This one bit in Chapter 12 is one of my favorites...we've all been in Ralph Denham's shoes, when faced with the reality of a person who we've fixated on for hours, days, weeks, only when we see them in the flesh again, we're struck by how different they are from the coveted dream...
His eyes were bright, and, indeed, he scarcely knew whether they beheld dreams or realities. All down the street and on the doorstep, and while he mounted the stairs, his dream of Katharine possessed him; on the threshold of the room he had dismissed it, in order to prevent too painful a collision between what he dreamt of her and what she was. And in five minutes she had filled the shell of the old dream with the flesh of life; looked with fire out of phantom eyes. He glanced about him with bewilderment at finding himself among her chairs and tables; they were solid, for he grasped the back of the chair in which Katharine had sat; and yet they were unreal; the atmosphere was that of a dream. He summoned all the faculties of his spirit to seize what the minutes had to give him; and from the depths of his mind there rose unchecked a joyful recognition of the truth that human nature surpasses, in its beauty, all that our wildest dreams bring us hints of.
Katharine came into the room a moment later. He stood watching her come towards him, and thought her more beautiful and strange than his dream of her; for the real Katharine could speak the words which seemed to crowd behind the forehead and in the depths of the eyes, and the commonest sentence would be flashed on by this immortal light. And she overflowed the edges of the dream; he remarked that her softness was like that of some vast snowy owl; she wore a ruby on her finger.
From Night and Day, Chapter 12
I find it to be a very funny book at the same time as beautiful...I've read it so many times, I'm going to need a new copy, my paperback is falling apart!
"Books are a school for character, she argues, because they change (like people) as we read them, and change us as we read. Books read us." Virginia Woolf, Hermione Lee, Chapter 23, Reading, p. 397