Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf (Banned Books Week)


Mrs. Clarissa Dalloway is preparing for a party.  As she walks through London on a fine June morning, picking up fresh flowers, decorations, and finding just the right dress.  As she prepares her home for the event, she is flooded with memories of her past -from Peter Walsh, whom she spurned years ago, to her daughter Elizabeth, the girl’s angry teacher, Doris Kilman, and war-shocked Septimus Warren Smith, who is sinking into madness.

As preparetions for the party continue, a series of events intrudes on her composure. Her husband is invited, without her, to lunch with Lady Bruton (who, Clarissa notes anxiously, gives the most amusing luncheons). Meanwhile, Peter Walsh appears, recently from India, to criticize and confide in her. His sudden arrival evokes memories of a distant past, the choices she made then, and her wistful friendship with Sally Seto…


"Mrs. Dalloway said she would buy the flowers herself" ~ first sentence

Hmmmm….  as  close the book on Mrs. Dalloway I am left with this one lingering thought…


I have never read anything by Virginia Woolf before, and with banned book week upon us I felt that this would be a great time to read this book I picked up earlier this year at a sale… this book, Mrs. Dalloway which is considered to be Virginia Woolf’s best book, as well as a banned book.

As I read through this 177 page read I found it to be rather detail oriented, flitting from one topic and one character to the next.  The twenty plus characters al play a role in Clarissa’s memories but also you get a peek into their own as well.  The book is to be a day in the life of Clarissa Dalloway as she deals with the present and the past.  Really for a book published in 1925, the idea behind the book is brilliant.

There are strong subject matters that float through the pages…. feminism, suicide, and apparently referenced homosexuality (more on that at the bottom of this review)

I think for me, who has recently been immersed in dystopia fiction, a steampunk novel on audio, as well as a modern-day thriller….  I found Mrs. Dalloway to be a bit of a bore. I hate to say that I do…. but being honest here, the book more than likely came to me at the wrong time.  It happens.

Am I glad I had an opportunity to try Virginia Woolf?  Yes.  But as for me and Mrs. Dalloway, I think we are going to agree to part ways as mere acquaintances.

“It’s not you Clarissa, it’s me. “


So… Mrs. Dalloway?  Why are you a Banned book?

Mrs. Dalloway was banned in some communities because of the homosexual attraction of Clarissa to Sally at Bourton.  Apparently there is a reference as well of Septimus being haunted by the image of his dear friend Evans. Evans, his commanding officer, is described as being “undemonstrative in the company of women”.


I purchased this book earlier this year at a library sale for my classic collection


42 thoughts on “Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf (Banned Books Week)

  1. Okay, I’ll say it…I couldn’t stand this book! I didn’t care about the party, or Mrs. Dalloway, or any of it. I struggle with Woolf’s writing. It’s just not my cup of tea.

  2. She has never really appealed to me. I have something by her on our shelves, but have never picked it up. It may be headed to the library book sale soon, every week I make myself pick some books from what we own to donate. Earlier I gathered a pile of ten to drop off when I go tomorrow. I figure a little at a time will be less painful and eventually we’ll have a manageable collection.

  3. I’ve never really been a fan of Virginia Woolf. I find her writing, like much writing of the same time period, is tedious in description. The story itself is not bad, but it could have been half as long as it is. Thanks for such an honest review 😀

  4. I have never read Virginia Woolf, and since I gather you won’t be nominating it for next year’s Book Club classics book read, I probably won’t either. Since I struggle with classics anyway, thanks for the heads up on one I probably shouldn’t waste my time on.

  5. I tried reading Mrs. Dalloway after I’d finished The Hours (in which the book Mrs. Dalloway is a centerpiece), and since I’ve been wanting to give her a whirl, I thought: why not? But I didn’t finish it.

    Maybe the timing was wrong…but this week, I’m trying one of her other books, To the Lighthouse. And if I can’t make it through that one, we’ll have to part as acquaintances as well. But who knows? Maybe I’ll love this one.

    1. I “try” to read classics Pam. Our book club reads one every October, and that is mainly to give us a deeper grasp of the classics and the books that are considered to be all great. Most cases…. they make for fun reviews but we usually struggle with the read.

  6. I’ve heard that this is the worst book to start with when it comes to reading Virginia Woolf. I wouldn’t know though, because I haven’t read anything of hers yet. Those references to homosexuality are so veiled I don’t think i would have even noticed.

  7. I read this in my high school AP English class senior year. I had to give an hour presentation on it. I didn’t like the book. The stream of consciousness writing style is not my thing. However, it made a wonderful presentation because there was a ton of information on it. I didn’t realize it was a banned book though.

  8. I’m planning on reading this after I finish Keeley Thomson: Demon Girl. I have an advanced review and it’s a bit more pressing, since the attempted banning crud is going on at this moment.

    The reviews here don’t help for this one, but I’m hoping that I like it anyway. I’m an optimist that way. The Demon Girl book is decent so far. I DO get why some Christians would be a little put off though. Lol! The story basically cuts their legs off without giving them a chance to reply.

  9. I’m sorry you didn’t love this one, Shelia. It’s one of my favorites. 🙂 But then, i love everything Virginia Woolf did. I will say though, for the Woolf virgin, I probably would’ve recommended you start with The Voyage Out (even though I don’t think that one was “banned”.) I hope you give her another try sometime. 🙂

      1. Oh, yeah you should! She’s one of my favorites. I had a professor in college who assigned To the Lighthouse, and that’s when I fell in love. It’s just that, if you start with her first two books (The Voyage Out and Night And Day) and go from there, up through to Mrs. Dalloway, you get a better sense of the evolution of her style. Those first two are the more straightforward novels of hers, before she started experimenting with her style. I just love, love, love her! I wish I could write like her! 😉 Sorry, didn’t mean to write you an essay.


  10. Very interesting….Virginia Woolf is on my list of Authors I Can’t Believe I’ve Never Read. I have a feeling I might react the same way you did to this one, though – it does sound a bit dull!

    The reasons for it being banned seem ludicrous! Fascinating…


  11. The homosexuality aspect isn’t really surprising because Virginia Woolf and her husband were part of the Bloomsbury Group, some of whom were homosexual. It wasn’t really uncommon at all in the people they knew well.

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