Orlando, by Virginia Woolf

Orlando tells the story of an English nobleman living during the reign of Elizabeth I. At the age of 30 he mysteriously turns into a woman, then lives on for 300 further years. He is an aspiring writer and poet, and meets many people over his/her life.

At the start of the book, he falls in love with a Russian princess, Sasha, who then abandons him on the night they are to elope. The descriptions of his love for her were so detailed and identifiable that I thought sure they would end up together again somehow. I was a bit disappointed at the end when they did not. I thought the story was to be about how love endures over time and regardless of gender, and I imagined that they’d meet again when Orlando was a woman, and still love each other even though he had become she.

The book did not go that route though. Orlando travels through time always working on her poem, The Oak Tree, and meeting various people. In the end she meets and instantly marries a sea captain by the name of Marmaduke Bonthrop Shelmerdine (???) who, although he dresses like a woman sometimes, is still a man. I was slightly disappointed that she ended up marrying normally, and marrying a fairly normal man, as was expected of her, and it seems a sort of mild end to an otherwise ‘out there’ novel.

Though it lost me a bit at the end, I enjoyed it a lot. The writing was very clever and I laughed quite a few times.


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