Book Reviews of The Hours

The Hours
The Hours
Author: Michael Cunningham
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ISBN-13: 9780312243029
ISBN-10: 0312243022
Publication Date: 1/15/2000
Pages: 240
Rating:
  • Currently 3.6/5 Stars.
 397

3.6 stars, based on 397 ratings
Publisher: Picador
Book Type: Paperback
Reviews: Amazon | Write a Review

86 Book Reviews submitted by our Members...sorted by voted most helpful

reviewed The Hours on + 22 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 6
Interesting read - starts off slow but culminates into a surprisingly touching story. The three characters merge into one story that is tied together not only narratively but emotionally. Keep the tissues close!
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Helpful Score: 4
Winner of Pulitzer Prize. Having seen the film version of this book, I was surprised that I was able to read it until the end. It is well written novel about three women whose lives are entwined. It is sad and uplifting at same time because it allows women space to be different from the "normal" version of women. There is an element of Lesbianism in all these women's lives although it is not made the most significant element of the novel.
reviewed The Hours on + 25 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 3
This book is a Pulitzer Prize winner and a great read. The story of 3 women envelope you during this read. I felt real empathy for the characters and could relate to many of the feelings so eloquently expressed in the book. A great opportunity to reflect on our own lives.
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Helpful Score: 3
This is one of the best books I've ever read - brilliant and moving, and the way everything ties together and the three plots connect....simply lovely.
reviewed The Hours on
Helpful Score: 3
1999 Pulitzer Prize and 1999 Pen/Faulkner award. This treasure inspired me to try to read all Pulitzer award-winning novelists' work (I'm still reading, of course). The movie was very enjoyable, but the book was even more profound. The language is beautiful and takes on a life of its own. The book will certainly have a special place on my bookshelf - among my favorites.
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Helpful Score: 2
If you are in the mood for a deep read, this is wonderful--not that fluffy stuff that your done in 3 hours -- yes it was a feel good cozy read but you could of taken it or left it. This is a novel of 3 women, each a seperate story and each very likeable. All three working towards the end of the story to come together as one fantastic read. When you are done-you feel like you just read a novel well worth your time. Very well written. Will make you think, feel, and wonder, and isn't that what a good novel is supposed to do?
reviewed The Hours on + 42 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
Story of 3 women in the 1950's, Virginia Woolf being one of them, whose husband is writing a book. This was made into a movie starring Meryl Strip, Julianne Moore, and Nicole Kidman.
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Helpful Score: 1
Really cool book. I didnt see the movie & that really doesn't look like Nicole Kidman on the cover, nor did I ever read Mrs.Dalloway, but I still enjoyed this book. It's interesting how these women spend their days, it's contemplative & they are somewhat self-absorbed women but I think they illustrate the importance of the choices we make in our lives as women, mothers & friends.
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Helpful Score: 1
Very good read. Tie in's to past literary scholars, etc. Enjoyable!
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Helpful Score: 1
An excellent novel, but if one writes a novel inspired by a classic, inevitably comparisons will be drawn. Not as good as Mrs. Dalloway. There, I said it. But still worth reading.
reviewed The Hours on + 8 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Absolutely beautiful. A good novel doesn't get any better than this! I love the writing, the characters, the romance, the tragedy, the literary life. This guy is a genius.
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Helpful Score: 1
Winner of the Pen/Faulkner Award for fiction. Better than the movie.
reviewed The Hours on + 88 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
If you have read Virginia Wolf's "Mrs. Dalloway," this is a great complimentary book. If not, it can stand alone in beauty and intricacy.
reviewed The Hours on + 14 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
This is the story of three women and the struggle with homosexuality. It was made into a movie.
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Helpful Score: 1
Self-absorption taken to extreme.
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Helpful Score: 1
I loved this book! Reading Mrs. Dalloway along with it is key and read it before you see the movie.
reviewed The Hours on + 4 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
One of the most beautifully written books I've ever read.
reviewed The Hours on + 54 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Touches on the AIDS pandemic of the 1990s in a more personal way than we are used to seeing; albeit brief. The twist at the end was so obvious that I felt silly for being surprised. But it was still well-played and seemlessly done. I will say that I was left depressed at the end. It is true that we humans often feel that life seems to drag on - day after day and hour after hour.
