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Between the Acts Paperback – October 21, 1970
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'Together these ten volumes make an attractive and reasonably priced (the volumes vary between L3.99 and L4.99) working edition of Virginia Woolf's best-known writing. One can only hope that their success will prompt World's Classics to add her other essays to the series in due course.'
(Elisabeth Jay, Westminster College, Oxford)
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Top Customer Reviews
The novel takes place on a single day in June of 1939 at an English country manor called Pointz Hall, owned by the Olivers, a family with such sentimental ties to its ancestry that a watch that stopped a bullet on an ancient battlefield is deemed worthy of preservation and exhibition. Every year about this time, the Olivers allow their gardens to be used by the local villagers to put on a pageant for raising money for the church. This year, the pageant is supposed to be a series of tableaux celebrating England's history from Chaucerian times up to the present.
The Olivers themselves are tableaux of sorts, each a silent representation of some emotion separated from the others by a wall of miscommunication. Old Bartholomew Oliver and his sister, Lucy Swithin, both widowed, are now living together again with much the same hesitant relationship they had as children. Oliver's son Giles is a stockbroker who commutes to London and considers the pageant a nuisance he has no choice but to suffer. Isa, his discontented wife, feels she has to hide her poetry from him and contemplates an extramarital affair with a village farmer.
Attending the pageant is a garrulous woman named Mrs. Manresa, who is either having or pursuing an affair with Giles. She has brought with her a companion named William Dodge, whose effeminate sexual ambiguity is noticed with reprehension by Giles and with curiosity by Isa.Read more ›
The novel focuses on one household and its guests for the summer pageant, a recap of English history through the ages that serves as counterpoint to the characters. It is often difficult to separate the actors in the play from the acts that the central characters are putting on for one another. The main character is Isa, the wife of a stockbroker. She finds that she loves and hates her husband, and finds herself drawn to another man, but she would never act on those feelings. Her husband, Giles, meanwhile, is willing to act on such feelings, especially when he becomes captivated by a guest at the house, Mrs. Manresa, a supposedly free spirited woman, whose "freeness" feels very much like an act. As these characters watch the pageant unfold, their emotions surface and they are forced to confront this array of feelings that all of this playacting has brought up.
"Between the Acts" is an elusive story, one that is hard to sum up and one that can be even harder to follow. This last work of Woolf's is truly more like elegiac poetry than prose. The beauty is in the rhythm and sounds of the words on the page, floating around like the cabbage white butterflies the author describes.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Abolishes the old and false naturalisms and realisms and established a new authethic naturalism and a new authenthic realismPublished 4 months ago by Duane Locke
The book is absolutely wonderful, but the scan is terrible. There are typos on almost every page, sometimes several. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Robert W. Mack
To me there is never a grand coming together or summation of all the disparate points in this novel. But maybe it's me. Read morePublished 13 months ago by The Man in the Hathaway Shirt
Virginia Woolf, once the most avant-garde of English novelists, now seems very out of date. None of her books is really a masterpiece, and this, her swan song, is arguably the... Read morePublished 23 months ago by reading man
Wonderful views of the spectrum of English class and society just before World War II, including the famous mirror scene at the end. Read morePublished on January 25, 2014 by something wild
Virginia Woolf (1882 - 1941) was a well known writer, critic, feminist, and publisher. This was her last novel, and it is a departure for Woolf from prior styles, and many like the... Read morePublished on July 23, 2007 by J.E.Robinson
Much of the writing is beautiful and evocative, but it's hard to know what's going on. The summaries posted here have more "plot" in them than is easily gleaned from the book. Read morePublished on July 9, 2005 by Gwen Orel