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The Hours

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3.93  ·  Rating details ·  118,932 ratings  ·  4,671 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 i
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Paperback, US / CAN, 226 pages
Published January 15th 2000 by Picador USA (first published 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…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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3.93  · 
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 ·  118,932 ratings  ·  4,671 reviews


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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 g
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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 intrig
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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 silence
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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 mo
...more
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
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 t
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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!)
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 l ...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 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 no ...more
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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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 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
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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 f
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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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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 hidd ...more
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, po
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Alex
Aug 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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 th
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Holly Dunn
This book made me want to weep and to sing with joy.
K.D. Absolutely
Jul 25, 2009 rated it liked it
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 sa
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Donna
BRILLIANT! BRILLIANT! BRILLIANT! I loved loved LOVED this book! Every word, every page…. Fantastic writing, intricate structure, amazing insights. I have LOADS of passages earmarked. This is definitely a must-read-again (and again and again and again!). I *never* cry when I read books – this time I cried.

FAVOURITE QUOTE: “It had seemed like the beginning of happiness, and Clarissa is still sometimes shocked, more than thirty years later, to realize that it was happiness; that the entire experien
...more
Dorotea
I'll write a better review later, I want to collect all my thoughts (and all my feelings), but I have been out all day and I just want to go to sleep right now BUT I do want to write about this marvellous book. Undecided whether to see the movie before or after, I opted for watching parts of it (I divided it into thirds) and after reading the related parts. I think it was the right choice, because it helped me dilute the book and therefore savour it, and compare the two of them. The book is so m ...more
Jasmine
"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) knows these hours will inevitably be followed by others, far darker and more difficult." ( p. 225)
Chrissie
Nov 16, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Chrissie by: dely
What has happened to me? I started this book extremely annoyed and ended up liking it. Why? Why? Why? I don't quite know. I have to think........

By the book's end I know the central characters. Who are they? Let me start here. The book follows three women. First there is Virginia Woolf. She is recovering from headaches, terrible headaches. She is and was manic-depressive. The date of this thread is 1923 and Virginia is cared for, watched over or you might say even repressively ordered around by
...more
Luís C.
Virginia Woolf. Writer. rebellious woman to male authority even if pregnant in 1923, rebelled against social conventions, the rebel docile female figure and mistress of herself, the rebellious calm and drowsy life of the London suburb ... and yet mindful of act "properly", anxious to obey her husband so loving, anxious not to displease his cook. But Virginia is so much else! So complicit in the souls of others, what is not said, and research style that reveals the depth is in it. She wrote "Mrs. ...more
LeAnne: GeezerMom
A beautifully phrased novel about how awful it is to be a wife and mother, to be an ill adult residing in less than splendor, and to have once loved either of these two life-sucks-let's-die depressives. I do not care if it is lovely literature or not, angst after the age of 17 is self indulgent crap. I did not care about any of these characters one bit.
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Play Book Tag: The Hours by Michael Cunningham - 5 stars 3 18 May 24, 2019 07:15PM  
I'm confused. What is the correlation of this book to Virgina Woolf's books? 1 6 Apr 30, 2019 12:36PM  
Reading 1001: The Hours by Michael Cunningham 3 19 Nov 12, 2018 07:20PM  
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 10 Mar 03, 2017 08:26AM  

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2,458 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.” 10174 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...” 451 likes
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