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The Hours

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3.93  ·  Rating details ·  120,431 ratings  ·  4,766 reviews
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
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Hardcover, 320 pages
Published September 24th 2019 by Picador USA (first published 1998)
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Popular Answered Questions
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…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)
Justine Katja It’s not one of the main themes, although it does start out with a glimp of her suicide. I think it’s worth reading, the ending isn’t ‘that unhappy’.…moreIt’s not one of the main themes, although it does start out with a glimp of her suicide. I think it’s worth reading, the ending isn’t ‘that unhappy’. (less)
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Average rating 3.93  · 
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Jeffrey Keeten
Aug 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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Violet wells
Mar 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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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
Brian
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
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Robin
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
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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.
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
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Laysee
Oct 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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Sammy
May 29, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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AMEERA
Jun 15, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
three stories complicated i feel like doesn't understand anything blow my mind but still was something beautiful about it
Diane Wallace
Good read! very intriguing..deals with three women that are intertwine and connected by different time period through a simple book....well written...(paperback!)
Constantine

Rating: 5.0/5.0

Genre:
Historical Fiction + Literary Fiction

Synopsis:
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
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Michael
May 08, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Raul Bimenyimana
Nov 03, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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Julie
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
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Lotte
4.5/5 stars! Such a clever book.
Aoibhínn
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 ...more
Pedro
Oct 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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.
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Fidan Lurin
Jun 23, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adult-fiction
Tick, Mrs. Dalloway. Tock, Mrs. Woolf. Tick, Mrs. Brown. Tock, Mrs. Dalloway…again.
Reviewing The HoursI 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
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Julie
7.0/10

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.
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Ana Ovejero
Jul 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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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Vanessa
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
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Alice Poon
May 21, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

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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Peter
When you read a book like The Hours, you have to decide whether you want to see it as a work in its own right or as an illumination of something else. In this case, The Hours can either be seen as a standalone novel telling the parallel stories of three women in three time periods or as a complementary text to Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway.

I struggled with The Hours. (Full disclosure: I struggled with it mostly because I heard Michael Cunningham speak at a screening, and he was an arrogant,
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K.D. Absolutely
Jul 25, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to K.D. by: 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die (2006-2012)
I saw the movie. I read Virginia Woolf's Mrs. Dalloway (2 stars) and finally read this book.

This is an easier read than Mrs. Dalloway because this uses contemporary English. Well, that thin book by Woolf was one of the first few classics that I had read upon joining Goodreads and I knew I must have missed somethings that was why I just found it okay (2 stars). I should read it again someday.

The movie stayed true to this book so it was not hard to imagine the scenes described in here even if I
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Alex
Here's what heterosexual sex is like:
She thinks sometimes, can't help thinking, of those cans of peanuts sold in novelty shops, the ones with the paper snakes waiting to pop out when the lids are opened. There will be no reading tonight.
There will be no heterosexual sex in this novel, in which all the main characters will at least consider suicide and also make out with other girls. At one point Virginia Woolf makes out with her sister, which I'm not sure that really happened.

There are three
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Helene Jeppesen
Nov 29, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There is no doubt that with this book, Michael Cunningham has done a beautiful job at interweaving the lives of Virginia Wolff, the author, and Clarissa Dalloway, one of his most famous fictional characters. I was constantly surprised when reading through the 180 pages because I kept finding relations and connections that I hadn't seen before. Even though I have watched the movie starring three of my favourite actresses, I think that the books gives you SO much more of an insight into these ...more
RJ
Jun 26, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 1001-books
Cunningham's exploration of the themes of Virginia Woolf's Mrs. Dalloway, as well as many of the events in Woolf's life, earned him a Pulitzer Prize along with a big budget award-winning film adaptation. The three storylines follow a day in each protagonist's life, with similar events and themes that echo through each. But, like the novel on which it is based, most of the fun in reading The Hours will come from the enjoyment of the prose and the reflections of the nuanced characters rather than ...more
Holly Dunn
This book made me want to weep and to sing with joy.
Roger Brunyate
All in a Day

I am the last person I know to have read The Hours. I admit I delayed for mostly wrong reasons, put off by the success of the popular movie, and then by hearing that is was a reworking of one of my favorite books, Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf. I still haven't seen the movie, but within the first few chapters of the book, I realized that this was far from being a mere spin-off. Michael Cunningham seems virtually to channel Virginia Woolf, not only capturing her style and
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I'm confused. What is the correlation of this book to Virgina Woolf's books? 3 18 Oct 31, 2019 09:17AM  
Reading 1001: The Hours by Michael Cunningham 4 25 Jul 08, 2019 06:30PM  
Play Book Tag: The Hours by Michael Cunningham - 5 stars 3 19 May 24, 2019 07:15PM  
Around the Year i...: The Hours, by Michael Cunningham 7 35 Aug 14, 2017 02:59PM  
Arters AP Literat...: The Hours 9 8 Mar 29, 2017 11:23AM  
The Hours 1 11 Mar 03, 2017 08:26AM  

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2,549 followers
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.
“You cannot find peace by avoiding life.” 10201 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...” 466 likes
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