a main theme tends to push other sides of the characters in the background. Katharine’s secret interest in mathematics and astronomy, perhaps her most interesting quality, of which we are repeatedly reminded throughout and which we are told is a big part of her life, gets disappointingly little attention. Similarly, much emphasis is put on Ralph’s lower social status in relation to Katharine and his image as a working man that you can’t help but wonder: when does he find the time to work when all we see him do is take long walks around London and pay visits to his acquaintances? Despite these shortcomings, it can’t be denied that Woolf, even at her worst, creates terrific female characters. Katharine, who is probably my least favourite of Woolf’s characters, is well above most women that populate the literature of the time (and even women of today). Even though romance and marriage are the central plot points, Katharine has an existence beyond that. Granted, the sides of her that are dissociated from romance and marriage are insufficiently explored, but at least they exist and the book makes sure we don’t forget it. But the best character is Mary Datchet, a young educated woman who lives alone and fights for women’s right to vote. "I wonder why men always talk about politics?" Mary speculated. "I suppose, if we had votes, we should, too." "I dare say we should. And you spend your life in getting us votes, don't you?" "I do," said Mary, stoutly. "From ten to six every day I'm at it." As far as I can remember, this is the only book I’ve read where the theme of women’s suffrage is widely explored and an essential part of the story (Virginia Woolf also lightly touches on the subject in The Years) and this alone is enough to make this novel a worthy read. "The simple elementary acts of justice," she said, waving her hand towards the window, and indicating the foot-passengers and omnibuses then passing down the far side of Russell Square, "are as far beyond them as they ever were. We can only look upon ourselves, Mary, as pioneers in a wilderness. We can only go on patiently putting the truth before them. It isn't THEM," she continued, taking heart from her sight of the traffic, "it's their leaders. It's those gentlemen sitting in Parliament and drawing four hundred a year of the people's money. If we had to put our case to the people, we should soon have justice done to us. I have always believed in the people, and I do so still. But—" She shook her head and implied that she would give them one more chance, and if they didn't take advantage of that she couldn't answer for the consequences. Progress seems to invariably follow the same pattern. There’s always the same struggle and the same obstacles to overcome, only the object of the fight varies. And there’s still a lot to fight for today. "We have our work," she said […] "Yes - enough work to last a lifetime," said Mary […] "To last a lifetime? My dear child, it will last all our lifetimes. As one falls another steps into the breach. My father, in his generation, a pioneer - I, coming after him, do my little best. What, alas! can one do more? And now it's you young women - we look to you - the future looks to you. Ah, my dear, if I'd a thousand lives, I'd give them all to our cause. The cause of women, d'you say? I say the cause of humanity. And there are some" - she glanced fiercely at the window - "who don't see it! There are some who are satisfied to go on, year after year, refusing to admit the truth. […] "It's all so SIMPLE." She referred to a matter that was a perpetual source of bewilderment to her - the extraordinary incapacity of the human race, in a world where the good is so unmistakably divided from the bad, of distinguishing one from the other, and embodying what ought to be done in a few large, simple Acts of Parliament, which would, in a very short time, completely change the lot of humanity. Last but not least, here's Virginia Woolf showing her love for Shakespeare through Mrs. Hilbery who is literally me about Virginia Woolf. "I'm talking, I'm thinking, I'm dreaming of MY William - William Shakespeare, of course. Isn't it odd," she mused, standing at the window and tapping gently upon the pane, "that for all one can see, that dear old thing in the blue bonnet, crossing the road with her basket on her arm, has never heard that there was such a person? Yet it all goes on: lawyers hurrying to their work, cabmen squabbling for their fares, little boys rolling their hoops, little girls throwing bread to the gulls, as if there weren't a Shakespeare in the world. I should like to stand at that crossing all day long and say: 'People, read Shakespeare!'"

