The beginning of the novel didn't impress me greatly. It reads like a poor man's Austen or Bronte sisters. I wasn't expecting much to change this lackluster start. In reading through the other comments, there are some who enjoyed the beginning, whereas disliked the end. Whatever your story preference may be, there is a definite tone switch that leaves you surprised it was ever leading in that direction.
About halfway through, Woolf dives deeper into the emotions of her characters. Rachel, the protagonist, is different from the rest of the party. She struggles with the inanities of those around her, attempting to understanding the substance and meaning of life, and her reason for being here. Her passion of music is belittled. When she tries to change, such as changing the books she likes to read, she becomes angry and disillusioned, while everyone simply believes that she will never amount to anything. It is ambiguous whether it is her state of mind or just a random chance that leads to the ending of this story. At the end, it is interesting that Evelyn, who appeared to be the most shallow when you first are introduced, has the most feelings.
Maybe Woolf is implying that this ending would have happened no matter what. Rachel was an outsider the whole book. Even in a supposed romantic relationship, where she may have found some normalcy within society, there was a vivid wall between her and Terence.
The setting of South America was practically non-existent. I found it peculiar that it was even set there, as nothing of the culture was really described. Even the trip up to the native village...every character was stuck in their little upper class world.
I really enjoyed this and I won't mind re-reading it again. I don't think I really caught onto Rachel in the beginning as I should have.