Winner of the 1999 Pulitzer and Pen/Faulkner prizes, 'The Hours' is a daring and deeply affecting novel inspired by the life and work of Virginia Woolf. A passionate, profound and haunting story of love and inheritance, hope and despair which will be repackaged as part of Perennial's 2008 fiction promotion. Exiled in Richmond in the 1920s, taken ...
Winner of the 1999 Pulitzer and Pen/Faulkner prizes, 'The Hours' is a daring and deeply affecting novel inspired by the life and work of Virginia Woolf. A passionate, profound and haunting story of love and inheritance, hope and despair which will be repackaged as part of Perennial's 2008 fiction promotion. Exiled in Richmond in the 1920s, taken from her beloved Bloomsbury and lovingly watched over by her husband Leonard, Virginia Woolf struggles to tame her rebellious mind and make a start on her new novel. In the brooding heat of 1940s Los Angeles, a young wife and mother yearns to escape the claustrophobia of suburban domesticity and read her precious copy of 'Mrs Dalloway'. And in New York in the 1990s, Clarissa Vaughan steps out of her smart Greenwich Village apartment and goes shopping for flowers for the party she is giving in honour of her life-long friend Richard, an award-winning poet whose mind and body are being ravaged by AIDS. These are the characters in Michael Cunningham's exquisite and deeply moving new novel, which takes Woolf's life and work as inspiration for a meditation on artistic behaviour, failure, love and madness.Moving effortlessly across the decades and between England and America, Cunningham's elegant, haunting prose explores the pain and trauma of creativity and the immutable relationship between writer and reader.
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It wasn't poorly written it was just boring. Three interwoven stories come together to make the reader realize they could have read something much better. A woman planning a party for her dying friend. A hausfrau with a shocking secret (oh my!) and sad sack Virgina Woolfe in all her pity before completion of "Mrs. Dalloway". This book much like the movie acted like a sedative for me. Both had the power to put me to sleep.
Since so much was made about Virginia Woolfe at the time of the film release and then greater interest in the book it did inspire me to read "Mrs. Dalloway". Much to my horror in the first few pages I was having deja-veu of "The Hours" all over again. I'm surprised Ms. Woolfe's estate didn't sue for copyright infringement.
Jul 11, 2008
A Day Inspired by Woolf
Cunnigham's novel relies heavily on context and events from Woolf's novel, Mrs. Dalloway, which is being written in The Hours. If I had not already read Mrs. Dalloway, I would have missed many references and allusions to the novel made by Cunnigham and perhaps not appreciated or understood the presence of certain plot elements; nevertheless, knowledge of Woolf's work is not requisite to enjoy The Hours. The portraits of the characters, especially Woolf's, are intriguing, and Cunnigham adeptly delves into the minds of his heroines. While some may say that the characters seem too similar, I would suggest that some of the beauty of the work comes from the realisation that these women, despite their many differences, experience the same confusions and emotions. While I did enjoy and would recommend this book to friends, it is not a light or uplifting book. In any case, it's a fast read, so if you don't like it, it won't take up too much of your time. A good choice for fans of Virginia Woolf.
Dec 1, 2007
I really loved this book! it is beautifully written, poetic & totally engrossing.
Sep 16, 2007
It sounded like a man wrote it. All the characters sounded the same. This is a one time read at best. I doubt anyone could read it for a second time. There was very little to hold the reader's attention.
Publishers Weekly, 1998-08-31 At first blush, the structural and thematic conceits of this novel?three interwoven novellas in varying degrees connected to Virginia Woolf?seem like the stuff of a graduate student's pipe dream: a great idea in the dorm room that betrays a lack of originality. But as soon as one dips into Cunningham's prologue, in which Woolf's suicide is rendered with a precise yet harrowing matter-of-factness ("She hurries from the house, wearing a coat too heavy for the weather. It is 1941. She has left a note for Leonard, and another for Vanessa."), the reader becomes completely entranced. This book more than fulfills the promise of Cunningham's 1990 debut, A Home at the End of the World, while showing that sweep does not necessarily require the sprawl of his second book, Flesh and Blood. In alternating chapters, the three stories unfold: "Mrs. Woolf," about Virginia's own struggle to find an opening for Mrs. Dalloway in 1923; "Mrs. Brown," about one Laura Brown's efforts to escape, somehow, an airless marriage in California in 1949 while, coincidentally, reading Mrs. Dalloway; and "Mrs. Dalloway," which is set in 1990s Greenwich Village and concerns Clarissa Vaughan's preparations for a party for her gay?and dying?friend, Richard, who has nicknamed her Mrs. Dalloway. Cunningham's insightful use of the historical record concerning Woolf in her household outside London in the 1920s is matched by his audacious imagining of her inner lifeand his equally impressive plunges into the lives of Laura and Clarissa. The book would have been altogether absorbing had it been linked only thematically. However, Cunningham cleverly manages to pull the stories even more intimately togther in the closing pages. Along the way, rich and beautifully nuanced scenes follow one upon the other: Virginia, tired and weak, irked by the early arrival of headstrong sister Vanessa, her three children and the dead bird they bury in the backyard; Laura's afternoon escape to an L.A. hotel to read for a few hours; Clarissa's anguished witnessing of her friend's suicidal jump down an airshaft, rendered with unforgettable detail. The overall effect of this book is twofold. First, it makes a reader hunger to know all about Woolf, again; readers may be spooked at times, as Woolf's spirit emerges in unexpected ways, but hers is an abiding presence, more about living than dying. Second, and this is the gargantuan accomplishment of this small book, it makes a reader believe in the possibility and depth of a communality based on great literature, literature that has shown people how to live and what to ask of life. (Nov.) FYI: The Hours was a working title that Woolf for a time gave to Mrs. Dalloway.
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