Friday 20 February 2009

The Hours by Michael Cunningham

The Hours by Michael Cunningham
Pages 226

Challenges 100+ books and New Authors

The Hours is a very subtle book. It took me awhile to actually work out what was going on it and I found in the beginning, I had to keep checking back to find the links between the stories.

There are three main characters in the book, who all live at different periods of time. The book follows their lives in a parallel fashion, looking at just one day of each of their lives. Each day looked at represents a subtle turning point in their lives, which they would be aware of, but would not show outwardly to others.

Firstly you have Virginia Woolf, in the last days of her life, before she committed suicide. She suffers with severe headaches which bring on a form of madness and depression and all the way through she is struggling to fight them and just exist wihtout feeling a failure.

Secondly, there is Laura Brown, a young wife living in the Los Angeles suburbs during the 1940s. She is struggling to live the life she has slipped into.

Lastly, you have Clarissa Vaughan, fondly known as Mrs Dalloway by Richard,her Aids stricken friend, of more than forty years. She is about to throw a party for her friend and questions her past and her present existence.

Each woman, appears to be strong and successful on the outside, but each is struggling with their emotions and they all find their lives to be a difficult. They are each unhappy with the way their lives have panned out and want to free themselves any way they can. Just existing is an effort to each of them. They each contemplate ways of escaping their lives, even considering suicide as an easy way out.

The main theme of the book deals with the outside appearance of sanity and the inside torment of insanity. They all feel that they are failures in what they do, yet to others they are seen as successes. Another big theme of the book is lesbianism. Virginia toys with making her new character, Mrs Dalloway love a woman; Laura Brown kisses another woman, wondering what a full blown relationship with one would be like and Clarissa has lived as a couple with a woman for eighteen years, but wonders what it would have been like if she had married her gay friend Richard.

Each character is also interlinked by flowers,each putting yellow roses to good use. Their days follow similar routines which link the stories together.

This book is a lovely book to read and I would recommend it. I did enjoy it once I got into it and guessed some of the links between the women before I finished reading it. By the end of the book, you will see how all their lives are intertwined.


  1. Have you ever read Mrs Dalloway? If not, I think you would find it really interesting after reading the Hours. I studied Mrs Dalloway for the English Lit bit of my degree, and I remember all the stuff about the yellow roses, and the party planning.

  2. I watched the film of this a few years back but haven't yet gotten around to reading the book depite always seeing it available in the library. It seems like a book that even though it's fairly short I'd probably need a little patience with reading it that I don't have at the moment. Maybe I'll give it a chance soon. Thanks for the review.

  3. Mrs. Dalloway was a favorite of mine, but The Hours didn't do anything for me. I read it several years ago, so I can't remember what about it irked me so much, but I remember being glad to be done with it and disinclined to read his other books.

    I am happy to have stumbled across your blog, though! It is beautiful! I love the red background and yellow flowers! It looks like a fancy scrapbook page. Did you make the template yourself?

  4. I would like to read this one day. Thanks for the review!

  5. I agree with you. Subtle and beautiful. I loved this book.


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