Let the Reading Begin! Mrs. Dalloway, Day 1

Welcome to my Autumn of Virginia Woolf! We will spend the ENTIRE MONTH on this slim novel, so feel free to take your time. I don’t have a particular reading schedule in mind — schedules were made to be broken, in my experience. Please add your thoughts or questions in the comments, or just read along this fall. (Although autumn is a prettier name for it, isn’t it?)

Here’s the version I’m reading. Show us yours in the comments!

To begin, I will post a series of interesting articles, quotes, etc. Now and again I will pop by with thoughts on sections of the novel itself, of course.

Let me make this abundantly clear — while I am a fan of Woolf’s writing, I am no scholar. Every time I read something of hers, I learn something new, have a new thought. I hope it will be the same for you.

Where did you encounter Woolf for the first time?

For me, it was in a literature class in the 90’s. We read Three Guineas and A Room of One’s Own. In a later class, I read Orlando, and the world of fiction as I knew it exploded.

Still, for no known reason, even though Woolf had changed what I knew of the world, I didn’t seek out any of the rest of her literature. I don’t know why. I acknowledged that she was brilliant, but I didn’t even know she had written more fiction. No one mentioned it, and I had so much reading to do as an English major it didn’t occur to me to check into her further. Of course I now regret that, and yet I suspect I can appreciate and understand her work much better at this age than then, so in the spirit of “All’s well that ends well,” I also don’t regret it.

And I hadn’t forgotten her along the way after leaving school. When the film of Orlando came out, of course my hubby and I watched it, mesmerized. I re-read Orlando, and yet I still didn’t think to see if she had written more novels. Go figure.

That being said, when I returned to school many years later, I wrote my senior thesis on To the Lighthouse and was asked by my advisor to read and include Mrs. Dalloway as well. At the time I felt put upon, because my life was hella hectic. But after I read it I was grateful. (Lighthouse is still my favorite, but Dalloway is also important and innovative.) I’m eager to revisit the book, focusing on it alone.

Here’s a link to an article to ten interesting facts about Mrs. Dalloway I think you’ll enjoy. I learned a lot from it.

P.S. I do not at all promise to post every day, but I will be back every few days at the least.

Have you started reading it yet?

You’re Invited to a Jane Austen Wedding (And Autumn of Woolf Reminder!)

Okay, so I confess: I am a HUGE guinea pig lover. So when I ran across this yesterday, I couldn’t resist sharing it everywhere. If you haven’t seen it yet, it’s totally worth its running time of a minute or so.

Just a reminder that our Autumn of Woolf begins next week. I’ll try to pop in here and over in my Facebook group The Painted Word Salon with some pre-reading Woolf material, but time tends to get away from me. (Still in the ending throes of the second novel, attempting to catch up on Writing All the Things podcast episodes, too. Good things but busy making.)

Remember, we’re starting with Mrs. Dalloway. Let’s take a deep dive into this world together. We will be studying the book for an entire month, so join in early, midway, or late. I’d love to hear from you whenever.

P.S. Mrs. Dalloway is now in the public domain in some countries, so it is available to read online free many places. Alas, its copyright doesn’t expire until 2021 in the U.S.

Have literary (or other) cuteness to share? Let’s see it!

An Interview and ANOTHER Giveaway!

How happy I am to start off this Wednesday morning offering you another book giveaway!

I’m thrilled to announce that artist and author Lilianne Milgrom has interviewed me over on her blog. If you head on over there, you’ll be able to read it and find out how to win a copy of my very own Victorine for your very own. 🙂

Victorine as Lady of 1866 by Manet

An Autumn of Woolf Schedule

I’m so excited to be committing to an autumn of Virginia Woolf! I can’t wait to share this time with all who care to join in.

We will study a book a month for four months. Read and chime in any time throughout the month. Your comments, observations, photos, article links, and the like are welcome.

Remember: join me here or on Facebook in the Painted Word Salon.

