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The Lady in the Looking GlassThe Lady in the Looking Glass by Virginia Woolf

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

After reviewing the first in this 50 book mini series, I managed to hunt down the penultimate book and found it equally as fascinating.

Virginia Woolf is one of those authors who is known for her excruciatingly deep prose; accounts that are drawn deeply from the well of life. She is better known for ‘Mrs. Dalloway‘, ‘Orlando‘ and ‘The Waves’, but in this collection of 5 short stories we are reminded that her fiction is not necessarily always so inaccessible.

It is true that Woolf was an expert at observing her surroundings. For her, stories can be drawn forth from something as simple as a reflection on a mirror or a hole in the wall. Which is precisely what she explores in ‘The Lady in the Looking Glass’ and ‘The Hole in the Wall‘. I found the former of the two to be the most poignant, as Woolf quite cleverly constructs and deconstructs her main character while retaining a consistent ‘nature morte’ stance throughout.

Her observations are glacial, fleeting and feather-light laced with a terrible feeling of bitter regret. One almost gets the feeling that Woolf might even be observing herself, as the woman in the mirror does have some striking resemblances to her. Her loneliness, love affairs, childlessness yet social vivacity is all mentioned and one can’t help but think this all rings true of Woolf herself.

Two other stories I was surprised to discover was the delightful tale ‘A Society’ which could be broadly described as a tongue-in-cheek feminist approach to the ‘man’s world’. It follows a bunch of girls who decide to question the society they live in, after coming to the decision that women do all the work bringing these men into the world, yet the men contribute very little in the way of quality to art or literature. It was nice to see Woolf’s humourous side for once; I have come to the conclusion that she was a very funny lady with a wit on par with Austen.

The other story was again an odd little gem, ‘Lappin and Lappinova’ and is a look at the delusions and realities of marriage. There are some great moments when the young couple begin to explore this new territory of married life and I rather enjoyed the allusions to hunting and rabbits.

This is a nice little showcase of all the various sides of Woolf and gives us a glimpse of her eclectic tastes and mastery of life observations.

For more blog posts on Virginia Woolf, visit my review of ‘The Waves’

View all my reviews