Kristie Alley might consider offering Leah Remini prospective reconciliation in an invitation to visit the Hebrides, the setting for Virginia Woolf’s complex interweave of family relations in To the Lighthouse. Forget Modernism and its granite like edifice as a movement. If anything deserves a revival, it is learning to listen to authors like Woolf without the influence of the syllabus, without stitching the phrase “Bloomsbury group” front and center every time you pick up one of her titles.
Published in 1927, To The Lighthouse is the story of Mrs. Ramsay’s nearly intangible control over her husband, their eight children, known friends, and the odd poverty stricken scholar who in contemporary terms would be a faculty member; there is Lily Briscoe, a painter more adept at reading people than wielding brushes and colors to display what she sees, or Mr. Carmichael, the unfathomable guest who doesn’t pay homage to charity’s vanity.
The novel challenges readers, without being inaccessible, on the nature of personal identity, the motives for contentment or lack thereof. Life portrayed here on these small idyllic isles isn’t insensible to urban social intelligence. It only suggests more rewards in its alternative, with fantastical elements, wondrous as a first winter storm.