This novel follows Clarissa Dalloway as she plans and throws a party for the high society in London. It follows both her and a selection of guests through their thoughts, feelings and conversations before and during the event. In a seemingly unrelated story, the novel also follows Septimus Warren Smith and his wife Rezia. They also live in London, he was in the War and he met Rezia whilst in Italy where she made hats with her sisters. He is suffering from a form of post-traumatic stress disorder which was undiagnosed at the time the novel is set (early 1030's). He is talking of killing himself and has visions of his officer who died during the war in front of him.
The two stories intertwine nicely and I enjoyed getting to know all the different characters. Clarissa is a funny lady, I wasn't sure what to make of her. It seemed she didn't quite get what she wanted out of life and was a bit silly, yet at the same time she was well liked and well thought of by all (with only one exception). Most of the characters were flawed and dealing with different kinds of unhappiness. Mr Dalloway was never really able to tell Clarissa that he loved her, their daughter missed the country, Peter Walsh never really got over loving Clarissa, Rezia missed home etc. The person I probably felt the most sorry for was Rezia. She married a charming English war hero, who then took away all affection for her after a few years of marriage. She left all her friends and family to be with him and was desperately unhappy. I wonder if she returned home after the end of the novel.
It was due to end with Clarissa killing herself originally. I am really glad Woolf changed the story to exclude this as it really wouldn't have felt right. She wasn't satisfied with what she had, but it would have seemed unjustified had it ended so abruptly. Very real and well told, a good snapshot looking into the lives of others and the human condition.