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Posted November 24, 2009
A Truly Remarkable Work of Literature
Michael Cunningham's The Hours is a timeless piece of literary achievement that is deserving of its Pulitzer Prize. He remarkably and cleverly weaves the stories of three different women of three different time periods into one flowing story. There is Virginia Woolf in 1923, and her story is followed as she writes her greatest literary achievement, Mrs. Dalloway. Then, there is Laura Brown, a wife and mother from 1949, who struggles with the confinement of her life and seeks to escape it through reading Mrs. Dalloway. Then finally, there is Clarissa Vaughn, a curious reincarnation of Clarissa Dalloway, who is alive at the end of the twentieth century, and whose story follows the planning of a party for a friend. Each finds herself in an undesired position -one of dissatisfaction. These three stories are soon woven together, depicting each individual's triumphs and sorrows and eventually, the connection all three share, despite the passage of time.
The book really gave me something to chew on. For one, Cunningham's depiction of the theme of confinement was certainly interesting. Though each woman is under a very different situation, each feels that they are somehow constrained. What is more interesting is how each woman handles her situation. Another thing that amazed me was Cunningham's ability to highlight the most everyday things, and give them the most expressive descriptions to make them come alive. He is able to portray that life does not just go on, but every waking moment of life is something special. Interestingly enough, he also contrasts that theme with the idea that life is just a fleeting picture.
I personally found the book enjoyable. The imagery Michael creates is just stunning, and really brings out the essence of everyday life. At the same time, he is able to manipulate the imagery, syntax, and diction to create a different picture depending on the character. The plot is certainly unique and is very craftily put together. I enjoyed my time reading the book for its literary brilliance. At the same time, I feel that the book was a little over-done at times. While the descriptions certainly add to the life of the book, they do become slightly overwhelming or confusing at times. Also, there are a lot of names to keep track of, making certain parts feel like they're too much to swallow at once. I would recommend this book to those who are looking for a good read and a good piece of literature. After I finished reading, not only was I left wowed, but I was also left with a lot to think about. However, I wouldn't recommend this to someone looking for a climactic plot, or a thriller as this is one of those pieces that is simply done to show the power of the pen. Also, it is better suited toward juniors in high school and beyond, as it features some material that requires some maturity to appreciate.
And so, through his great style of writing, Cunningham is able to entice the reader into getting lost in The Hours, much as Laura Brown fell into Mrs. Dalloway.
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Posted March 22, 2012
The Hours by Michael Cunningham
If you've seen the movie and not yet read the book, I would highly recommend Mr. Cunningham's work. The successful transfer of his novel to motion picture says a great deal about David Hare, the man who wrote the screenplay,and did a beautiful job, I must say. The way the movie flows from one era to another is done so masterfully by all who worked to create the motion picture version of this work. Both the novel and screenplay are a 'NOT TO BE MISSED, MUST READ AND SEE'. I HIGHLY RECOMMEND BOTH!
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Posted May 24, 2010
Liked It More Than The Source
I think the highest praise I can give this novel is that it was worth suffering through Mrs Dalloway to get the most out of it. The Hours, you see, could be described as a "derivative work" ie fan fiction. One thread is about Virginia Woolf, the author of Mrs Dalloway, another about a woman reading Mrs Dalloway and a third about a woman nicknamed Dalloway by a friend. It's this last thread where reading Woolf's novel first pays off since it's a riff on the characters and events of that novel only set in contemporary New York City, and translated beautifully and movingly. One of the pleasures for me in the book was recognizing the references. Eventually the three narrative threads connect up.
I loved this book a lot more than the source. For one a central event in first novel has a lot more resonance in the second where it has a real affect on the other characters. The narrative of The Hours, although lyrical and interior is far more coherent than Woolf's almost mad stream of consciousness narrative--and certainly, present-day New York City is far more accessible to me than 1923 London and the way of its upper classes. I also found the characters of The Hours much more sympathetic and easier to identify with than Woolf's characters. (That's not the distance of time or country--Austen, Forster, Shakespeare--Gilgamesh have characters far more accessible and sympathetic to me than Woolf's in Mrs Dalloway) I felt the second novel illuminated and used the first well, while standing on its own with its themes of the terrors of middle age and taking a measure of one's life.
