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The Hours

3.94  ·  Rating details ·  127,714 ratings  ·  5,263 reviews
In 1920s London, Virginia Woolf is fighting against her rebellious spirit as she attempts to make a start on her new novel. A young wife and mother, broiling in a suburb of 1940s Los Angeles, yearns to escape and read her precious copy of Mrs Dalloway. And Clarissa Vaughan steps out of her smart Greenwich village apartment in 1990s New York to buy flowers for a party she i ...more
Paperback, 230 pages
Published October 2002 by Picador USA (first published July 31st 1998)
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Robert Day No. Don't read Mrs Dalloway first (as I did) then read The Hours. It will spoil your appreciation of this book. Actually - don't read this book at all…moreNo. Don't read Mrs Dalloway first (as I did) then read The Hours. It will spoil your appreciation of this book. Actually - don't read this book at all; just read Mrs Dalloway.(less)

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Average rating 3.94  · 
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 ·  127,714 ratings  ·  5,263 reviews

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Jeffrey Keeten
Aug 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: book-to-film
”We throw our parties; 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 of windows or drown themselves or take pills; more die by accident; and most of us, the vast majority, are slowly devoured by some disease or, if we’ve very fortunate, by time itself.”

It’s about the hours right? Those few precious hours
Violet wells
Mar 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The film has always put me off reading the book. In particular Nicole Kidman's tawdry depiction of Virginia Woolf as some kind of demented bag lady. Surely the most unflattering cinematic portrait of any famous writer ever. So the first pleasant surprise of this novel was that, far from being some kind of overly simplistic and dismissive view of Woolf as the film veered close to at times, it's actually a glowing tribute to her work and to her as a troubled soul.

However, it doesn't begin on a g
Ahmad Sharabiani
(89 From 1001 Books) - The Hours, Michael Cunningham

The Hours is a 1998 novel written by Michael Cunningham. It won the 1999 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, the 1999 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction, and was later made into an Oscar-winning 2002 movie of the same name starring Nicole Kidman, Meryl Streep and Julianne Moore.

The book concerns three generations of women affected by the classic novel Mrs. Dalloway.

In Richmond, 1923, author Virginia Woolf is writing Mrs. Dalloway and struggling with her o
“Still, she loves the world for being rude and indestructible, and she knows other people must love it too, poor as well as rich, though no one speaks specifically of the reasons. Why else do we struggle to go on living, no matter how compromised, no matter how harmed?”

I’m actually quite glad that I didn’t have time to go to the movies in the early 2000s. My first child was newly born, and I was more likely to be seen pacing a room with a cranky baby, changing a diaper, or passed out on the couc
Michael Finocchiaro
I hesitated between 3 and 4 stars for this book. It was beautifully written and has a somewhat unexpected (and yet unsurprising) ending. The references to Virginia Woolf are omnipresent as she also comes to life under Cunningham's pen along with Mrs Brown and "Mrs Dalloway". Yes, it did relight a flame in me to read the primary Woolf works (Orlando, Mrs Dalloway, To The Lighthouse, The Waves) and reminded me of the one I did read (A Room of One's Own), but still, something about it felt a little ...more
I approached this book in completely the wrong order. By that I mean, I watched the movie first, in the theatre when it was released in 2002, having absolutely no prior idea as to what it was about. I had no clue that that it was based on a Pulitzer prize winning novel, which was itself based on a novella by Virginia Woolf.

The movie decimated me (in a good way!). My best friend and I went from theatre to cafe in a daze, bludgeoned by the film, and spent the following hour in very awkward silence
Dec 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“We want so much, don’t we?”

“The Hours” is one of the best books I have read this year. It is astounding! I was drawn in from the first page; the writing is just beautiful prose.
The setup of the novel is that we drop into the lives of 3 woman: Virginia Woolf while she is beginning to write her novel “Mrs. Dalloway” in 1923, Laura Brown, a housewife reading “Mrs. Dalloway” in LA in 1949, and Clarissa a woman who seems to be a real life Mrs. Dalloway in current NYC. Although this premise is intrig
Barry Pierce
I don't have much to say about this. The words refuse to dislodge from the cobwebs of my mind. I love this book. ...more
May 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Considering this is a novel which begins with a suicide and continues to develop the theme this is an incredibly uplifting novel, a lyrical celebration of life in the moment. It begins with the last half an hour of Virginia Woolf's life and she, engaged in the writing of Mrs Dalloway, will be the subject of one of the novel's three narratives, each of which cover a single day in the characters' lives. There's Clarissa who mirrors Mrs Dalloway in Woolf's book and shares her name, who is organisin ...more
Richard Derus
May 18, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Book Circle Reads 20

Rating: 4.75* of five

The Publisher Says: In The Hours, Michael Cunningham, who is recognized as "one of our very best writers" (Richard Eder, Los Angeles Times), draw inventively on the life and work of Virginia Woolf to tell the story of a group of contemporary characters who are struggling with the conflicting claims of love and inheritance, hope and despair.

