You might just be wondering why on earth after my poor success with both ‘Mrs Dalloway’ and ‘To The Lighthouse’ today I am once more writing about Virginia Woolf. While a lot of bloggers will be talking about ‘Orlando’ over here I decided that I would do something a little different and yet still in keeping with ‘Woolf in Winter’ by reading ‘Flush’ and trying once again to see if I can get to grips with good old Ginny.
The premise of Flush in many ways I thought would mean that it really wouldn’t work for me. First of all it’s a biography and second of all the subject of the biography is indeed a dog called Flush. Though this is quite an important dog who originally belonging to the writer Mary Mitford (not of the famous Mitford’s, well I don’t think so) and then to the writer Elizabeth Barrett Browning when Mary was poor and Elizabeth was sick. This could have possibly been an utter write off and Ginny and I could have parted ways forever.
Odd then that I really, really enjoyed this book isn’t it? From the very opening paragraphs that take us through the history of the spaniel, which could have easily been a dull read but in some ways became a mini-historical adventure, I was enjoying myself and I hadn’t even met the delightful main character yet. Flush is a wonderful character indeed, he is one of life’s enthusiasts, a bit of a rogue (he is a father before you could even credit it), loyally to the point of fearlessly protective and in his own way very democratic. The fact that he almost becomes human though always clearly a dog is a credit to Woolf and her writing (which I have previously admired though never really ‘got’).
This isn’t just a book about a delightful dog though. Through her subject and using extracts of letters from Mitford and Barrett Browning we see parts of the lives, though in the main the latter, of two wonderful writers. You gain insights into the lives of a Victorian country woman with no money forced to sell her precious pooch and then get whisked into the world of a bed ridden well to do woman on the cusp of love which proves a life changing event for both herself and her beloved dog. (The scenes between Flush and Elizabeth’s suitor are wonderfully written.) Flush is of course the star of this tale and rightly so as clearly both of his mistresses loved him dearly and I dare say any reader of this book will become an instant fan of Flush too.
Though I don’t think I am ready for ‘The Waves’ in two weeks time, I am now much more positive about future Woolf reading and have another Woolf read lined up for a fortnight instead. I am pleased I gave her another shot and just goes to show why even after two books you should never write a writer off!
If you have been reading ‘Orlando’ then do pop over here to where the discussion is going on. First though have you any other Woolf books that are slightly off the well beaten Woolf-ish track? Which authors have you tried and failed with and then tried and fallen in love a little with (their writing rather than the author ha, ha)? Have you read Flush?