Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf

About the book

Clarissa Dalloway is a woman of high-society – vivacious, hospitable and sociable on the surface, yet underneath troubled and dissatisfied with her life in post-war Britain. This disillusionment is an emotion that bubbles under the surface of all of Woolf’s characters in Mrs Dalloway.

Centred around one day in June where Clarissa is preparing for and holding a party, her interior monologue mingles with those of the other central characters in a stream of consciousness, entwining, yet never actually overriding the pervading sense of isolation that haunts each person.

One of Virginia Woolf’s most accomplished novels, Mrs Dalloway is widely regarded as one of the most revolutionary works of the 20th century in its style and the themes that it tackles. The sense that Clarissa has married the wrong person, her past love for another female friend and the death of an intended party guest all serve to amplify this stultifying existence.

Reviewed by Sheet WI

Provoked thoughts and discussion but not easy to read. Very evocative descriptions but depiction of characters’ physical attributes not so good

star rating ***

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The Little stranger by Sarah Waters

About the book

In a dusty post-war summer in rural Warwickshire, a doctor is called to a patient at Hundreds Hall. Home to the Ayres family for over two centuries, the Georgian house, once grand and handsome, is now in decline. But are the Ayres haunted by something more sinister than a dying way of life?

Reviewed by Chandler’s Ford Tuesday PM

An engaging mystery that follows the fortunes and non-fortunes of an old aristocratic family struggling with a decaying stately home. You decide…is it supernatural, mental illness or murder?

Star rating: ***

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The Greatcoat by Helen Dunmore

About the book

In the winter of 1952, Isabel Carey moves to the East Riding of Yorkshire with her husband Philip, a GP. With Philip spending long hours on call, Isabel finds herself isolated and lonely as she strives to adjust to the realities of married life. Woken by intense cold one night, she discovers an old RAF greatcoat hidden in the back of a cupboard. Sleeping under it for warmth, she starts to dream. And not long afterwards, while her husband is out, she is startled by a knock at her window. Outside is a young RAF pilot, waiting to come in. His name is Alec, and his powerful presence both disturbs and excites her. Her initial alarm soon fades, and they begin an intense affair. But nothing has prepared her for the truth about Alec’s life, nor the impact it will have on hers …

Reviewed by Lymington U3A Reading Group:

Imaginitive, well written and researched. Evocative of the post war living conditions of life of the air men, but did go beyond belief. Gave us a lot to discuss on “what would i have done/felt”.

Star rating: **-***

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Days of Hope by Lyn Andrews

About the book

It’s 1945 and the war is finally over. For the Devlin family in Liverpool, the wartime years have been almost too much to bear. But at long last sisters Grace and Chrissie can return to their normal lives. Level-headed and hard-working, Grace wants nothing more than to meet a nice man and settle down. Vivacious Chrissie, though, craves fun and excitement – and there’s not much of that to be had in the austere post-war years. So when Chrissie meets Pat Kilroy, a handsome Irishman, she’s swept off her feet and eagerly follows Pat to Ireland. Chrissie soon realises she has made a terrible mistake, and Grace rushes to her side to help. But the consequences of Chrissie’s actions are to be as far-reaching as they are devastating.
 

Reviewed by Fawley/Holbury U3A reading group:

We all agreed that this is an extended ‘Mills and Boon’, with poor characterisation and an obvious story line. The happy ending was obvious, with no surprises. There was very little for a group to discuss – apart from how feeble the book is – and none of us felt inclined to read further books by this author.

Rating: 1 Star

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