The novel opens with an evocation of Woolf's last days before her suicide in 1941, and moves to the stories of two mo
Oct 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
In 1941, Virginia Woolf put rocks in her coat pockets, waded into a river, and drowned herself. That was the prologue – a disquieting start to The Hours, a book I started reading with nary an inkling of its subject matter.

Little did I know that The Hours was anchored in the life of Virginia Woolf and that of Mrs Dalloway, one of her fictional characters. I read To the Lighthouse and Mrs Dalloway when I was too young to grasp the awe accorded to them; all I recalled at the time of reading was th
May 29, 2007 rated it liked it
Shelves: c-the-okay
Okay, let's be honest, the only reason this book isn't getting a D is because the language was very beautiful... most of the time. It was beautiful when it wasn't beating me over the head with the whole, "Look how eloquently I can write and use big words and sound smart! Don't you feel smart just reading it? Oh, wait... you just feel stupid, huh?" Which, honestly, wasn't that much, but it was enough to annoy me.

The problem I had with the whole story was that I could not find sympathy in any of t
TBV (on semi-hiatus)
Three women, in different places at different times. All three women are planning parties. Three novels - this one by by Pulitzer Prize winning author Michael Cunningham, an “unreadable” novel by a fictional prize winning poet (a character in ‘The Hours’), as well as ‘Mrs Dalloway’ by Virginia Woolf. In ‘The Hours’ Woolf is writing ‘Mrs Dalloway’, which is about a day in the life of Clarissa Dalloway who is planning a party for that evening, that evening being sometime in post-WWI, in England. I ...more
Jun 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
three stories complicated i feel like doesn't understand anything blow my mind but still was something beautiful about it ...more
Sep 05, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Here I go again, rebel that I am, loving a derivative work (à la Wide Sargasso Sea) without having read the original. Am I the only one that relished the A Single Man feeling of Mrs. Brown's story? Perhaps the comparison is a bit too obvious--suburban disillusionment in mid-century Los Angeles, following a single character through a single day etc. As a whole the book reminded me of three intercut Alice Munro short stories, and I fell absolutely in love with it.

The movie (despite the amazing ca
Diane Wallace
May 23, 2015 rated it liked it
Good read! very with three women that are intertwine and connected by different time period through a simple book....well written...(paperback!)
May 08, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2018
A quick piece of postmodern kitsch, The Hours juxtaposes what amount to be three fairly conventional plots against each other, hastily tying them all together in the final chapter. The first plot focuses on Clarissa Vaughan, a book editor planning a party in honor of her friend Richard's receiving a prestigious literary award; the second on Laura Brown, a housewife dissatisfied with the limitations of her life; the third on Woolf herself, a writer struggling to begin her latest book. The novel l ...more

Rating: 5.0/5.0

Historical Fiction + Literary Fiction

The Hours is the story of three women at different time frames. Laura Brown living in the 1950s with her husband and son, she begins to feel the constraints of her perfect family and home. Virginia Woolf who is writing her novel, Mrs. Dalloway. And Clarissa Vaughan who is planning a party for her friend. By the end, all these stories will be intertwined.

Book Structure:
The book is 226 pages. Every chapter is about one of the three
I can only hope, after reading this novel, that I will have the pleasure someday of meeting the author, Michael Cunningham. This is what I'd like to say to him: Here, in this novel, you have honored the craft of writing. Here is the place where talent, intelligence and imagination have collided. Here you have proven that you do not need to lower the bar to meet the mainstream and you have, instead, challenged all of us to raise it higher.

This is an exceptional read, a Pulitzer well-deserved. A
Ana Ovejero
Jul 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This is Michael Cunningham's tribute to Virginia Woolf.

We have the lives of three women connected in a literary way: Virginia Woolf in her retreat away from London; Clarissa Daloway, an editor preparing a party for her birthday, and, finally, Mrs Brown, a housewife in the 50s living an unsuitable life for herself.

