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The Hours

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  133,343 ratings  ·  5,772 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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Average rating 3.95  · 
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 ·  133,343 ratings  ·  5,772 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
Ahmad Sharabiani
(Book 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
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
“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
Apr 06, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: contemporary
Pulitzer Prize winner: An exquisite tale, told in a 'stream of consciousness' style of a day in the lives of three amazing women connected by a Virginal Woolf novel. The tale covers symbiotic relationships, homosexuality, mortality, suicide, mental illness, AIDS…. It is an exquisite piece of work. I. Kid. You. Not! 8 out of 12. Now I don't feel so bad for not liking James Joyce's Ulysses - this is how to rock stream of consciousness, in my opinion.

2010 read
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
Jo (The Book Geek)
Please excuse me, while I drag my aching body up off the sofa in a slightly hopeful but desperate attempt to find the words even remotely grand enough to describe how exquisite this book is, and exactly how it has left me feeling. I will mention that it was good enough for me to personally escort it to my mother's house within an hour of finishing it, and, I had an overwhelming urge to order another Cunningham book from Amazon within the hour, too. And yes, I fulfilled that urge.

This novel begi
Apr 03, 2022 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a truly beautiful book. Its language is rich and its premise is a reader’s dream of what literature should do at its best: connect, converse and contain all that haunts us when contemplating our human predicament.

I don’t know whether Michael Cunningham set out to write this novel in order to pay tribute to Virginia Woolf’s “Mrs. Dalloway” or if that book just happened to serve as the perfect vehicle for his own reflections on Love, Life and Death. Whatever the case, the result is a mast
Dec 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
“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
I wanted to discover this story that moved me deeply in cinema following the film.
Many books deal with women and their lives, with varying fortunes. Here we are at the top of the basket.
This author can create a universe that takes the reader to the lives and hearts of these extraordinary women in such an ordinary world.
The style is delicate and profound. There is no easy writing.
The author wishes to propose an ample, in-depth, intelligent text, which allows the reader to immerse himself in multi
Sep 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"We live our lives, do whatever we do, and then we sleep--it's as simple and ordinary as that."

Sigh. Swoon. No other book so perfectly captures the restlessness / misgivings / dissatisfaction of characters who should be content living what appear to be perfect lives, and I am (still) in love. Very Little Children, but more lyrical. I should have fallen head over heels in love on the first reading (I mean I did, with reservations) but I had the movie adaptation, which so closely mirrors the book,
Always Pouting
Mar 04, 2022 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've actually never read any Virginia Woolf. I remember I tried to one time when I was like 15 but I gave up after two pages for some reason. I feel like I should try again after reading this book though. I really enjoyed it. I loved the writing and I loved the pacing and I love the vibe and tone and themes. This is just the kind of book that happens to appeal to me the most and I'm really glad I picked it up. ...more
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
Michael Cunningham’s Pulitzer Prize-winning work, ‘The Hours’ details the lives of three very different women. He opens his narrative with a fateful day in 1941 when Virginia Woolf has decided to fill her pockets with stones and walk into the river. The scene is heartbreaking. Woolf is obsessed with probing into the meanings and mysteries of life. She is also fascinated with death, menaced with headaches and nervous instability. Her husband, Leonard, provides stability for her fragile nature and ...more
TBV (on 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
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
Julie G
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
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
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!)
Sep 26, 2022 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This novel buoyed me up, then dropped me like a hot potato. I was sucked right in, I regret to say - along with its characters - to its depressive vortex. I've declared tomorrow my very own Mental Health Day.

There, it’s now tomorrow, or at least that’s what the clock says.

Did you ever get one of those spiffy mp4 attachments to a friend’s email? You open it, follow its inside jokes with barely-concealed amusement till you get to the punch line, and…

It’s just another crummy ad. You’ve been had!
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
chan ☆
the prose was genuinely stunning but i struggled connecting with how the stories intertwined. and i didn't care much for clarissa's storyline. laura tho... sheesh. her reflections on suburban living had me cringing and empathizing in a big way. ...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 begins to feel the constraints of her perfect family and home. Virginia Woolf is writing her novel, Mrs. Dalloway. And Clarissa Vaughan 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 characters.
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
Jun 03, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
As long as I can remember, I've always been into movies, and at some point during high school, Nicole Kidman was my fave actress. I was obsessed with her and wanted to see everything she was in. During that time, she had a great run of leading roles. First, there was The Others, then there was Moulin Rouge! but then there was Stephen Daldry's adaptation of this book that had her as the frontrunner for the Best Actress Oscar as soon as it was released. I had to see it. The rest, they say, is hist ...more
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
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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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