To the Lighthouse

Narrated by: Nicole Kidman
Length: 6 hrs and 37 mins
4 out of 5 stars (664 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

To the Lighthouse is Virginia Woolf’s arresting analysis of domestic family life, centering on the Ramseys and their visits to the Isle of Skye in Scotland in the early 1900s. Nicole Kidman (Moulin Rouge, Eyes Wide Shut), who won an Oscar for her portrayal of Woolf in the film adaptation of Michael Cunningham’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Hours, brings the impressionistic prose of this classic to vibrant life.

Split into three parts, the story observes Mrs. Ramsay, Mr. Ramsey, and their children at their vacation house on the Isle of Skye. While the novel follows seemingly trivial events between the family members, the plot takes a backseat to philosophical introspection, which gave the novel its fame as an icon of modernist literature. The Ramseys' quest to recapture meaning creates a powerful allegory of man’s impermanent battle with the tangible world.

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©1927 Virginia Woolf (P)2012 Audible, Inc.

Critic Reviews

"If Virginia Woolf herself can’t narrate her 1927 novel To the Lighthouse, then Nicole Kidman - who won an Oscar for her role as Woolf in 'The Hours' - is the next best thing. With her cut-glass Australian enunciation, Kidman skips nimbly between the minds of each character at the Ramsays’ Scottish summer cottage, slowing and softening to convey the sobriety of Mrs. Ramsay’s maternal guilt ('she was certain that he was thinking, we are not going to the Lighthouse tomorrow; and she thought, he will remember that all his life'), and tightening her voice to reiterate time and again one houseguest’s sneer that women 'can’t paint, can’t write.'” (The New York Times Book Review)  

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

A book that will challenge you to think.

Earlier this year I read A Room of One's Own which was so unbelievably good that I was blown away. I was shocked by Ms Woolf's smart and intuitive view of the roles of gender. She took problems that I have seen in American society over the last 50 years, and explored the causes and the solutions. She was opining on the problems for women who lived a century and a half ago -- and yet it felt completely modern. That book could have been written in 2017. I will recommend it to every woman I meet for the rest of my life.

So I was very excited to read more of her writings. I purchased this one and Mrs Dalloway. I think this book is probably a five star read -- but it is NOT an easy read. One cannot be distracted or tired. One cannot allow her mind to wander away from the words on the page. This is not a book that entertains. It makes one think. It allows the reader to revel in the beauty of language. It challenges. I will be reading it again soon in hopes that I will digest more of the story she told, because I think I missed much too much of it this time.

Nicole Kidman played Ms Woolf beautifully in film and read her words equally as beautifully here.

7 people found this helpful

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Classic Virginia Woolf stream of consciousness

This is beautifully read by Nicole Kidman. Wolfe is not always easy to follow so you have to pay sharp attention to figure out the story. Nothing too dramatic happens as the story traces the summer home of a large family over the years and watches the developments and losses. Almost everything is from the view of women and the daily household happenings. Men and affairs of the outter world revolve around them almost without touching them except for big issues like deaths, marriages, wars. It is really lovely.

12 people found this helpful

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I had a hard time with this

Any additional comments?

Nicole Kidman does a fantastic job, but boy oh boy that stream of consciousness style is HARD to listen to! I was exhausted. I had to put this aside. I didn't finish. Maybe for another time or possibly listened to in short bursts.

Good luck out there.

11 people found this helpful

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Wonderful combination of text and narrator

To the Lighthouse is one of Virginia Wolf's best novels, which is to say it is one of the great novels of the 20th Century. Nicole Kidman's narration catches the complexity and intelligence of Wolf's novel, without showy excesses. This is a remarkable audio book.

11 people found this helpful

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A mesmerizing work of intimate brilliance

This is only the second work of Woolf's I've read, and overall it presents an intimate portrait of a family who lives near a lighthouse. The frail assumptions, the insecurities, the tiny triumphs, the rare moments of insight are all captured here with a stream of consciousness technique that is as lovely and flowing as the sea. The many wars play a fundamental role in shaping the narrative as male and female characters explore the meaning of the opposite sex and both fail to understand the needs and desires of the other. These inner conflicts are amplified by the moment to moment actions of this story's cast. A loving experience, I wish I could have experienced this work with fewer daily distractions myself. I can't wait to read the rest of Woolf's all too short bibliography.

4 people found this helpful

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More about form than plot, but the form mimics life itself

The first time I read this book I was lost. I did not recognize that the narrators constantly shifted. Woolf does not present through a narrator, but multiple. The novel meditates on how we perceive what we know and want for one another and shows how these perceptions affect our relationships.
My advice for listening to this book is to follow along with a written copy your first time through. The text is layered. Remember that as characters speak of painting, they are speaking of the novel and life itself.
Nicole Kidman does a flawless job, which by my definition means she reads at a good pace, a good volume, and is easy to understand.

3 people found this helpful

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Nicole Kidman does a fantastic reading

If you could sum up To the Lighthouse in three words, what would they be?

Absolutely crazy wonderful

Who was your favorite character and why?

Each of the characters were important in their own way, but I think that William Banks was my favorite.

Which character – as performed by Nicole Kidman – was your favorite?

Nicole performed the Omnipotent narrator in such a way that she made me believe that she sould actually see into the minds of the characters.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

It would have been impossible to sit and listen to this in just one sitting. It is a story that I could take in the information for about forty-five minutes, then sit quietly and process all that had happened.

11 people found this helpful

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  • MH
  • 02-06-20

lowered speed to 0.70

The book was amazing with Nicole K as narrator. My all time favorite Audible book!

2 people found this helpful

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Perhaps my favorite Audible book

Sure, the book is challenging. It's not structured around a plot but is about relationships, about changing roles of women, about loss, about the experience of all of these in one's life over time. Compare the "astonishingly beautiful" Mrs. Ramsay, the woman who dominates the first part of the book—a matchmaker who links happiness and marriage—with Lily Briscoe, the woman who dominates the last part—an intentionally unmarried artist who paints in spite of the claim by the pretentious doctoral student that "women can't paint, women can't write." At the end, she finds her (artistic) vision after a long struggle. The instances of loss are stunning because of their understatement. The first and last sections are linked by the lyrical bridge section, "Time Passes." The house decays as lives fray, before both are patched up somewhat at the end. People endure even if imperfectly. Nicole Kidman is perfect at reading. I think Virginia Woolf got into her head and soul when she played Woolf in "The Hours." Her voice is quiet, like the novel's, and I thought her pacing and expression were elegant. I've listened several times and always hear more.

2 people found this helpful

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A Genuine Classic, Beautifully Read by Kidman

To the Lighthouse is of course one of Woolf's best known and loved novels. The rich narrative of late-Victorian family life dives deep below the surface of intimately drawn characters. Kidman's patient, graceful reading of Woolf's winding prose elevates the beauty of the story.

1 person found this helpful