  26. 4 out of 5

    John

    I finally finished this book. Not my favourite Woolf novel. A traditional love story with two couples. Katherine is a character that changes her mind a bit to much for me. The plot revolves around a mismatch and the concept of true love. Interweaved with suffragettes in a brief way, a mother trying and failing to write the story of her famous poet father. This is Woolf’s second novel, set in pre-WWI London with the focus on two main characters, Ralph Denham and Katharine Hilbery. The story follo I finally finished this book. Not my favourite Woolf novel. A traditional love story with two couples. Katherine is a character that changes her mind a bit to much for me. The plot revolves around a mismatch and the concept of true love. Interweaved with suffragettes in a brief way, a mother trying and failing to write the story of her famous poet father. This is Woolf’s second novel, set in pre-WWI London with the focus on two main characters, Ralph Denham and Katharine Hilbery. The story follows their relationship from a first encounter at an afternoon tea at her mothers comfortable Chelsea mansion through to several more a meetings. Of courses there are other suitors and the tension and struggle of them admitting their true feelings. The story revolves around the class difference between them. She is rich and he is poor. Her family is famous. His he is ashamed of with his widowed mother and several brothers and sisters. The novel also follows other relationships. Ralph is attracted to suffragette Mary Datchett. Katherine is attracted to wealthy, hopelessly bad poet William Rodney. Then there’s Cassandra Otway, Katharine’s flighty cousin. There are glimpses of Woolfs brilliant use of language in this her second novel. Especially the meetings of the characters at night time and during the daytime.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Luís

    "Night and Day" is Virginia Woolf's second novel. We can find some imperfections, especially in a little too theatrical structure. The characters often take assigned poses, moving like actors on a set, making the scenes somewhat artificial. But already, the softness of the Woolfian rhythm makes fly. The slow and incessant oscillations of the waves of his prose carry the reader into this story questioning the sentiment of love. After reading "Mrs Dalloway", "Night and Day" confirms the literary g "Night and Day" is Virginia Woolf's second novel. We can find some imperfections, especially in a little too theatrical structure. The characters often take assigned poses, moving like actors on a set, making the scenes somewhat artificial. But already, the softness of the Woolfian rhythm makes fly. The slow and incessant oscillations of the waves of his prose carry the reader into this story questioning the sentiment of love. After reading "Mrs Dalloway", "Night and Day" confirms the literary genius of Woolf. Woolf's writing shows the world through the sensations of each character, especially Katherine and Ralph, two candid young men confronted and disturbed by the emotional overload of love. She shows the capacity of human beings to live not through the material reality of the world but by telling stories, immersing themselves in fiction. Katherine and Ralph, in love with each other, ask the same question: Do I love her for what she (or he) really is or for what she (or he) represents to my eyes? Is not love feeling a need to tell a story?

  28. 5 out of 5

    Kristin

    This book is a more sociopolitical and also existential version of a Jane Austen novel - a comedy of manners on the surface that in fact explores deeper issues about human relationships and existence. Things are changing during this period in English history, and the old and the new are seen in direct conflict not just between separate individuals but also within singular individuals themselves. Katharine Hilbery is among the latter. She's practical and cynical, but also dreamy and bored and hop This book is a more sociopolitical and also existential version of a Jane Austen novel - a comedy of manners on the surface that in fact explores deeper issues about human relationships and existence. Things are changing during this period in English history, and the old and the new are seen in direct conflict not just between separate individuals but also within singular individuals themselves. Katharine Hilbery is among the latter. She's practical and cynical, but also dreamy and bored and hopeful of living a life that matches the one she wants to lead in her head. Throughout much of the book, she tries to come to grips with how she can obtain it and whether such a thing even exists. Opposing Katharine's frame of mind and circumstances is Mary Datchet - a working suffragist who lives on her own. She spends about half of the book in love with close friend Ralph Denham, but rapidly becomes disillusioned with this state when she realizes Ralph is first, in love with Katharine, and second, only proposing marriage to her because he thinks she would like for him to do so. Representing a feminine ideal for Virginia Woolf, Mary acts sensibly about this situation and realizes a new consciousness in which she understands that she has lost something irrevocably but at least experiences a true life. Chapter 16 is when the style that Woolfe became known for later in her career starts to show itself. Katharine stands alone outside of her relatives' home while visiting them during Christmas, contemplating the peace and quiet. Rather than socialize or go about the expected conventions of a holiday gathering, Katharine does what Woolfe herself seemed fascinated with for the rest of her life and career - she looks the void in the face, entering into a staring contest with existence that never produces a clear winner no matter who or what is involved. This story veers between styles, which gives it a slightly shaky story arc, but nevertheless, this book is a great look at the author early in her career. Her best work is yet to come, but her language, tone, subtle characterization and use of setting are all here in this book, though in a less refined state in some cases. Once you find this author, I don't think there's anyone who can surpass her.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Ali

