Following on from the Woolf In Winter Read Along I am keen to keep reading Woolf's novels and any other Woolf related fiction, biography etc.. That's why I jumped at the chance to read the latest selection from The Not The TV Book Group's reading schedule - Vanessa & Virginia being discussed this weekend over at Other Stories.
Vanessa & Virginia is a fictional account of the lives of the sisters Vanessa Bell and Virginia Woolf and it captures the period from their childhood up until adulthood and Virginia's death. I think having a vague understanding of knowledge of the background to the sister's lives was helpful in reading and enjoying this book but certainly not essential. I think the author has created a beautiful stand alone story of the lives of two sisters - loving companions but also rivals in their creative and personal lives. The fact that the story focuses on two such famous and interesting people is a bonus for me!
Susan Sellers' writing style and descriptions are divine - from the beginning of the story I was hooked and I had entered the world of the characters completely. I find this an amazing skill that some writers have - to make me care about what is happening within the story - to care about the outcome. I thought it was particularly clever in this situation when the story and the lives of the characters are so well known to many.
I could open any page of this novel and quote a beautiful, lyrical passage - I found the way the author paralleled her writing style with the creative pursuits of Vanessa and Virginia wonderful;
The frame of a window, blue paint blistering in the Mediterranean sun. I am arrested, dazzled by colour, the cascading searlet of a pot of hibiscus, the glaring whitewash of a wall. It is as if the colours, first separately, then collectively, strike a series of notes that sets up a resonating chord in me. I am impelled to paint it.
An amazing book in both content and structure and one that has only made me want to continue my Woolf reading even further.