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Posted April 1, 2009
Virginia Woolf Reincarnated
Outstanding novel. Based on the novel Mrs. Dalloway and Ms. Woolf's life, this book is an excellent read. Not for religious fundamentalist as the gay focus will greatly trouble them. Highly recommended for the rest of us.
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Posted August 29, 2007
Because the light is too fleeting to grasp in your hands.
THE HOURS is a book both beautiful and agonizing, portraying human emotion clearly, like a bell rung through a forest: you hear it, you want to run to it, but it is too far away. Lovely.
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Posted October 4, 2013
I highly recommend this book to people in junior high and high s
I highly recommend this book to people in junior high and high school. This is a very good mystery book. You never really know what going to happen. You better read it!!!!!!!!!!!!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 23, 2012
Posted April 12, 2011
It is one of the most amazing books I have ever read
This book shows romance and drama it is about a girl that has the best life until she. Finds out that she has cancer she ends up going into a deep depresion until she has a flash back and is throughn. Into the future and see what she could of been what she could of looked like and what her future was going to look like. She could never have kids she could never get married she sees that all of her life is flashing befor her eyes. I would read this book again but it is one of those books that you want to waight a little wile before reading a gain so you dont go ow she gets. Cancer in this scene but this is one of the best books that I have ever read and I would like to read it again some time in the future.
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Posted August 17, 2009
This was just a wonderful book to read and I can definetely see why it won the Pulitzer! The style is superb, and I really got lost in the language and imagery! I would recommend this book to anyone who loves a great read and a new story.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 9, 2009
The Hours Book Review
In his book, The Hours, Michael Cunningham weaves together what I feel is practically a literary masterpiece. Masterfully integrating the very different lives of three women into one coherent story, Cunningham interlockss the timeless tale of Mrs. Dalloway and the plight of the great Virginia Woolf with the life of a nearly real-life Clarissa Dalloway into a tapestry of unmatched intricacy.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
The majority of the plot revolves around the respective and separate lives of three very different women, living in three very different time periods. There is Virginia Woolf, living in England in the early 1900's and embarking on her greatest literary achievement. There is a modern incarnation of the immortal Clarissa Dalloway, preparing for a party in a manner remarkably similar to her namesake. There is Laura Brown, pregnant in the 1950's, a voice suppressed and finding escapism in the words of Virginia Wolf. Although it seems as if these three distinct story lines could not possibly mesh in a manner that is both elegant and entertaining, Cunningham veritably proves all doubters wrong.
With the book opening dramatically with the poignant suicide of Virginia Woolf, the entire book sets off on a rather somber mood, as Cunningham's prowess with the English language provides a suicide to be masterful and elegantly beautiful. As the limp body of Virginia Woolf drifts down the river, so do Cunningham's words, as they smoothly flow into each other just as naturally as a river. In an effort not to spoil the book for those of you unfortunate enough to haven't have read this amazing work of literary splendor yet, I'll refrain from detailing the plot and focus solely on the non-plot based merits this book deserves. And of those there are so many.
Adding to the pure magic of the book is the relatability of the characters. With universal themes of loneliness and societal pressure being everprevalent in this book, the very core and soul of the book has the capacity to touch the depths of every heart. Adding insight to the most mundane aspects of life, like buying flowers, Cunningham weaves thought-provoking existentialism commentary into every day chores. As even taking a stroll down a street walked on so many times becomes grounds for a deep contemplation of life and all that is important for the characters of The Hours, Cunningham proves his adeptness in injecting the extraordinary into the ordinary.
Honestly, I just think that this is one of the best books I've ever read. It's perfect for those days when you're just feeling a bit down and need a bit of escape, just as Laura finds escape in Mrs. Dalloway. I'm in love with Michael Cunningham's style and the way he uses commas and the fact that he somehow conveys exactly what he wants with all the accompanying images that just make this book so evocative. This is a tale of the outcome of when fate intertwines with deliberacy, as Michael Cunningham is able to teeter delicately on the line between intrigue and bore. Also, I wholeheartedly enjoy the jellyfish and yellow rose imagery.