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I really liked this book, a little hard to follow sometimes but overall good
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I'm surprised this book has so many stars. I tried to read it but it was so jumbled up, I just gave up. Maybe the movie is better.
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Interesting stories. A little wierd.
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I really didn't enjoy this book. It seemed really pessimistic and pretty dry to me. The entire plot was horribly contrived. You kept waiting for it to "get to the good part" and it never did.
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The writer of this novel has undeniable talent for prose, and while the story he weaves is relevant and literary, it can sometimes be too unbearably depressing to get through. However, I'd still recommend it as reading, especially if you've read the classic "Mrs Dalloway", from which this modern novel was inspired. Divided into different sections named after its three main characters, the book weaves a tale involving sexuality and suicide concerning a modern-day bisexual, a depressed 1950s housewife, and Virginia Woolf herself. A relatively quick read, with moody and lyrical prose, but only for those who think they can handle a quick dose of psychological darkness.
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I could not get interested in this book. I'm not sure if it was the narrator's monotone or the story itself that turned me off, but I listened to the first disc and gave up.
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better than the movie
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I read the book after seeing the movie. It's a very touching book, the story of three women and their lives which in the end are so entwined.
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book that turned into a movie. interesting read, a sympathetic novel. it is inspired by a Virginia Woolf novel, Mrs. Dalloway. You do not need to know Woolf to read The Hours, you are just cheating yourself if you dont go read her next. (Mrs. Dalloway is one of the finest books ever. Go read that instead of eating now) However, if The Hours turns you into Virginia Woolf's biggest reader, as it did me, then it is not in vain.
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The interwoven themes and plots of this book were amazing and genius. I have rarely felt so deeply while reading a work of fiction as I did with this one.
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Michael Cunningham's clever adaptation of Virginia Woolf's Mrs. Dalloway combines the beauty and tragedy of everyday life with the hopes and dreams of the book's characters in a tragic, joyful and ultimately unforgetable way. Excellent book that I had a hard time parting with.
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Very good story, but it was a bit depressing. It's all about three different women and how they deal with death. Not a happy read.
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Cunningham has provided a story of three extraordinary women: a 1950s California housewife, a 2000s New York editor, and the magnificent 1920s Virgina Woolf. Woolf is on the cusp of creating her masterpiece, Mrs. Dalloway, and the women who follow her in history read it and experience it. Beautifully written, it's a great read for open-minded thinkers everywhere. Now an Oscar-winning motion picture.
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This book was very well written and intriguing.
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Enjoyable book, the ending surprised me. Read it prior to the movie.
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This is by far his best book so far
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better than movie.
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FROM THE PUBLISHER
In The Hours, Michael Cunningham draws 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 modern American women who are trying to make rewarding lives for themselves in spite of the demands of friends, lovers, and family. Clarissa Vaughan is a book editor who lives in present-day Greenwich Village; when we meet her, she is buying flowers to display at a party for her friend Richard, an ailing poet who has just won a major literary prize. Laura Brown is a housewife in postwar California who is bringing up her only son and looking for her true life outside of her stifling marriage. With rare ease and assurance, Cunningham makes the two women's lives converge with Virginia Woolf's in an unexpected and heart-breaking way during the party for Richard.
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Saw the movie first....then had to find the book to read! Read in one evening.
The story of three women...passionate, profound and deeply moving.
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A light and easy read. This is the story of three women living in different eras whose very different lives all end up relating to one another.
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One of my favorite novels by Michael Cunningham. I would definitely recommend this to anyone who is looking for a great read.
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I didn't get into this book at all, but it seems to be really popular.
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Took a little to get into but then it's great.
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EXCELLENT book!!! My favorite book of all time. I read it all in one sitting. I could not put it down.

