As last month’s title was such a long read, we thought this month we would choose something a bit briefer – Virginia Woolf’s Between the Acts.
Set in 1939, it is based at Pointz Hall, a country house, on the day of the annual summer pageant. This pageant is a patriotic celebration of English history, and the whole local community has come along, including the inhabitants of the Hall, villagers, and visitors. The book begins before the play’s prologue, and finishes after its conclusion, with dialogue from the pageant mixed with the descriptions of the actions, reactions and conversations of the main characters.
This book didn’t really give us much of a discussion, as we all seemed to have a fairly universal dislike of the story – in fact several of us felt that the characters were actually in search of a plot.
The main characters were felt to be caricatures rather than people making it hard to care about what happened to them, and whether they were Establishment or Bohemian, or neither.
There was a distinct feel that we were waiting for something to happen – one reader mentioned that they felt that Just William (Richmal Crompton) would have improved the plot, while others were waiting for a murder to be announced as the novel had a slight Agatha Christie feel to it.
The overly flowery descriptions certainly seemed to get in the way of the narrative, and it was hard to tell if the story was really going anywhere. Possibly because we already knew this was the last novel written before her suicide, we felt there was a tendency to analyse rather than enjoy the story but it felt more like an English Literature A-level text than something that should be read for pleasure.
As the author didn’t edit the work, some critics believe that the novel should be classed as unfinished. Whether Virginia Woolf did finish writing it, only one of our reading group managed to finish reading it.
Our choice for March is The Midnight Library by the extremely talented Matt Haig.
It has been described as “A celebration of life’s possibilities…” (The Guardian)
“A beguiling read, filled with warmth and humour, and a vibrant celebration of the power of books to change lives.” (The Times)
Which should make it a perfect read for our Wellbeing Reading Group. Come and pick up your copy from the Education Centre Library in Warwick today.
Find out more about our reading groups here
Take a look at the blog posts for our previous reads here.