The Hours

“But there are still the hours, aren’t there? One and then another, and you get through that one and then, my god, there’s another.”
― Michael Cunningham, The Hours

A year ago my wonderful Dancing English Teacher showed me a short video of The Hours. For such a short video it left a huge impact on me. You can immediately sense that something is off. Why is Laura’s husband buying flowers for her on his birthday and why does she look so haunted… I watched the movie for my US & Canada course and it was amazing and it was also one of the first book based movie adaptations I have seen before reading the book itself. Finding time and reading the book took a bit longer, I finally managed to read it earlier this year.

“There is a beauty in the world, though it’s harsher than we expect it to be.”
― Michael Cunningham, The Hours

The Hours tells the story of three women in three different timelines: Virginia Woolf who is beginning to write Mrs. Dalloway in 1923; Clarissa Vaughan, a beloved friend of an acclaimed poet dying from AIDS and Laura Brown, in a 1949 Los Angeles suburb, who slowly begins to feel the constraints of her “perfect” housewife life. At first, you think all these women have in common is Mrs Dalloway. Virginia Woolf who has written it, Laura Brown who reads it and Clarissa who is called Mrs Dalloway by her poet friend. But it goes deeper than that.

“Beauty is a whore, I like money better.”
― Michael Cunningham, The Hours

“We throw our parties; we abandon our families to live alone in Canada; we struggle to write books that do not change the world, despite our gifts and our unstinting efforts, our most extravagant hopes. We live our lives, do whatever we do, and then we sleep. It’s as simple and ordinary as that. A few jump out windows, or drown themselves, or take pills; more die by accident; and most of us are slowly devoured by some disease, or, if we’re very fortunate, by time itself. There’s just this for consolation: an hour here or there when our lives seem, against all odds and expectations, to burst open and give us everything we’ve ever imagined, though everyone but children (and perhaps even they) know these hours will inevitably be followed by others, far darker and more difficult. Still, we cherish the city, the morning; we hope, more than anything, for more. Heaven only knows why we love it so…”
― Michael Cunningham, The Hours

By the end of the novel, all these three stories and timelines are weaved together in a beautiful manner. Nothing about this book is expected. The Hours is SO well-written and complex, I first thought that this complexity would make it hard for me to concentrate on reading, however it read very easily. The Hours is very deeply moving, I absolutely adored this novel.

5/5 stars.

How To Read The Hours:
1.
You can read the excerpt HERE.
2.
I think this is kind of a depressing thoughtful book so if you don’t like those, you perhaps won’t understand this.
3.
I think if you are interested about Virginia Woolf in general, you should read this. It’s a tribute to her and ‘The Hours’ was also the working title of Woolf’s 1920s classic Mrs Dalloway. This novel is also written in a similar stream-of-consciousness style, though I think it was much easier to read this than Mrs Dalloway.
4.
You’ll love this if you like reading beautiful prose and if you like deeper prose.
5.
If you liked the book, pretty please watch the movie adaptation. It’s just stunning. Meryl Streep (😂😂😂!), Nicole Kidman & Julianne Moore are just fantastic in their roles.

“What does it mean to regret when you have no choice? It’s what you can bear. And there it is… It was death. I chose life.”
― Michael Cunningham, The Hours

Have you read The Hours or other books by Michael Cunningham? What about Mrs Dalloway? Would you like to?

                                            Buy The Hours: A Novel on Amazon

9 thoughts on “The Hours

  1. Lectito says:

    I loved The Hours too! Michael Cunningham’s prose is achingly beautiful and it’s really fascinating to see how he builds on Woolf’s life and Mrs Dalloway, and then how the film adapts his text.

    Liked by 1 person

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