Virginia Woolf in Manhattan

Virginia Woolf in Manhattan

3.46 (231 ratings by Goodreads)
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"I have been dragged through time, summoned like a book requisitioned from a distant library," says Virginia Woolf, "resurrected" by modern-day author, Angela Lamb, working on Woolf manuscripts in the New York Public Library's Berg collection.
Angela dumps her irrepressible daughter at boarding-school to pursue her writing, so, when a bedraggled Virginia materialises among the bookshelves and is promptly evicted, Angela rushes to her rescue, chaperoning her wayward heroine.
Virginia drinks in the Algonquin, finds friends' paintings in the Met, and scams bookstores by selling pristine first editions of her novels, inscribed. Visits to independent booksellers make up for her disappointment in finding iconic bookstores closed.
Virginia flies with Angela to a conference in Istanbul, makes friends, finds new lovers, and steals the show at international meeting on - Virginia Woolf.
The novel asks what Virginia would make of contemporary literature, the book trade, love, sex and digital addictions? Are we free-er than in Woolf's day? By showing Woolf's joy in seizing life, Gee challenges the cliché that great female artists are self-destructive, and engagingly shows Woolf's ideas on equality, feminism and bisexuality are as vibrant and important as ever.
A witty, profound novel about the miraculous possibilities of second chances.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 480 pages
  • 130 x 198 x 36mm | 386g
  • English
  • 1909572101
  • 9781909572102

