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The story begins in the 16th century, when Orlando is a young man—emphasis is put from the beginning on the fact that he is indeed of the male sex at this juncture. We learn many details about Orlando and how he came into his stately family home, of his character, of his evolution in the world, from a aspiring writer to one of QE1's great favourite. I quite enjoyed this first part of the book, which was lush in period detail and psychology—enjoyed it that is until He inexplicably became a She after a long sleep. I then somehow lost interest as the centuries wore on and with Woolf's falling into more of an exercise in writing than the telling of a story, or so it felt to me. Both the sex change and Orlando's presumed immortality were never explained, the passing of time simply indicated by some changes in technology, with some characters having passed away, while a few others were also immortal and also went through an inexplicable sex change. Was Woolf perhaps trying to represent her version of reincarnation?
I know this is a very well respected book and also considered to be one of Woolf's most popular and accessible books, though I can't agree with the latter adjective. It was written for Vita Sackville West, with whom Woolf had a love affair, but having no background on their relationship and having not read their correspondence, I couldn't begin to guess how the book was a tribute to her erstwhile lover, or why it is considered to be one of the best lesbian fiction books, or even a feminist one for that matter. In short, I was less than taken with the whole, so I'll stick to Mrs Dalloway and A Room of One's Own as my two favourite Virginia Woolf books thus far. On the other hand, the excellent narration by Veronika Hyks kept me going and I very much hope we'll be finding more audiobooks narrated by her in near future.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
While I found Orlando at many times a beautiful poetic novel, it was at the same time a frustrating book ( do feel the movie was better )... it is full of wonderful thought provoking ideas/descriptions about society, love, sex, life, marriage, writing, poetry, the meaning of being male and female, etc.... which for me became the problem, it rambled on and on, so much so, I found myself yelling at the narrator "Get on with it!" And still, many times I was so moved by the magical imagery that I became enthralled! Even though I felt frustrated, I would highly recommend this novel to those who have a love for poetically slanted stories that delve into the deeper meaning of all things and maybe more patience than I have! Hats off to Ms. Hyks for the wonderful narration, I look forward to listening to more of her work.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
Oh dear. My first - and definitely last - Virginia Wolfe. Somewhere buried in all that self indulgent, over decorative, utterly redundant screed of endless verbiage is hidden a half decent story. But, oh Lord, it's hard work getting to it and concentrating for long enough on the diversions to track what's actually happening. If there was a point to this, it's completely passed me by. I've listened right to the end - but had to speed the pace up to stop myself turning completely insane. And I still have absolutely no idea what she was trying to say. Sorry VW, but life's too short for this kind of exercise!
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
To say speechless and then find something to say ! An astounding piece of literature though I don't think I could have got through it without Juliet Stevenson's brilliant reading.
2 of 3 people found this review helpful