The principal theme of this ambitious book is Time, threading together three generations of an upper-class English family, the Pargiters. The characters come and go, meet, talk, think, dream, grow older, in a continuous ritual of life that eludes meaning.
It’s been a while since we read this for my Virginia Woolf class, so forgive me if I can’t remember everything I wanted to say about it. I definitely flip-flopped about what I felt about The Years–it was boring, it was fascinating, why the hell am I reading this– but by the end I flopped on the side of “really liked it.”
My reading of The Years came immediately after The Waves. Whereas with The Waves I said something like the book would be super boring if it didn’t have an interesting writing style to hide behind, The Years doesn’t have that interesting writing style to hide behind and yet somehow the banality of real life is still intriguing.
I’m not much for books that are just people going around talking about the weather and if that tea pot is going to boil any time soon, but that’s exactly what The Years is about. And yet I liked it! And I think it was partly because of the characters themselves, who aren’t particularly outstanding in personality but are fun nonetheless, and partly because of the concept of the book, which is to follow a single family through 50+ years of life and death. Trying to figure out why one character ended up marrying another and putting the pieces together re:what happened in the gap between two chapters made it sort of like a mystery, almost, and that was fun.
Gah, that was a lot of speculating. Anyway, besides all that, I also liked what VW had to say about people getting old, and I liked Eleanor, who was a free-spirited sort of person, and I liked how the characters took over the story of uber-reality and made it bearable. I don’t like The Years as much as I like Orlando or To the Lighthouse, but I certainly like it more than The Waves. I wouldn’t recommend reading this one first if you’ve never read a VW book before, but I wouldn’t skip it, either.
Read: April 16-17, 2010
Does anyone know what that Sally/Sarah thing was about? Does she have two names? Is she a split personality? Wtf was going on there? The annotations are NO help.