Virginia Woolf – a Gift

While being transported to and from snow-filled Anchorage, in an improbable silver tube 35,000 feet above the earth, I had one of those ‘what would VW think?’ moments – my ears full of Mozart and mind full of London and Sussex. One of the highlights of a wintry trip to Anchorage a week ago was the three-hour flight each way. Really – because of Alexandra Harris’s book “Virginia Woolf.”

In her foreword, Harris calls her book “a first port of call for those new to Woolf” – “an enticement to read more.” The book really works for that purpose – it is a captivating introduction to this so-special person. For someone who knows Woolf well, it’s a reminder of the pleasures – the everyday, treasures that fill Woolf’s novels, diaries, essays, and letters – and of the complicated people and relationships that animated Bloomsbury.

Harris’s book felt like a 200-page tour of those years when I read so much of VW’s life and work. The narrative is chronological and lively, Harris pauses to discuss a book in just enough detail to make you want to read or re-read. It captures what have always been my favorite things about Woolf – her belief in the solace of work, the necessity of work, and her curiosity about everyday details.

It’s a slim, beautiful book also – honoring bookmaking with thick paper, a ribbon place marker, and the perfect number of photos of all the important people and places.

I hope it’s under lots of Christmas trees.

4 thoughts on “Virginia Woolf – a Gift

  1. Just 5 minutes ago I was reading about this VW bio in the London Review of Books and thought of you! Why does it not surprise me that you’ve read it? xo

    p.s. neat falling-snow effect (had to check my glasses first!)

  2. Is that Virginia on the tail section of that Alaska Airlines plane? Where the smiling Inupiat in fur might loom, ordinarily?
    Thanks for the enticing heads up about the book. Perhaps best not to read this one on my iPhone or iPad, if the thick paper and ribbon placemark are that lovely.

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