Review quote

"Hang on to your hats, it's a joy", Jane Gardam, author of Old Filth
'I love the work of Maggie Gee: wickedly smart, funny and fearless, plus that rarest of all things, genuinely surprising. Read her.' Patrick Ness
'Hang on to your hats, it's a joy.' Jane Gardam, author of Old Filth
`I love the work of Maggie Gee: wickedly smart, funny and fearless, plus that rarest of all things, genuinely surprising. Read her.' Patrick Ness
'A remarkable feat ... Gee's strength as a writer is to allow the fantastical and plausible to coexist. ... [She] has made Woolf abundantly human once more in this exhilarating novel, with its passages of lyrical beauty that celebrate our material existence' --Virginia Woolf Society of Great Britain Praise for Maggie Gee's Writing 'A wise and beautiful book about what it feels like to be alive.' Zadie Smith
'Worldly, witty, enjoyable, impressive.' Doris Lessing
'Fast-moving, energetic, constantly surprising' Hilary Mantel
'Maggie Gee has never written better' Rose Tremain
Excellent ... Exciting stuff.' Fay Weldon
'A tour de force - brilliantly structured, surprising, humane, and suspenseful' Elaine Showalter
'Brilliant ... just brilliant ... deserves to be published in every language' Hillary Jordan
'Gripping, original and highly entertaining - Maggie Gee at her superb best.' J G Ballard 'So rich it is almost aromatic ... an impressive and important novel.' Nigella Lawson
'Outstanding ... tender, sexy and alarming.' Jim Crace
'Audacious, playful and dazzlingly written' The Herald
'Wickedly funny ... contains lines that sparkle' Sunday Telegraph
'This giddily playful novel is cunning what if ... A gloriously funny, fleet-footed novel.' Metro Best Summer Reads)
'A witty book ... It's got everything in a novel that I really like' Jacqueline Wilson's Six Best Books, Express
'Dazzling ... alternately lyrical and austere ... unbearably touching.' The Observer
'For all its passion and intricacy, is also a very funny book . . . rewarding . . . carefully written, using language echoing the water that ebbs and flows, and eventually floods the pages.' TLS
'Sublimely funny and infinitely subtle, pure delight.' Daily Telegraph
'Energetic and beguiling.' Sunday Telegraph
'Up there with Orwell and Huxley.' Jeremy Paxman BBC
'Maggie Gee is one of our most ambitious and challenging novelists.' Sunday Times
'A fantastic book.' Mariella Frostrup BBC
'She writes elegantly, unsentimentally, expertly.' The Independent
This beautifully observed, intelligent and moving novel is one of those rare things - a small, carefully wrapped surprise that gets better and better with the unravelling.' The Scotsman
'A moving, funny, engrossing book.' The Observer
'A rattling good page-turning yarn.' George Melly
'Mordantly witty, unsparing, politically savvy, a beautifully clear and bracing vision.' TLS
'One of the year's finest novels.' Literary Review
'Compulsively readable.' The Guardian
'Astonishing ... beautifully written.' Big Issue
'A transcendent work.' Daily Telegraph
'Intensely touching.' Financial Times
This beautifully observed, intelligent and moving novel is one of those rare things - a small, carefully wrapped surprise that gets better and better with the unravelling.' The Scotsman
'Maggie Gee is a superb Elegant, humorous and surprising, this is a classy performance.' The Times
'A moving, funny, engrossing book.' The Observer
'A remarkable and ambitious book, a tribute to Maggie Gee's imaginative power.' Literary Review
'The most exhilarating novel I've read all year.' Scotland on Sunday
'Maggie Gee's immense talent catches passion on the wing ... a romance of a truth and depth that's never without humour.' Mail on Sunday
'Most of the creative re-imaginings that critics see as Mrs Dalloway's literary progeny are by male writers, who retell the novel through the eyes and stories of men...An exception is Maggie Gee's enchanting Virginia Woolf in Manhattan, reimagining Woolf as a timeless, global inspiration for women.' Elaine Showalter In a fantastical feminist adventure, three generations of women--including Virginia Woolf, back from the grave--travel the world in pursuit of new opportunities. "Suddenly there's time again; & I'm in it," declares Woolf, the internationally acclaimed literary modernist who committed suicide in 1941, now resurrected in 21st-century New York City due to a thunderstorm and the mental focus of another author and critic, Angela Lamb, who travels from London to the U.S. and then Istanbul to deliver a paper at a Woolf conference. Distinguished British author Gee (My Animal Life, 2011, etc.) doesn't worry too much about the questions arising from her icon's peculiar comeback; she just breezes forward, rather like the revivified Virginia herself, who becomes increasingly eager to embrace her second chance at life. First published in Britain in 2014, the novel is presented in overlapping conversations as Angela and Virginia explore their sudden relationship, which is variously tetchy, competitive, caring, and celebratory. Angela's marriage to explorer Edward is failing, and she has parked her beloved teenage daughter, Gerda, at a boarding school in England for safekeeping during her own absence. But Gerda is being bullied at the school and decides to embark on a trip, too, to find her mother and possibly restore her parents' relationship. Virginia and Angela, meanwhile, enjoy New York, buying clothes, drinking at the Algonquin, and visiting the Statue of Liberty, while bickering over writing, privilege, time passing, and the problems of the book business. Moving on to Istanbul, the novel's conversations and speculations intensify, as do its longueurs and intermittent feel of a travelogue. But the delivery of Angela's conference paper, a rousing paean to Woolf, writing, and seizing the day, heralds a moving conclusion. An imaginative love letter to a literary hero is given vitality, depth, and charm through the playful intelligence of its seasoned author.
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About Maggie Gee

Maggie Gee has published fifteen books to great acclaim in the UK, and her work has been translated into fourteen languages. One of Granta's original 'Best Young British Novelists' (1983, with William Boyd, Kazuo Ishiguro, Julian Barnes), she has been shortlisted for major prizes, including the Orange (now the Women's) Prize, the IMPAC, and been a Booker Prize judge. The first professional writer in her family and from the first generation to go to university (Academic Scholar, Somerville College, University of Oxford), she was the first female Chair of the UK Royal Society of Literature, and is now one of its Vice-Presidents. Gee works as a Professor of Creative Writing at Bath Spa University, writes novels and journalism, and is a Director of the Authors' Licensing and Collecting Society. The Queen awarded her an OBE for Services to Literature in 2012.
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Rating details

231 ratings
3.46 out of 5 stars
5 16% (37)
4 39% (91)
3 26% (59)
2 13% (30)
1 6% (14)
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