The Hours is a fantastic novel. A profound, passionate and moving book that manages to successfully tell three complete stories. Michael Cunningham shows his incredible skill for complex story telling, weaving together the tales of three women all connected by a book.
The book is Mrs. Dalloway, and the women, spanning generations and continents, are Virginia Woolf, Laura Brown, and Clarissa Vaughan. The book chronicles these women as they go about a single day in their lives, held together by the common thread of this novel. Woolf, of course, is in the process of writing the novel, while also recuperating in a London suburb. Laura Brown is a fifties housewife in Los Angeles, reading the novel while trying to plan a birthday party for her husband, and Clarissa Vaughan is a modern representation of Clarissa Dalloway.
With The Hours, Michael Cunningham has created a very original, and deeply moving book. His writing is exquisite and he has truly crafted a deeply exciting and original reading experience. Cunningham pays great tribute to Mrs. Woolf and Mrs. Dalloway, in The Hours, a work that is beautiful and enduring in its own right. Although it is in many ways a reinvention of Woolf’s classic novel, it reads completely sincere, and fresh.
The payoff is great, as he successfully intertwines the three separate stories for a satisfying, beautiful and tragic ending. It is an inspired, beautiful and deeply moving novel that manages to be fresh and original, while still acting as a great tribute.