Here's what Virginia Woolf wrote in her diary when she discovered this new technique, this new form of a novel, for which later she became known:
"The day after my birthday, in fact I'm 38 and happier today than I was yesterday, having this afternoon arrived at some idea of a new form for a novel. For I figure that the approach will be entirely different this time. No scaffolding, scarcely a brick to be seen, all crepuscular but the heart, the passion, humor, everything is bright as fire in the mist."
"On Sunday, Leonard read through Jacob's Room. He thinks it's my best work, unlike any other novel. Neither of us knows what the public will think. There's no doubt in my mind that I have found out how to begin at 40 to say something in my own voice."
Where do I begin with - her first novel in which she experimented the streams-of-consciousness technique?
Like most of her novels, Virginia Woolf doesn't like to stuff a plot into her works ("No scaffolding, scarcely a brick to be seen,..."). Jacob's Room is merely a portrait of Jacob Flanders' life, since he was a child until his death in the war. But you don't get to see his life through his perspectives, you only know him from what others think of him. But no one sees Jacob the exact same way. To his mother he's mischievous and curious; to his friend at the university, he's an intelligent man;... And so this portrait seems so unreliable, full of sketches, no sharp pencil lines to be seen, all misty, like an impressionist painting.
Comparing this novel with a painting is actually appropriate. Because the using of colors in this book is truly amazing, especially in the first few chapters - where Woolf uses all kind of plants, of flowers, of insects (mostly butterflies), of the water... to color her novel. At some point you will able to see the pages suffused with colors.
However, as much as I appreciate the beauty of her prose, it was a very boring read for me, which explains why it took me so long to finish it, beside the fact that I'm a huge procrastinator. I find characters in incredibly boring, unlike those in Mrs. Dalloway, to whom I can relate very well. In fact, Septimus and Clarissa are two of the most remarkable characters I've ever encountered in novels.
To sum up, this is a book that I only read for the writing and I would not recommend it to those who have never read Virginia Woolf. But for those who enjoy her writing, and considering that this is her first experiment with the streams of consciousness, I think it would be an interesting experience to see where she began.