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Orlando by Virginia Woolf - Review

Monday, April 17, 2023

You might remember that I am doing an Oxfam reading challenge this year. I will donate some money to them at the end of the year when I've completed the challenge. This month's prompt was "A classic", so I went for Orlando as I had picked it up in February at The Bookish Type's sale. I had never heard of it but then I'm really not one for classics at all. This book took me six days to read for this reason. The sentences are so long and everything is so wordy! I had to really concentrate on the book so although I did enjoy it, I won't be rushing to read something else in a similar vein.

So, Orlando is an Elizabethan nobleman who serves as a page for the Queen and is a favourite of hers. He attends one of the Frost Fairs on the Thames and falls in love with a Russian princess called Sasha. Their romance is doomed, though, and she leaves him. Orlando starts to write an epic poem called The Oak Tree, meets a poet called Nick Green, and is eventually appointed as ambassador in Constantinople. There he falls into a coma-like state and can't be awoken. When he does awake, he has become a woman. 

This she accepts quite readily. She joins a gypsy clan but eventually heads back to England. There, because of her sex, she can no longer inherit the family home, money, and titles, so she's embroiled in a legal battle over this. Time has moved on; she sees several centuries throughout her life. She meets a sea captain and marries him on a whirlwind. He leaves for the Cape of Good Hope and Orlando once again meets Nick Greene, who, like her, seems to never age and is slipping through time like she is. 

I did like the book and am glad I persevered with it. Orlando accepts her sex change without too much consternation and has many ideas about how differently women are treated throughout the more than three hundred years she witnesses. I'm giving this four out of five. 

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