Posted October 28, 2008
One of the most finely crafted books I've ever read
Michael Cunningham expertly weaves a tale through time and literature. It grabs you from the beginning and never let's you go. I was amazed at how well he understands the intimate internal dialogue women conduct with themselves.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 25, 2007
I had to read this book for an English class last semester, and I was completely moved by the way Cunningham weaves together 3 totally different stories seamlessly. Even if you've never read Woolf, you can appreciate this book. I suggest reading the book before seeing the movie.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 23, 2007
The Hours: Me Likey
Michael Cunningham's 'The Hours' is a trifecta of deeply disturbed women in three different time periods and locations. Their three stories are woven together beautifully through the connection of Virginia Woolf's novel 'Mrs. Dalloway,' and also other symbols, like flowers. The writing and language is exquisite, and the tightness of the stories and their interconnectedness was obviously very well thought out. A winner!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 16, 2007
'Micheal Cunningham's The Hours is that rare combination: a smashing literary tour de force and an utterly invigorating reading experience. If this book does not make you jump up from the sofa, looking at life and literature in different ways, check to see you have a pulse...' Ann Pritchard's review in USA Today expresses my sentiments exactly. As Virgina Woolf tells the story of contemporary people who struggle with the conflicts of love, satisfaction, and despair, it is easy to become enthralled by the lives each character partakes. As a matchless work, Cunningham's, The Hours, is an exceedingly gratifying novel with its real and fictional characters, its juncture of plots, creative settings, and enriching connections for readers.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 31, 2006
The tragedy in baking a cake - The Hours
A story closely paralleling Virginia Woolf¿s Mrs. Dalloway, The Hours is a novel split into three narratives: Virginia Woolf, in the process of creating her famous character Clarissa Dalloway while battling her mental illnesses Laura Brown, a 1947 housewife troubled by the desperate want of perfecting domesticity and Clarissa Vaughan, a modern woman, disquieted by her comfortable life and social position. The Hours is a story woven with tragedy, contemplation, and the unwanted dissatisfaction that is ultimately placed upon each character, as all have seemingly perfect, comfortable lives but the pleasure they yearn is within a desired independence, and the city. The audience receives, through the stream-of-consciousness format, every detail the characters absorb, and with it, their greatly appreciated love of life. Each character has a conflict they must confront, in which avoidance does not only equate cowardice, but it creates dire consequences ¿ subtly communicated to The Hours¿ audience. I recommend this book strongly to readers who are deeply analytical in the simple gestures made in ordinary life ¿ the connotative meanings in reactions, observations, and the tone and words suggested in dialogue. The audience can find the desolation in domesticity, the cruelty of comfort, and the struggle in sickness through the complex characters Michael Cunningham has created.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 14, 2005
Posted November 26, 2004
Only for the truly intellectual...
One who reads the Hours with no previous background information, cannot truly appreciate the beauty of the text. Cunningham reflects Woolf's genius writing process and intellectual thought in his own way. In order to understand the motion picture, I suggest you read the novel first.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 30, 2004
Awesome if you 'get it'
I can understand why some people are criticizing this book--but I definitely disagree with them. For an author, like Virginia Woolf and now Michael Cunningham, their goal seems to be to paint a picture of human thoughts and emotions--which is extremely hard to do (and maybe why some people don't get it and think it is boring). This book puts you into the minds (and all their randomness) of the characters. It also reminds us of the internal struggles that so many women must face.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 15, 2004
genius. it s one of those books that once you are done reading it, you'll sit and think about it for the rest of the day and then touch the book to feel the emotions that you felt reading it. it makes you think.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 6, 2004
all i can say is, you people that are criticizing this book, calling it 'boring' can't be deeper than your own skin. This is one of the better books i've read, and one of the better films i've seen.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.