What a fantastic book, it completely transported me through time. I loved Virginia Woolf’s sense of place; the frozen lake, the gypsy camp, London through the ages – all were very vivid and moved smoothly from one to another, keeping Orlando’s house as a constant through the centuries. Whether Orlando herself/himself changes many times, or whether not, I shall let you decide for yourself.
The book is romantic, not romantic love but it portrays a romantic view of the past. Within the first chapter we skate along a frozen river with a Russian princess in furs. I was there, it was freezing, it was exciting and it was beautiful. Then we live in a gypsy camp and towards the end of the novel we experience a day in the new post WWI department stores and busy streets of London.
Orlando has a lot to say about clothes, gender and identity. It is interesting that she considers that how she dresses influences her behaviour, thoughts and who she is; she does not dress to reflect who/ what she is. In fact, dress is often used in the novel to disguise gender and identity.
This is definitely going to be a reread for me as I know there is so much more to get from this book.
Would I recommend this book? YES! I have held Mrs Dalloway on a pedestal. To me, she was the perfect Virginia Woolf novel. However, it looks as if she might need to make some space for Orlando up there.