September 7, 2014

Portrait of a marriage

      Always, Mrs. Ramsay felt, one helped oneself out of solitude by laying hold of some little odd or end, some sound, some sight. She listened, but it was all very still; cricket was over; the children were in their baths; there was only the sound of the sea. She stopped knitting; she held the long reddish-brown stocking dangling in her hands a moment. She saw the light again. ... but for all that, she thought, watching it with fascination, hypnotised ... she had known happiness, exquisite happiness, intense happiness, and it slivered the rough waves a little more brightly, as daylight faded, and the blue went out of the sea, and it rolled in waves of pure lemon which curved and swelled and broke upon the beach and the ecstasy burst in her eyes and waves of pure delight raced over the floor of her mind and she felt, It is enough!  It is enough!
      He turned and saw her. Ah! She was lovely, lovelier now than ever he thought. But he could not speak to her. He could not interrupt her. He wanted urgently to speak to her now that James was gone and she was alone at last.  But he resolved, no; he would not interrupt her. She was aloof from him now in her beauty, in her sadness. He would let her be, and he passed her without a word, though it hurt him that she should look so distant, and he could not reach her, he could do nothing to help her. And again he would have passed her without a word had she not, at that very moment, given him of her own free will what she knew he would never ask, and called to him, and taken the green shawl off the picture frame, and gone to him. For he wished, she knew, to protect her.

from To the Lighthouse, by Virginia Woolf

Oh, this book! This lovely, lovely book.



JoAnn said...

I *really* need to read this book.

Cosy Books said...

Me too, JoAnn!

Elizabeth Bowen's writing has the very same effect, Audrey, so keep her in mind when in need of a really good literary fix.

Audrey said...

I think you'd both love it! I remember now that I read it in college, but I don't remember it being this wonderful. It's the kind of writing where you (hokey as it sounds) want to let the language just wash over you. JoAnn, I already have the Juliet S. reading downloaded from Audible. It has to be incredible to listen to. :)

JoAnn said...

Oh my - Juliet S. narrating sounds completely irresistible! I'm sure there will be points to use before renewing my membership in Nov/Dec. Thanks for telling me.