Woolf and Dickens Challenge – ‘The Waves’ and ‘Hard Times’ (September 2013)

I have challenged myself to read one of Woolf’s and one of Dickens’ work each month for the remainder of the year.  My first Woolf during this challenge was marvellous, but my first Dickens was rather disappointing.

The Waves  by Virginia Woolf ****
The Waves felt almost like a deconstructed play.  The scenes were all set in italicised text, and the story told by way of the protagonists speaking.  This technique was such a clever one, and one which suited the plot incredibly well.  In the novel, Woolf follows six characters from childhood to death, and she does so marvellously.  Her prose is utterly beautiful, as I knew it would be.  I loved the almost stream of consciousness style used throughout, and its use made the novel both rich and eloquent.  Life and death, and the possible beauty of both concepts, are spoken about in the most profound of ways.  This is a novel which I can imagine myself reading time and time again, merely for its beauty.

Hard Times by Charles Dickens **
This is not the most exciting of books to take on an early morning flight, that’s for sure.  It is nicely written, of course, but I found the plot rather sparse almost from the beginning.  The characters, unlike Dickens’ usually vivid constructions, were rather two-dimensional, and very easily forgettable.  Hard Times is interesting enough from a social perspective, due to the way in which the story – or rather, what little there is of it – is set against the backdrop of an industrial town, but with regard to the dull characters who people said town, it seems a very uneven tale.  Hard Times ranks extremely low with regard to the other novels of Dickens’ which I’ve read to date.  I found myself getting very bored almost from the first, and I really had to slog my way through it.  Fingers crossed my next Dickens read will be much better than this one!