September 20 Mrs Dalloway

October 18 To the Lighthouse

November 22 Orlando

December 20 A Room of One’s Own

True, these on the schedule are her better-known works, but what’s to stop us from talking about her other books in the future?

Do you have a favorite not listed here?

A Book Giveaway: L’Origine!

First of all, let me say hello to my new readers. This week has brought an uptick of 150% over my usual readership, and I’m delighted to have you here!

Feel free to say hello, to share your thoughts, or just sit back and enjoy. May you become as obsessed with Victorine and art as I am!

My September newsletter comes out next week, and I am pleased to announce that Lilianne Milgrom will be offering one copy of her novel, L’Origine, to one of my subscribers. I recently reviewed her wonderful book about artist Gustave Courbet’s most (in?)famous painting and its journey after its creation.

So if you haven’t subscribed, now’s the time; trust me, you want to win this book! Subscribe here, or on most any page of my website. Instructions for entering the contest will be supplied in the September newsletter.

P.S. More to come soon about my Autumn of Woolf. It’s a real thing, to be featured over in my Facebook group The Painted Word Salon and here some as well; schedule coming soon.

Virginia Woolf enjoys a smoke and a think.

The End of My Second Novel as I Know It…and I Feel…#BetaTime

What do you do after the draft of your current work in progress is done, when you’ve handed it over to a beta reader for what you hope will be the last time before you send it out? From nowhere, suddenly there are free hours, days, to fill. What to do??

Here are some things writers do with that silence, that tearing of the topic from your mind because if you think on it any more you’re going to want to add things to your novel, and you can’t. Not yet, maybe not ever, if it’s as finished as you suspect it is. Stopping is as important as starting.

If you had a book just come out in March 2020 (What’s that, you haven’t bought my book yet? Let’s fix that: http://amzn.to/2QoEqXM, or contact me for other ways to buy), you have plenty of outreach you’d still like to do. So you do some of that, which takes courage. It’s also fun, though, connecting with folks who enjoy the arts as much as I do.

Beyond that, there are the usual suspects:

  1. Catching up with relationships. While face-to-face interaction isn’t really viable for the most part just now, I’m trying to say hey on social media or by text to those I’ve neglected. (What’s that, I could call them? What’s a phone call?)
  2. Binge watching all the things. Well, to be honest, I never stopped doing that. The muse refuses to work 24-7 even though I ask him to.
  3. Reading. There’s another area I have been doing all along, yet I’ve been able to step it up on reading friends’ projects and reviewing books, something I enjoy doing.
  4. Household projects we bought supplies for months ago now. Okay, well, we haven’t started yet, but I’ve been thinking about getting started.
  5. Fretting about which novel I will write next. I have a stack of ideas, but I know what a commitment it is to say yes to an idea, how much research it takes (years), not to mention the topic that is uppermost in my mind is going to be challenging in multiple ways. That, after I promised that my next novel would be anything but, just to give myself a break. Nope, no break here.
  6. Tweak those things that could use it: website (on the list), household organization
  7. Get on even one of those writerly projects all writers are “supposed” to do: apply for grants, write short fiction and submit, submit stuff for (possible) awards, stay in touch with writer friends (I do a decent job of that), enrich the writing community, be innovative, on and on…
  8. Personal goals – my lists have lists on that front.

I know I’m not alone in this simultaneous feeling of loss and freedom when finishing up a project.

What do you do when you get to the end of a project, writing or otherwise? Let me know!  

L’Origine, a Review

When Lilianne Milgrom contacted me about reviewing her novel, L’Origine, I was astonished at the perfect fit of subject matter and time period with my sensibilities. A mutual acquaintance steered her my way, and I couldn’t wait to receive and read Milgrom’s book. I was right to anticipate it.

In 1866, Gustave Courbet painted one of the most provocative paintings ever painted, L’Origine du monde (The Origin of the World). The painting depicts a breast-down view of a faceless, naked woman with splayed legs, an unheard-of subject for its time.

Milgrom, an accomplished painter herself, opens her novel with her experience copying Courbet’s famed painting. I found her account of the process of getting permission to be a copyist at France’s Musée d’Orsay and her painstaking copying of L’Origine just as riveting as the novel portion of the book.

