Meaning: To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf
Plot gives way to interior revelations in Virginia Woolf’s 1927 portrait of the personalities in and around a British family.
In Part I of To the Lighthouse, the Ramsay family – parents and eight children – discusses whether the weather will allow them to sail to an island lighthouse from their vacation home off the coast of Scotland. They don’t go. In Part II, a decade passes without the Ramsays returning to their house up north, mainly due to the Great War. Mrs. Ramsay dies unexpectedly, one of the daughters dies in childbirth and one of the sons is killed in the war. In Part III, Mr. Ramsay and two of his children come back and finally sail to the lighthouse.
It doesn’t sound like much of a plot, and indeed that’s one of the main criticisms from people forced to read To the Lighthouse at school or who plunge into the book because of its reputation as a great classic of early twentieth century English literature. “Is there a story here? I couldn't find it. I gave up,” complained a 1-star reviewer on Amazon. “About as exciting as oatmeal,” said another.