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February 10th, 2009

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05:21 pm - Orlando
I am behind on book reviews. Oh no! I reread Orlando by Virginia Woolf in January. Jon gave it to me in December of the first year we were dating because he knew I liked androgyny and had enjoyed the book himself. It is a very weird little book. It's hard to know where to start on this one. It is the story of a man born during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I who doesn't age and eventually becomes a woman. It's very episodic, and Orlando is an odd fellow/lady who occasionally sleeps for a week straight and wakes up somehow changed. He falls in love with a Russian princess who abandons him, is the patron for a poet who mocks him, is an ambassador in Turkey, where he becomes a woman, joins a gypsy caravan, gets back to England, has a lawsuit against her because she is either dead or a woman and therefore can't own property, meets a lover, has children, and is presumably still alive today. The book often seems like an inside joke that I am outside, and I've read up a little on Woolf's history and still don't "get" it. But it was fun to read, if not easy. I know that a lot of it is based on Vita Sackville-West's family history. Vita was Virginia's lover for a while, and it was quite the scandal. Many people describe the book as a love letter to Vita, and I can see how the character of Orlando could definitely be an idealization of one's beloved. I enjoyed rereading it, and I must try to reread more in the future. I definitely retained more of it this time. I am in the middle of two other books right now, but maybe the one after those will be another reread.

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