On April 18, 1941, twenty-two days after Virginia Woolf went for a walk near her weekend house in Sussex and never returned, her body was reclaimed from the River Ouse. Norah Vincent’s Adeline reimagines the events that brought Woolf to the riverbank, offering us a denouement worthy of its protagonist.
With poetic precision and psychological acuity, Vincent channels Virginia and Leonard Woolf, T. S. and Vivienne Eliot, Lytton Strachey and Dora Carrington, laying bare their genius and their blind spots, their achievements and their failings, from the inside out. And haunting every page is Adeline, the name given to Virginia Stephen at birth, which becomes the source of Virginia’s greatest consolation, and her greatest torment.
Intellectually and emotionally disarming, Adeline—a vibrant portrait of Woolf and her social circle, the infamous Bloomsbury Group, and a window into the darkness that both inspired and doomed them all—is a masterpiece in its own right by one of our most brilliant and daring writers.
Virginia Woolf is one of the icons of twentieth century British literature. She and her fellow writers of the Bloomsbury Group are some of the most influential authors of the previous century and every student of English Literature has been assigned at least one of their works to read for class. As was I. As it was, I liked some of the Bloomsbury Set’s works, and those of their contemporaries, I had to read better than I did others—couldn’t get through Joyce’s The Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, really enjoyed Eliot’s The Waste Land and Woolf’s Into the Lighthouse, and adored E.M. Forster’s A Room with a View and Howard’s End. So when I discovered that Houghton Mifflin Harcourt was publishing Adeline by Norah Vincent, a historical novel about Virginia Woolf focusing on her mental state and the events that drove her to choose her final journey into the Ouse, I was intrigued to read it and when I was offered a review copy I happily accepted. Read More …