Miss Rachel Vinrace, aged twenty-four and previously interested only in music, is on a voyage both literal and metaphorical. An ocean cruise with her father leaves her for the summer at her Aunt’s villa in an unnamed South American country, where she meets the English inhabitants of the local town’s hotel. As the season progresses she starts to become entangled in their own lives and passions, and through those burgeoning acquaintances and friendships the discovery of her own nature grows.
The Voyage Out is Virginia Woolf’s first novel and was a labour of love, taking her five years to complete. Even though heavy editing was required to reduce some of the more politically charged themes before its publication in 1915, it still bemused some contemporary critics and even garnered accusations of “reckless femininity.” Time however has proved kinder, with the book demonstrating the key points of Woolf’s future style. It even has the first appearance of Clarissa Dalloway, the titular protagonist of Woolf’s later and more famous novel Dalloway.