Mrs. Dalloway

  • by Virginia Woolf
  • Narrated by Annette Bening
  • 7 hrs and 31 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Mrs. Dalloway, perhaps Virginia Woolf’s greatest novel, follows English socialite Clarissa Dalloway as she prepares for a party in post-World War I London. Four-time Oscar nominee Annette Bening (American Beauty, The Kids Are All Right) performs Woolf’s stream-of-consciousness style of storytelling brilliantly, exploring the hidden springs of thought and action in one day of a woman’s life.
When we first meet Clarissa Dalloway, she is preoccupied with the last-minute minutiae of party-planning while being flooded with memories of long ago. Clarissa then examines the realities of the present as the story travels forwards and back in time and in and out of different characters’ minds.
Mrs. Dalloway is daring not only in its stream-of-consciousness form, but also in its content. Woolf’s depiction of Septimus Warren Smith brings to light the ugly and often ignored truth of how the brutality of war can drive men mad. We also get to see in depth how our main protagonist, Clarissa Dalloway, suffers from her own form of psychological damage: the more subtle, everyday oppression of English society.

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What the Critics Say

“Bening's work here is fine…her tone offers its characteristic grace…both this narrator and this novelist offer tremendous gifts.” (AudioFile)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Surprisingly enjoyable

Haha! Am I the only one who liked Annette Benning? I thought her dead pan tone fit this book perfectly. Especially when speaking for Septimus.

A friend of mine is discovering classics that he's never read, and keeps suggesting books to me. He gave me an assignment to read this book, and then use Sparknotes to better understand the underlying ideas. I must say, I think I got more out of this book because of it. If I hadn't read the spark notes, I probably would have thought it was boring and dull, just as the other reviewers did.

Something that I find very interesting about this book is the way Virginia Woolf talks about mental illness. Not many people who are mentally ill themselves can describe the thoughts and feelings they have as precisely and eloquently as she does in this book. She rationalizes Septimus' feelings in such a profound way because she had those feelings (or some very much like them) all her life. I felt like I could see very clearly why she and Septimus both had to do what they did, and how it was the only way.

Ugh. That got very dark all of a sudden.

Overall, I thought this book was very much like Seinfeld. A lot about nothing. The plot...well, there isn't one. It is more a study on human character and death. It clearly captures the stream of consciousness movement that was happening when this book was written. I am a visual artist, so I was more familiar with works by Dali and Breton than I was of Woolf. I enjoyed this book as much as I would have enjoyed sitting in front of a Dali. It made me think harder than I wanted to, or than I am required to on a daily basis.
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- january

If I could give this 6 stars I would

I was turned off by Virginia Woolf when I was young - maybe she was pressed on me too insistently as a 'woman writer,' definitely I was turned off by some essays I had to read as an undergrad and which I found to be disturbingly elitist. But I had heard from several people that Mrs Dalloway was quite good, and they were right. I really had no idea that Woolf was this brilliant. And Bening absolutely nails the narration. I may not have enjoyed this when I was young, but now I certainly did, and I absolutely recommend it to anyone.
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- Sarah

Book Details

  • Release Date: 09-04-2012
  • Publisher: Audible Studios