|This month's review is another classic, another addition familiar to regular visitors. The author of this particular novel is one of our favorites, and her works, by now, should be easily recognizable to our visitors. If not this is another fine reason to give this author a try. Read on, dear patron, and enjoy.|
The Voyage Out, as its title alludes, is a modern addition to the legendary voyage tales of old. It brings the reader out of the familiar English landscape and focuses the reader almost exclusively on the object of its narrative. The life of our heroine, Rachel Vinrace, is at a crossroads, and a standstill, as se sets out from London, with her chaperone, and a plethora of colorful characters, on a voyage whose destination is the tropical paradise of South America. But for Rachel's family, they hope it will be a flowering, for the girl.
Rachel, on the other hand, has her own ideas. She has no intention of coming out, at all. She would much rather remain quietly ensconsed with her music, and her old maid aunts (who she has left back in England, this time out). Nonetheless, she finds herself thrust into a society, of sorts, albeit a society of ship-board, and hotel-tethered tourists; politely, she listens to each and learns what they wish her to learn; she listens as they speak of their children, glowingly, or argue politics vehemently, or recite poetry dramatically. She finds several friends, and now and again finds herself perplexed by many of the people whose paths she crosses. Probably the most devastating to her psyche, is the brief appearance of two characters of which Ms. Woolf would write more, in later years: Richard and Clarissa Dalloway. Though they spend very little time in her acquaintance, we are led to believe they have a major impact on her view of the couples who are slowly pairing off around her; Richard, finding Rachel attractive (for all her youth), gives her all th attention she would rather not have, and finally, gives her a kiss which strikes her as wholly inappropriate, and yet sticks with her, throughout the remainder of the novel.
After their departure, Rachel continues on silently, going on excursions, or attending meals and parties with the now solidified band of the confident, soon-to-be law student St. John Hirst, the sullen writer, Terrence Hewet, and her steadfast guardian Helen, among an almost endless list of other persons; she watches silently as several of the entourage become ill, or engaged, and finally Rachel herself becomes engaged, to Terrence. And yet, Rachel, as much as she tries to believe she is falling in love with Terrence, as he has her, and to sustain that love, she seems skittish. As much as she surrenders, she pulls back; and even as she agrees to marry him, she is altogether uncertain of her willingness to do so.
Will she marry Terrence? Or will she somehow decide on St. John? or will she return to her unmarried aunts, and London, having made no decision? Or will she remain ever distracted by the dramas of the other travelers around her?
That intrigue makes up the crux of this, yet another lovely Virginia Woolf novel. (In fact, those who know something of Virginia Woolf will recognize much of her young adulthood, in this novel) And though one can tell this was Virginia's first novel (1915), and her unique Modernist style not quite solidified, as yet, it shows all the beauty that she was just waiting to pour forth upon the world. Give The Voyage Out, a try. We are hopeful you will enjoy this wonderful tale.