All of then are struggling with her own issues. Virginia is fighting with the fact that she is hearing voices again, writing Mrs Dalloway and trying to make her husband understand that
Raul Bimenyimana
Nov 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
I think it takes courage to write about great literary figures and fictionalise bits of their lives, even when their lives have been well documented as is the case with Virginia Woolf. It also takes courage to interconnect the story and the characters with one of their most beloved masterpieces as Cunningham did.

This story revolves around three women, in three different eras of the twentieth century, all in some way affected by the book Mrs Dalloway . Virginia Woolf has began to write the book a
I gave the novel one star simply because Goodreads wouldn't let me give it zero! The book is about three self-absorbed, whiny and spoiled women, all from different eras, complaining and whining about their lives, even though, they essentially have it all (wealth, love, family, friends, etc). The book is vile. The characters are repulsive and the plot is tiresome. I keep asking myself how on earth did this novel win a Pulitzer Prize? There's a huge red sticker on the front of the cover, of the no ...more
4.5/5 stars! Such a clever book.
i loved “The Hours” when I first read it (translated to Portuguese) in the early 2000’s. I also loved the film adaptation and watched it so many times over the years that I know parts of the dialogue by heart. I’m just like that, and if I love something (or someone) with all my heart I always come back. Always. Less risks of disappointment for being like this. If there’s love then it’s worth it.

And I love this book with all my heart. And I read it this time as compulsively as the first time. Cu
Roman Clodia
Nov 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-group
4.5 stars

Why else do we struggle to go on living, no matter how compromised, no matter how harmed?

Cunningham has forged a masterful novel which melds ideas of creativity, failure, love, suicide, depression and gender, and has done so in a manner that manages to be profoundly moving in just a little over 200 pages. It’s not that the narrative feels compressed, it’s that the text expands beautifully around an array of images and motifs that accrue meaning each time they appear and reappear: ye
Mar 16, 2011 rated it really liked it
This book was very well written about the life of three women, moving from a few hours in the life of Virginia Woolf when she killed herself, to two other women who lived different lives and in different times. To me it was a very depressing book, but because the book had a profound affect on me, I rate it as a 4. Of course, it caused me to decide that perhaps I will not ever read anything by Virginia Woolf.
Fidan Lurin
Jun 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: adult-fiction
Tick, Mrs. Dalloway. Tock, Mrs. Woolf. Tick, Mrs. Brown. Tock, Mrs. Dalloway…again.
Reviewing The Hours I find myself stuck somewhere in between tick and tock. Reading a novel, poem, play, screenplay, it’s often easy for me to lose touch with reality and completely absorb myself into the world of a story. I lose touch with myself. The sounds around me. The smells hovering under my nose. The world happening around me. Time elapses into nothingness.
The Hours, however, made me fully aware of my posi
Nov 01, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm not entirely sure why I liked this novel as much as I did - plot-wise it's quite hard to sum up any more than what is already given in the blurb.

Cunningham portrays a day of the live in three very different but very connected women: Clarissa Vaughan, a middle-aged woman living in New York in the 1990s; Laura Brown, a young house-wife in 1940s Los Angeles; and Virginia Woolf herself in 1920s London, or thereabouts. Virginia Woolf has just begun writing Mrs Dalloway, Laura Brown is trying to f

I'm having a difficult time rating this book because I loved the movie far too much. The movie had just the right amount of nuance and subtlety and inspiration, writ large, that acts as a revelation to the mind and heart. The book: not so much.

For most of the novel, I felt like I was standing inside a huge echo chamber attendant with visual aspects that kept flashing at me, à la Clockwork Orange. Virginia Woolf was more than writ large -- she was the godhead from which everything flowed.
Alice Poon
May 21, 2015 rated it really liked it

Our lives are made up of years, of days, of hours. What happens around us on one particular day can make us take a blind, or even desperate, leap forward, or it can force us to look at life with patient gratitude. Each one of us would make different choices, according to our own personal system of values and beliefs, our sense of reasoning, our temperament and most importantly, our state of mind at the final hours of that particular day.

With lyrical prose, the author knits and weaves the events
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Michael Cunningham is the author of the novels A Home at the End of the World, Flesh and Blood, The Hours (winner of the Pen/Faulkner Award & Pulitzer Prize), Specimen Days, and By Nightfall, as well as the non-fiction book, Land's End: A Walk in Provincetown. His new novel, The Snow Queen, will be published in May of 2014. He lives in New York, and teaches at Yale University. ...more

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“You cannot find peace by avoiding life.” 10228 likes
“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...” 494 likes
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