March Book of the Month: Orlando

This month, we thought long and hard about what we should read. It’s hard to follow The Unbearable Lightness of Being. We’ve been getting such amazing feedback from you guys about our picks! It makes us so happy that we get to introduce you to amazing books, old and new, that somehow show you a different , opalescent reflection of our world. In a recent Instagram poll, you overwhelmingly voted towards another classic…and we got a great one for you guys.

The change of sex, though it altered their future, did nothing whatever to alter their identity.
— Virginia Woolf, Orlando

Virginia Woolf's Orlando ('The longest and most charming love letter in literature'), playfully constructs the figure of Orlando as the fictional embodiment of Woolf's close friend and lover, Vita Sackville-West. Warning: if you have read Woolf before, this book isn’t particularly “Woolf”-esque. Or at least what we recognize as her. Orlando isn’t very good at representing her body of work because its a wildcard of sorts. Some people who hate her other work, praise Orlando, and vice versa.

Woolf did not write this book for her readers. She specifically wrote it for Vita Sackville-West (it originally included photographs of her in both feminine and masculine clothes), and therefore Woolf does not go what she would not normally do in her writing. It is not dipped into the well of melancholy, but instead takes on the form of a literary homage, homage to reading and writing.

As our society becomes more open with gender roles and what gender means in personal identity, Orlando becomes a tale less obstructed by our ingrained perceptions, making for a more beautiful reading experience. Spanning three centuries, the novel opens as Orlando, a young nobleman in Elizabeth's England, awaits a visit from the Queen and traces his experience with first love as England under James I lies locked in the embrace of the Great Frost. At the midpoint of the novel, Orlando, awakes to find that he is a woman…and just proceeds to live through a couple more centuries.

Orlando, saturated with Woolf’s love and admiration for Sackville-West, is an absolute must read. We really hope you enjoy it!