I don't understand this book yet. But this is because I don't understand life yet. There is so much Clarissa Dalloway in these 190-some pages, and so much of many of us in Clarissa Dalloway. I expect to learn from her in rereadings throughout the years.
From the day's first task of buying flowers, we are taken through the experience of a day as a microcosm of the daily grind of life, that which we relive each day and during which we relive the totality of our lives. While Mrs. Dalloway's inner thoughts and associations are played out, those of other players she encounters are revealed as well, though these experiences never intersect. We see how different the impressions of events and people appear to different characters, and also that these misconclusions will largely never be reconciled. To describe the book in this way is to be reductionist, though. It is about much more than simple misunderstandings, yet at its center are the pains caused by inabilities of characters to truly understand each other.
I didn't expect to be drawn in by Woolf's flowery writing and meandering, introspective subject matter. I found much to recommend her, though. I don't know that I'm thrilled that her style and subject matter have been so influential on the past century's writing so as to glut the market with so-called "literary fiction" that is more style than substance; but because Woolf's writing is at least equaled in substance to its impeccable writing style, she is more than worth the read.