Book Review: Adeline: A Novel Of Virginia Woolf

SPANNING 1925 to 1941, this richly imagined novel of Virginia Woolf delves deep into her psyche, drawing perhaps too heavily on the biography written by Hermione Lee, which lends it enormous accuracy.

Book Review: Adeline: A Novel Of Virginia Woolf

* Adeline: A Novel Of Virginia Woolf

* Norah Vincent

* Virago, €22.50; ebook, €9.99

* Review: Emma Herdman

An exploration of the events that led to Woolf’s eventual suicide, the book is haunted by Adeline (Woolf’s given first name), realised here as a 13-year-old apparition of herself, beckoning her towards her eventual death.

This does give the novel a desperately sad insight into Woolf’s mental state — her guilt about the ever-practical Leonard, for example — but is, for this reader at least, the book’s undoing.

It’s worth reading for so many wonderful scenes, from Woolf’s meeting with Dora Carrington to Vincent’s portrayal of Lytton Strachey, but although ‘Adeline’ sheds light on Woolf’s earlier life and mental landscape, she becomes a distraction and an affectation: one which this lush novel could sail along without.

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