Woolfians, in a lengthy VWoolf Listserv discussion, have deduced (I use the term loosely) that June 21 just might be — or at least the Woolfers have deemed it so — “Clarissa Day,” that day in June on which Mrs. Dalloway takes place, the Woolf counterpart to Joyce’s Bloomsday on June 16. I’m not going to recap the evidence, but rather I’ll do what I usually do, which is to talk about a book I’ve just read.
I think I first saw An Unexpected Guest by Anne Korkeakivi mentioned here, in one of Paula’s weekly lists of Woolf sightings in the media. As a circadian novel (one taking place in a single day), it was compared to Mrs. Dalloway – as all such novels are — in its own book jacket and in reviews, including one by Margot Livesey. Of course I had to read it.
The narrator is Clare (!) Moorhouse, an American living in Paris, married to an English diplomat, Edward. Her life is full of social responsibilities, and tonight she’s having an important, politically-charged dinner party. She goes through the day preparing for the party, with flashbacks to her past and the love of her youth, the Irish firebrand Niall. Niall was the dangerous one; Edward is the safe and reliable one. Sound familiar? What about the flowers, you ask?
Of course, she could have called in an order to the florist, but as with the asparagus, choosing them herself was better.
The drama and intrigue in Clare’s life would have set Clarissa’s heart racing; there’s far more than country-house dallying in her past, and it becomes its own a highly-charged story. But you can see the pattern, the hints, the loose outline conforming to type. It doesn’t matter whether you see a Woolf behind every tree or not–Korkeakivi’s first novel is a valiant effort and a good read. Put it on your list for summer!