Virginia Woolf: Flush

This story of Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s cocker spaniel, Flush, enchants right from the opening pages. Although Flush has adventures of his own with bullying dogs, horrid maids, and robbers, he also provides the reader with a glimpse into Browning’s life. Introduction by Trekkie Ritchie.

Most of us know Virginia Woolf’s work:  Mrs. DallowayTo the LighthouseOrlando. However, did you know she also wrote a little novella about a special cocker spaniel named Flush, who cared for and helped Elizabeth Barrett Browning? I only recently found out about it, and even though it is one of her lesser known works, it deserves way more recognition than it gets!

This quick novella is only 204 pages, and took me maybe an hour to read–but it’s completely delightful. Flush gives us Miss Barrett’s life from the aristocratic dog’s view, and which is a creative way of looking at a person’s emotions without usual filters of conversation or human judgment. For example, the human emotion of jealousy is translated into Flush’s view of Mr. Browning–clearly he is imposing on Miss Barrett, and so he must be bitten and told to go away.

The book is both comical and sad, and Woolf’s genius for storytelling certainly does not fall short in her tiny narrator. I highly recommend this, especially if you’re a fan of her other works–or, if you’ve never read Virginia and have been looking for a way to break into her books, this is a good one to start with (although Dalloway is pretty damn good too).

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