The Hours

The Hours

Book - 1998
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A daring, deeply affecting third novel by the author of A Home at the End of the World and Flesh and Blood .

In The Hours , Michael Cunningham, widely praised as one of the most gifted writers of his generation, draws inventively on the life and work of Virginia Woolf to tell the story of a group of contemporary characters struggling with the conflicting claims of love and inheritance, hope and despair. The narrative of Woolf's last days before her suicide early in World War II counterpoints the fictional stories of Samuel, a famous poet whose life has been shadowed by his talented and troubled mother, and hislifelong friend Clarissa, who strives to forge a balanced and rewarding life in spite of the demands of friends, lovers, and family.

Passionate, profound, and deeply moving, this is Cunningham's most remarkable achievement to date. The Hours is the winner of the 1999 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.
Publisher: New York : Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 1998.
Edition: 1st ed.
ISBN: 9780374172893
Characteristics: 229 p. ; 22 cm.


From the critics

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Dec 19, 2017

I may have enjoyed this more if I hadn't seen the movie first. Also, while well written, sometimes it got rather wordy and flourish-y. I was an English double-major and have a good vocabulary but from time to time I thought "really, you're going to make me read this sentence TWICE to grasp the full meaning?"

Dec 16, 2016

Other versions available

Dec 15, 2016

A bit hard to get into for a little while, but overall I really liked it! 4 stars

Dec 09, 2015

2.5 for how much I enjoyed it, but 4 for the writing, depth and beauty of it.

This was a dark, heavy read. Pretty much every character was desperately unhappy and thought seriously about suicide. It definitely put me in a weird mood for a few days. I am quite happy to be finished it.

That said, it was beautifully written and I was compelled to keep reading. The characters are beautifully complex! I feel like there was probably a lot more depth and symbolism than I picked up on. I'm sure if I read it again, now knowing the ending, that I might be able to recognize some themes and subtleties that eluded me the first time. It's like swimming on the surface of an ocean. I know there is greater depth than I'm exploring. Unfortunately, I think it will be a while before I could ever think of picking it up again. I'm a tad bit too empathetic to survive reading this one again anytime soon.

If you are looking for a read that really makes you think about love and death, life and how one's choices lead to monotonous unhappiness for all involved, and, perhaps, if you are anything like me, a read that truly unsettles you, then this one is for you!

AbigailCurious Aug 02, 2015

It was a haunting read, and it got my emotions pulsing.

Dec 03, 2014

Stunning. Often found myself thinking: "My God, this passage couldn't have been written any more perfectly".

WVMLStaffPicks Nov 13, 2014

The author brings with rare ease and assurance a convergence between Virginia Woolf’s writing of Mrs. Dalloway and the lives of two American women. He is empathetic and lyrically watchful in his report on late twentieth century life with all its conflicting emotional claims.

NYPLRecommends Jul 28, 2014

NYPL Staff Pick
Clarissa plans a party for her oldest friend who has just one a prestigious literary prize and is imminently dying of AIDS. Laura, a 1950s housewife, struggles against waves of panic and isolation. Virginia Wolfe works on Mrs. Dalloway and longs for escape -- possibly even only death will do it. This one is extraordinary.
- Lynn Lobash, Readers Service

JCLBeckyC Jun 22, 2013

Michael Cunningham won the Pulitzer Prize for this masterpiece that weaves together the stories of three generations of women, each during a single day in her life, showing us how extraordinarily interconnected our seemingly ordinary lives are.

dead_bird_by_bird Feb 13, 2013

One of the best and most clever books I have ever read.

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