I've come to realise that any book I read for my course in the moment of reading it I will hate it. Just a little. The actual story and concept of Orlando I adored. The fact I've had to read it in under a week not so much. Don't get me wrong, I'm a quick reader. I'm talking a three GoT books in two weeks quick reader. But I don't like deadlines for reading books. Not when I then have to try and read the book that we'll have all of THREE hours studying next week. Did I mention I also have to read a play a week too? For updates on my reading head to my twitter. At present its a hodgepodge of fluffy animals, manic panicking and stress all fuelled by coffee. Delightful no?
Back to Orlando. The novel itself was originally titled Orlando: A Biography. A confusing title in and of itself considering the fact that its fictitious, for the most part. However, there has been speculation that it somewhat follows the life of Virginia Woolf's lover Vita Sackville-West. The novel takes place for the most part in Vita's ancestral home at Knole. A veritable palace with 365 rooms.
For the most part this story seemed to have elements of magical realism though at the time of writing (1928) I don't believe that concept had been fully realised. The novel starts as Orlando is a young boy of sixteen just beginning to realise his place in the world. He's a bit away with the fairies and prefers to spend his time writing poetry. We see him grow into a man of thirty and follow his many loves and loathes. Then he becomes a woman. Not in the conventional sense, instead three personifications (?) appear and cover his sleeping body (at this point he has been asleep for days) then he wakes a woman. Oh and all of this spans over three centuries. Orlando sees monarchs take to the throne and die, they outlive their friends and family.
If anything what I see in this is that Woolf suggests that time is as much a construct we are told exists much in the way as gender is. If you have any interest in gender studies, the fluidity of sexuality or slightly bizarre but heartwarming stories I highly recommend you give this a go. I'm definitely going to look into picking up some of her other works.