    Night and Day – Virginia Woolf’s second novel is a social comedy and a love story but also a subtle examination of women’s roles. The narrative, like that of The Voyage Out – which I read last year – is much more conventional than her later modernist novels To the Lighthouse, and Mrs Dalloway that I read in January. Although a little over four hundred pages it is a novel with a very simple plot – it is however, the complex, changing relationships between the central characters, which give the no Night and Day – Virginia Woolf’s second novel is a social comedy and a love story but also a subtle examination of women’s roles. The narrative, like that of The Voyage Out – which I read last year – is much more conventional than her later modernist novels To the Lighthouse, and Mrs Dalloway that I read in January. Although a little over four hundred pages it is a novel with a very simple plot – it is however, the complex, changing relationships between the central characters, which give the novel its depth. I enjoyed it enormously – it isn’t a difficult read, and these were characters I liked spending time with. Night and Day is a slightly longer novel than I associate with Woolf, I confess on a busy tiring week it took me the whole week to read. The prose is less poetic than To the Lighthouse for example and Orlando which I read last year. The structure of the novel and the narrative are tighter – more so even, I think than her first novel, which had a more meandering quality at times. Woolf uses several recurring motifs throughout the novel, the sky, stars the River Thames and walking – especially through London recur time and again. Women’s suffrage and the question of whether love and marriage can co-exist are explored in this novel through the fortunes of four main characters. Set in the very early twentieth century before or around the First World War – this is a society on the brink of change – Victorian attitudes still abound in many quarters – while a younger generation look toward the future. It has been suggested that Woolf’s fragile mental state during this period can account for her not making any reference to the wider political world, or the war – the reports of which had severely traumatised her. Full review: https://heavenali.wordpress.com/2016/...

  30. 5 out of 5

    Bettie

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0076... Description: Set in London before World War I, this novel explores the truth of feelings and particularly the nature of love. It is, in that sense, a love story, but in the hands of Virginia Woolf, it transcends conventional romance to pose a series of crucial questions about women, intellectual freedom, and marriage. Episode 1: Katherine and Mary are challenged over their assumptions about love, in pre-First World War London. With Kristin Scott Thomas. Ep http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0076... Description: Set in London before World War I, this novel explores the truth of feelings and particularly the nature of love. It is, in that sense, a love story, but in the hands of Virginia Woolf, it transcends conventional romance to pose a series of crucial questions about women, intellectual freedom, and marriage. Episode 1: Katherine and Mary are challenged over their assumptions about love, in pre-First World War London. With Kristin Scott Thomas. Episode 2: Katharine is engaged, but her secret admirer is also in Norfolk, invited by torn suffrage campaigner Mary. With Dervla Kirwan. "William, how you do go on about feelings" 4* Mrs Dalloway 4* To the Lighthouse 3* Night and Day 4* Orlando 1* The Waves TR Between the Acts 2* Flush 3* A Haunted House and other short stories

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