Dorothy Richardson, or Dorothy Millar Richardson is not at all well known.
There are reasons for this:
1 The style in which she wrote Pointed Roofs was, at the time, new and difficult (it had never been published before) - it was later termed Stream of Consciousness, although she preferred the term Interior Monologue. It was published in 1915 predating Proust, Woolf and Joyce, better known exponents of S-o-C.
2 The thoughts and feelings of the central character, Miriam Henderson, are explicitly feminist, insisting on the authority of a woman's experience and world view. A difficult view in 1915.
3 Pointed Roofs explores Miriam's sympathetic response to German Culture, which in 1915 Britain was an unpopular subject.
Which is a great shame, imho.
Pointed Roofs is the first part of a thirteen part sequence called Pilgrimage. Richardson considered Pilgrimage to be one novel and the thirteen parts to be chapters. It is semi-autobiographical.
I found out about Richardson when I was idly surfing the web and up came upon a website listing authors of S-o-C and she was first on the list. The rest of the list is open to question so I won't post a link.
Pointed Roofs is only 185 pages long but it took me a great deal longer than I anticipated to read it. It's extremely detailed. Frankly, what you read is every eye-brow raise and every intake of breath as well as every single thought and feeling of the central character Miriam Henderson, but you don't read about any of the other characters. They are only mentioned from Miriam's point of view. I found it challenging to read this level of detail and (and point of view) so some days I found that I could read for longer than others. I did, however, find it fascinating. I feel that the prose is not as compelling as Woolf's or Faulkner's and Richardson's S-o-C seems to be diffierent to Woolf's and Faulkner's. It's very, very difficult to describe. Her prose comes across as detached somehow and cold/unfeeling whilst also conveying the feelings of her main character.
Pointed Roofs is about the experiences of the main character, Miriam Henderson, when she leaves home at the age of 17 to work in Germany as a teacher. It conveys her first year away from home.
The book has not dated at all, in spite of the fact that the characters have gas lamps for lights and travel by horse and coach, however, in this epoch we are not surprised that women go out to work, hold opinions and are sympathetic to foreigners. I can only guess how shocking that must have been in 1915 when at war with Germany.
I thoroughly enjoyed Pointed Roofs although I must say I think it's weird - having read S-o-C by Woolf and Faulkner I found this form enitrely new and surprising, which I enjoy. It will take me a while to get used to it. Will I read all thirteen? I don't know and that's what's exciting.
I highly recommend this to anybody who wants to explore Stream of Consciousness and who doesn't mind a challenge.
This is the second part of the thirteen part novel known as Pilgrimage, more of Miriam Henderson's life from her point of view. It's written in the stream of conciousness technique.
I loved it and will carry on with all thirteen parts.
Recommended but only if you like stream of conciousness
In Honeycomb by Dorothy Richardson, the third 'chapter' of Pilgrimage, we find Miriam working as a governess to two children, preteen, a boy and a girl, on a wealthy Society family's estate. Relieved to be living in luxury as her own family's fortunes plummet, still she can't reconcile herself to the shallowness of the rich.
The strength in Richardsons writing, which was apparent finally in Backwater, is here in full flower. This is a very mature and sure handed work! She knows what she wants to say, and does so with great effect. Miriam has a way of seeing through the masks and pretenses of people, through their falsity and insincerity and, really, their inauthenticity. And she despairs over the apparent lack of Grace in this world, but recognizes that it is there in every note of light, and even in the steam of the beef-tea. But it is constantly obscured by the artifice and frivolity and tunnel vision and greed and shallowness of the way we live our lives. Considering that nothing really happens in this book (or in the other 2 for that matter) , and that even after 3 books Im still not always sure who's talking, or whether Miriam is thinking or saying things, and that turn of the last century social classes and mores is something I have zero interest in, I am very pleasantly surprised to give this book 4stars.