Title: The Hours
Author: Michael Cunningham
Summary: Passionate, profound, and deeply moving, The Hours is the story of three women: Clarissa Vaughna, who one New York Morning goes about planning a party in honor of a beloved friend; Laura Brown, who in a 1950's Los Angeles suburb slowly begins to feel the constraints of a perfect family home; and Virginia Woolf, recuperating with her husband in a London suburb, and beginning to write Mrs. Dalloway. Bu the end of the novel, the stories have intertwined, and finally come together in an act of subtle and haunting grace, demonstrating Michael Cunningham’s deep empathy for his characters as well as the extraordinary resonance of his prose.
My Rating: 8.5/10
What I liked/disliked about the book: I found my self to be wrapped up in this book, it was hard to put down, and over all I enjoyed it.
The book is not a light read, in fact it can be a bit depressing at times, but it deals with a very important topic, and I think Cunningham portrayed that beautifully in his novel. The book deals with three middle aged women, all who are suffering from loneliness, depression and feeling trapped in their lives; all of whom live in different time periods. The novel is broken down into chapters, with each chapter focusing on a different woman, but they manage to come together very well. Which surprised me because when I found it was written this way I though it would read more like individual stories, but once I got to reading it I found that all three stories came together nicely.
I think the author did a great job at showcasing that these problem women faced which have continued on through the decades, and that even those women who have the “perfect” life, feel trapped, scared and alone. The author portrayed all of these messages and their emotions very well. Not a lot happens during the book, instead a very important message come across, how women face these emotions and problems, and have been facing them for years, but rarely do they have a voice. I remember studying literature by women in a class a few years ago, and this was on of the reoccurring themes I learned about during the 1900s-1960s (or thereabouts) so I think they author did a very good job at recreating this in the book. I was also surprised about the connection between some of the characters, especially at the end. I was not expecting that at all, nor did I ever make the connection. But I still enjoyed it.
What I didn’t like. The novel, can be a bit of a downer, and I would have rather had each woman’s story told, then brought together, instead of having scrambled up chapters. I think it would have made it easier to keep track of the characters this way. I would have also liked some of the back story and relationships between the various characters better mapped out and explained, especially Clarissa’s. I found that there were times, I was trying to figure out how everyone in her life came to be there, and was also confused on who was who. Other than that, the book was well done, and pushes out a very important message.
I'm also not a fan of the movie-tie-in cover, but it was a dollar at a used bookstore, so what can you do?
Would I recommend it to read: I would recommend the book, but I think I’d only recommend to a select audience. I can definitely see people who would not enjoy the book, and being frustrated with it. Although, the claim of “a woman who has everything, so therefore she must be happy,” as to why people don’t like the characters and the books bug me. But that is a whole can of worms I won’t get into here.
What to read next: Mrs. Dalloway, The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gillman
Challenges: Read ‘n’ Review, Pages Read, 10/10 Challenge, 100+ Challenge, 451 Challenge, RYOB Challenge