That’s what Carol Anshaw said when I asked her about the reference to Woolf in her newest novel, Carry the One. The story weaves in and out of the lives of several people for 25 years following a momentous event that had a great and lasting impact on each of them.
So, the scene in question: Alice is talking to her sister Carmen about her volatile on-and-off relationship with Maude, who also happens to be Carmen’s sister-in-law. Alice says: “‘She can try all the men she wants. She’ll come back to women. She’s a bloodhound who’s been given the scent of the glove.’”
“Carmen was always a little startled (and titillated) when Alice said things like this. She wasn’t sure if this was her sister’s way of being shocking, or if lesbians all talked this way among themselves. It always tripped her up. She used to imagine love between women as a languid extension of friendship. Something Virginia Woolf-ish involving tea and conversation and sofas and afternoon eliding into evening, a small lamp needing to be turned on, but left unlit.”
Carol Anshaw added to the above response about Woolf: “when I read her letters maybe 30 years ago, I loved seeing her get swept off her feet by Vita. Then I read Victoria Glendinning’s biography of Vita and fell in love with her big, arrogant, blundering passage through life.” So we see how fitting this particular name-dropping is.
But Carol’s fascination with Vita has taken on a life of its own in a series of paintings (she’s multi-talented), the Vita Sackville-West project. Several are posted on her website.