The author begins the novel proper with the controversial painting’s origin (no pun intended) and traces it through the history of each of its owners. Its journey through the world, through historical events such as Nazis asking for a ransom for its return, and on to its current home at the d’Orsay, is captivating.

It’s not surprising that the book is at times lusty, from individual encounters of painters with lovers to the, ahem, private uses of the resultant painting. One wishes the men so taken with the carnal nature of the painting would have spent more time dwelling on the metaphorical nature of it, on the deeper meaning of a woman’s vagina being the origin of us all, but that is a historical, societal shortcoming and not the author’s.

Milgrom’s fresh idea of following the painting’s sojourn mimics the physical act of birth, the passing on of power and life from one generation to the next, fitting in beautifully with what I believe to be the artist’s intent. Having once stood before the painting in contemplation myself, I was thrilled to read such a careful, loving account of it.

Rich with accurate historical detail combined with a creative imagining of what happened with the painting behind closed doors that no one could possibly know but that everyone wants to, Milgrom skillfully encapsulates the story of a painting with her discerning, artistic eye. Brava.

Nota bene: Milgrom obviously chose not to use Courbet’s controversial painting for her book cover, but it’s only a google away.

My Autumn of Woolf

Many of you know that I am borderline obsessed with Virginia Woolf’s writing. To me, nobody, and I mean nobody, writes like her.

A sampling of my Woolf books

Before COVID-19 hit, author Gretchen Rubin had announced that she was going to have a summer of Woolf, which she subsequently postponed until fall.

Having just (I think) finished a tight draft of my second novel, I’m already feeling lost. Since Woolf plays a part in my book, what better way to feel I am still doing something constructive than to read all of her works this autumn? Thanks for the idea, Gretchen!

And Gretchen Rubin isn’t the only one contemplating a fall of Woolf. Literature Cambridge is also offering a series on Woolf’s major works: https://bloggingwoolf.wordpress.com/2020/08/17/virginia-woolf-season-with-litcamb-covers-her-12-major-works/

I have 2 1/2 bookshelves dedicated to not only Woolf’s novels and essays but also her letters and diaries. My intention is to eventually revisit all of her available writings. I have no idea where I will start; I think I will start with her first novel and the first volume of her letters and her journal for the corresponding time period.

And of course I will keep up with the Literature Cambridge schedule. I’m so excited! I love learning.

The hubby is also getting in on the Woolf action. He is currently reading Orlando. And he’s been reading volume one of her letters to me a bit at a time, which I find downright precious.

What are you planning to read this fall?

Newsflash: VICTORINE Keeps Readers Up Past Bedtime!

Many thanks to the gracious Suanne Schafer for reviewing Victorine for Midwest Book Review, although I suppose I owe her an apology for my book keeping her up reading until 4 a.m.

Suanne, you’re the best.

Read her review here: http://www.midwestbookreview.com/rbw/aug_20.htm#suanneschafer

She is not the first reader to tell me she has stayed up late reading my novel, and boy can I relate! Many a book has similarly kept me awake into the wee hours, and I have to admit I’m thrilled to have been the cause of others’ booksomnia as much as I also feel guilty for it.

What’s that, you don’t have your copy yet? Buy it here.

lighted candle on white book beside black glass bottle
Photo by Taryn Elliott on Pexels.com

The Drudge Duo Live Today!

I was recently a guest on the Heart-Centered Life YouTube channel and podcast with gracious host Alina Ng Boyte where we had a great conversation on merging your passions if you happen to have a career in a different field. Here’s the link, if you missed it.

She has invited me back today, May 21, to do a live reading of my book at 5 PM EST.

What’s more, she has invited the marvelous Barry Drudge to play music that he created just for my novel, Victorine, as well.

We hope you will join us this afternoon. There will be a special offer for viewers of it!

Here’s the link for today’s broadcast. (Of course you can also watch it after the fact if you miss it live.)