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?

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?

La Luministe, a Lush Art Novel by Paula Butterfield

When I heard about this book, I knew I’d buy it. There are books like that. Since I’m an Impressionism geek and feminist, when I heard that Paula Butterfield had written a novel about Berthe Morisot, one of the few women on the forefront of the Impressionist movement, I was thrilled.

Then I learned that my Victorine Meurent, the main character of my novel, makes an appearance in La Luministe, and I squealed. (A fun thing is that Morisot shows up in my book briefly as well.)

If someone had asked me what I’d like a novel written about, I’d have said this. And I wasn’t disappointed.

But before I discuss the content, let’s look at the cover. You’ve got this amazing painting, At the Ball, by Morisot, which depicts a woman with a fan. Here, though, the painting is partially, tantalizingly, obscured. If you continue your gaze downward, you’ll be rewarded by a bit of what we assume is an easel, complete with a lovely, paint-spattered brush at the bottom. That brush! I want to hold it.

As one who has carefully studied mid-19th century Parisian art history and its chief players, I greatly admired and enjoyed the story, once I allowed my gaze to stray beyond that fabulous cover. In fact, Butterfield assumes the mantle of our “luministe” as she enlightens us about what it was like to be a painter during a time when respectable women did not paint beyond pretty little scenes to make them seem accomplished to suitable husbands.

Though artist Berthe Morisot sustains a lifelong longing for the unobtainable Edouard Manet, she manages to break free from both society and familial expectations enough to become a painter of note herself in the newly bourgeoning Impressionist movement. In the end, she ultimately finds herself at “repose,” as one of Manet’s paintings of her is titled.

This book is moving, well researched, and told with painstaking detail. It was a delight to read.

Manet’s Mania for Chokers

In Victorine, my historical novel coming out in the next few months, I write about the black choker Edouard Manet paints Victorine wearing. I imagine it as his bootlace, called into service on the spot.

Later, I give Victorine adoring fans who purchase and sport chokers with her as Olympia in lockets. It hardly offsets the cruelty she experiences in the streets after the “scandalous” nude painting was exhibited.

But Victorine is not the only one of Manet’s models to wear chokers. While I wouldn’t dismiss out of hand someone psychoanalyzing the painter and his predilection for encircling his model’s necks, I prefer to chalk it up to his respect and regard for fashion. Few paint fabric and fashion of the day the way he did.

When I stumbled upon this collage on Instagram, I knew I had to share it with you. Thanks, guzelonlu, for this lineup.

Four of the images pictured are Victorine. Can you tell which?

Bonus points if you can tell me the titles of those paintings. First one to comment gets a shoutout from me on Twitter.

#Manet #ArtHistory #Art #Impressionism

My novel, Victorine, featuring Edouard Manet’s favorite model, is on its way!

Victorine. I spent months researching about her, writing about her. Dreaming of her.

Meurent montage

She was Edouard Manet’s favorite model. She was her own favorite model, too, when she went to art school and became a painter! Needless to say, this novel is historical fiction, in case that’s your jam. (I adore it!)

The collage above shows paintings of her not only by Manet, but also by Alfred Stevens.

It seems I’ve shared the news everywhere but over here. Guess what? She’s on her way!Late this year or early next, I will my book about her in my  hands. I can’t wait!

She will be published by Fleur-de-Lis Press, and I couldn’t be happier!

Did I mention this is my first novel? Surely you can imagine how much happy dancing has been happening in our household! I even wrote an essay about it. More on that later!

In the weeks and months to come I’ll be sharing more of the Victorine story: what drew me to her, my discoveries along the way, and more about the paintings she sat for. More of her history.

If you want to know more, please follow me on the social medias: Twitter (@dremadrudge), Facebook (Drema Sizemore Drudge), and Instagram (Drema Drudge).

Hubby and I are launching a podcast, Writing All the Things, in June 2019, and I daresay Victorine news will spill over to it as well. You can learn more about it at: writingallthethings.com. Or join our Facebook Writing All the Things Podcast Group.

What would you like me to share with you about Victorine? I’m open.

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