Books: Breeches to Crinolines

ORLANDO—A Biography—Virginia Woolf—Harcourt Brace ($2.50).

The Story. To race on the tide of five centuries, to be a man for a while and know the thrill of mastery, to be a woman for a spell and know the subtler ecstasy of submission, to grow older in understanding without losing bodily vigor or mental finesse—this is the enviable life, and this is the life of Orlando.

Sixteenth Century. Orlando knelt in crimson breeches, offering the Queen a bowl of rose water before she dined. He saw her crabbed sickly...