Wednesday, September 5, 2007

The Hours - Michael Cunningham

Title: The Hours
Author: Michael Cunningham
Country: America
Year: 1998
Rating: B-
Pages: 230 pgs.

First sentence: She hurries from the house, wearing a coat too heavy for the weather.

Passionate, profound, and deeply moving. That is the description found on the back cover of my copy of The Hours. That statement places a large expectation in the mind of the reader. Does the novel live up to it? In some ways, yes. In others, no.

Michael Cunningham pays homage to Virginia Woolf in this novel about three women (including Virginia Woolf herself) from three different generations who are tied together by Woolf's novel Mrs Dalloway. Writing in a style reminiscent, but not quite as good, as Woolf herself, Cunningham takes you on a day's journey in the lives of these three women, as we see how their stories intertwine.

I felt the largest weakness of the novel was the one-dimensional aspect of the women, particularly Laura Brown and Clarissa. I was particularly disappointed with the imitative style of Clarissa's storyline. I was expecting something more out of a Pulitzer winning book.

Would I recommend The Hours to others? Maybe. I don't feel as if I wasted my time reading it. The quality of writing is superb, and for that alone, I feel it was worth the read. And I really enjoyed the symbolism he incorporates, particularly with roses. But it might not stick around on my bookshelf that much longer (keep an eye on my PBS account if you would like the book--it will probably end up there soon).

1 comment:

the individual voice said...

I think of The Hours as a jazz riff on Mrs. Dalloway, and the best way to appreciate their relationship is through reading The Hours with The Mrs. Dalloway Reader edited by Francine Prose. It's more thought-provoking. Maybe I'll post on it down the road. I read the pair last year, pre-bloglife.