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The Hours

by Michael Cunningham

The Hours by Michael Cunningham X
The Hours by Michael Cunningham
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  • First Published:
    Nov 1998, 230 pages

    Jan 2000, 230 pages


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There are currently 38 reader reviews for The Hours
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Anton Ivanitski

My bio was "against" the novel. Because it is written in English. Because my major is French literature. Because I am a political journalist. Because I had read "Home At the End of The World" and thought I would never read anything better.

Still I found "The Hours" marvellous!

The whole plot is that of Hugo's tradition. However, you don't have to break through the "letters" - the style is plain and doesn't make you struggle through.

Yes, it is an intelligent novel. Yes, the author is sincere. Anyhow, the main thing is the fact that the writer has a lot to say - and that is the "purpose" of art. The characteristic, unfortunately, lost in the world of WinWords, Xerox-machines and scaners where only a lazy one doesn't involve himself or herself into creative-writing.

P.S. I have read the novel in Russian, since I live in the "post-Evil" Empire.

I was blown away by the remarkably sensitive and insightful language and character portrayals in the book. He also takes seemingly disparate characters and closes the loop beautifully and unexpectedly at the end. Congratulations to Mr Cunningham for his achievement!I knew nothing of Virginia Woolf or Mrs Dalloway before but have been fascinated by what I learned.

I delayed reading this book for years because I am a lifelong Virginia Woolf fan, and I didn't want to be disappointed. When I read it, I was just amazed! It said so much about life and death and living in the twentieth century. Like Cunningham (who I suppose must be around my age), I was raised in Los Angeles, but I spend time every year in both New York and London. The richness of detail as to place and time was quite remarkable. The subliminal things it said about Viriginia Woolf's world, and my world, and my parents' world really cut to the bone. It said the things I've thought but didn't put into words; I'm filled with admiration!


Beautiful read
The Hours is one of those books that leaves phrases resounding in your mind long after you have put it down. The poetic prose isn't quite Virginia Woolf's, but Cunningham does a wonderful job of adapting the stream-of-consiousness style and making it his own. Like Woolf, he does with words what great artists do with paint, but has made it a little easier to follow (think Mrs Dalloway as stream-of-consiousness on speed). It maybe be a little harder than other books to understand, but I urge you not to let that faze you!

I would not have picked up this book if it were not be for an assignment at uni. Although I might have never picked it up I did and I am so glad I did. This book takes us on a journey through a day in the lives of 3 women in different eras all experiencing suicide either themselves or friends and family. These women all experience health issues that were typical in their era and country. Mrs Woolf - was mentally unstable as she continued to write a novel, Mrs Brown - looking after a young child and pregnant with another, wanting perfection she too was mentally unstable (was not happy with where she was in life), and we can't forget Mrs Dalloway - although she herself did not attempt suicide she was still worried about the choices she made in her life and experiences her best friend commit suicide. There are many twists in this novel on how the 3 single woman are linked. I even got so sure that Mrs Dalloway was infact the daughter of Mrs Woolf (not really knowing the life of Virginia Woolf or have read any of her novels). It kept me interested right up until the end to find out the link and how it all ended. The only real lesson I have learnt from this book is that there are many reasons people have tried or have taken their own lives and I think the real reason is because they are not happy with their lives and the company they keep.
Jessica, 16

Michael Cunninghams' The Hours is a brilliant, intricate novel. As it follows the lives of 3 women in a single day the ties between their stories and Virginia Woolfs original Mrs Dalloway are subtle and numerous.
In each story there is a character like Clarrissa Dalloway from the original, someone who thrives in society and is slightly artificial. In Mrs Woolfs story this is Vanessa, in Mrs Browns this is Kitty and in Mrs Dalloways this is herself. There is also a character who is a cross between Septimus and Peter Walsh, they are struggling in society and are in love with the Clarrisa like character who can cope with what they cannot. Mrs Woolf struggles in society and feels restricted by her duty as a wife so ends up commiting suicide. Laura Brown is restricted by her duties as a wife and mother, she longs to escape and considers suicide. We learn that she dosn't but leaves her family in Mrs Dalloways story (as the story of Mrs Brown and Mrs Dalloway collide unexpectedly as Septimus' and Clarrisa's do in the original.) Richard also yearns to escape from his illness, he loves Clarissa but cannot keep on living just for her.
Suicide is explored in each of the womens lives, they are not crazy just struggling in society. Notice how it is those who feel restrictions that consider suicide - Mrs Woolf, Mrs Brown and Richard. Mrs Dalloway, the main character who dosnt think about suicide but witnesses Richards, has less restrictions as lives in a time when she can live freely - as a lesbian for example.
I must also stress that Cunningham is not degrading women - the fact Laura is portrayed as a simple housewife by society would have been true of the time she lived. He is showing the restrictions she faces and how damaging they can be. He, like Woolf in the original, is making a moral statement about society - that its presure can do terrible things to people.
Marcelle Pallière

Sure the 'Hours' is a great book, but slightly disappointing compared with 'A Home at the End of the World' which is definitely a masterpiece. In particular I didn't appreciate the Virginia Woolf part in the 'Hours'. This is a simplistic view of Virginia Woolf's inspiration.

The Hours is a delightfully written book with a twist of suspense and mystery. This story, about the lives of 3 women from completely different lifestyles and generations, kept me entretained the whole way through. Cunningham's writting style along with his beautiful use of word choice made this book a definite number one on my list. Although the plot was a little shaky in the end, it did finally all come together to form one of his best works yet.

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