BACK COVER
Passionate, Profound and deeply moving, THE HOURS is the story of three women: Clarissa Vaughan, who one New York morning goes about planning a party in honor of her beloved friend; Laura Brown, who in a 1950's Los Angeles suburb slowly begins to feel the constraints of a perfect family and home; and Virginia Woolf, recuperating with her husband in a London suburb, and beginning to write MRS. DALLOWAY. By 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.
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Perhaps one of the best books I've read, EVER!
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This book is well written, but the subject matter didn't appeal to me.
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Interesting...I have never read Virginia Wolf's books, nor have I ever read about her.
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Well written book about 3 very different women, better than the movie!
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Michael Cunningham tells the story of three women: one contemporary woman who lives in NYC, one housewife of the 50's, and Virginia Woolf. This is such an amazing novel! Winner of the Pulitzer Prize.
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I read this with my book club. Everyone raved about it but me, I had a little trouble getting through it.
reviewed The Hours on + 5 more book reviews
But a pale shadow of the work from which it draws. Why not read Virginia Woolf instead? It seems to me that she did the work and he got the credit.
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Deep, a bit slow, but glad I read it.
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One of the best books I've ever read. The way the stories are woven together, separate yet connected, with themes throughout is really amazing. There is a reason this book won the Pulitzer. It is beautifully written yet easy to read, funny and heartbreaking, everything you could want in a book.
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You really need to read this all the way through before you see the movie. It helps you understand it. Of course in the movie, they left out some important parts.
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Very well written. Unusual plot: combines the lives of two 20th century women with that of Virginia Wolff. Interesting on how a male author captures the inner lives of women so well. May not be for everyone as the book is thin on plot. I mainly enjoyed it for the good writing.
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This was a very hard book for me to read. I don't think I had the schema for it!
I liked the movie better!
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To be honest, I just couldn\'t get into this book (same as the movie). Yes, it\'s very well written and has lots of praise heaped upon it but not my cup of tea.
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Thought if I read the book, the movie might make more sense. They were both equally lacking. I want "The Hours" I wasted back!
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The hours was by far one of my favorite reads of the year. The author brilliantly weaves the lives of three people from three different times, Clarissa Vaughan, Laura Brown and Virginia Woolf and intertwines all three lives so hauntingly beautifully and poignant, I read the last page, turned over the book and began reading it again. I saw and loved the movie before reading the book and so thrilled I chose to pick it up regardless. There is so much more that writing can do for a story that visuals cannot.
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A beautifully written book which links the stories of three women together. Virginia Woolf, the author, who writes of Mrs. Dalloway, first name Clarissa; Clarissa Vaughan, nicknamed Mrs. Dalloway by her friend and ex-lover, Richard; and Richard's mother, Laura, who is reading the book. This moves through different times and interweaves the stories. Very lyrical with wonderful characters that you feel for.
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My advice before you read this: first read Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf. The three intersecting lives in "The Hours" are alternately about a modern day NYC literary type nicknamed Mrs. Dalloway, a 1950s suburban housewife reading Mrs. Dalloway, and a day in the life of the author when she was writing Mrs. Dalloway. Although the stories take place in different times and places, they weave together, puzzle-piece style. Structurally, I thought this time-jumping, literary-centric approach worked better in A.S. Byatt's "Posessession" (as they say: if you liked Possession, try The Hours!!) but it's still a good read, with some gorgeously-written passages and insights that make you say ah-ha. What I related to the most is the characters' sense of dislocation, where it can feel like you're an actor in your own life, waiting in the wings and about to go on, despite being underdressed and ill-rehearsed.
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A very beautiful and compelling book. I admit that I may not have read this book on my own, but I studied it in a class about texts derived from other texts. I read the book way ahead of class schedule, unable to put it down. The stories of each of the women are wonderful, I love the time periods represented, and how they weave together so seamlessly. Another reviewer complained that this is an imitation of Mrs. Dalloway and that it would be better to just read the original. I read Mrs. Dalloway in conjuction with this book and really Cunningham's work enriches the discussion that Woolf began. It's amazing how he has re-imagined and shaped the tale. We do the same thing with myths and folk tales all the time: old human stories re-cast by our present experiences. When done well, the story resonates with us in both familiar and unfamiliar ways, and that is ultimately enjoyable. Cunningham succeeded doing just that in this novel.
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Cunningham is a great writer, and this is worth reading.
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I had never watched the movie or really heard what it was about, so throughout the whole book I was trying to piece it together. It was interesting to see how all of the pieces fit. The storyline was intriguing, but the book really didn't keep me very engaged. Parts of it did, but not the book as a whole.
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Did not find this book very interesting.
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Very good read. How it came together at the end was amazing.
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An incredible novel.
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This is a winner of the Pulitzer Prize. Although I did not read this book, I saw the movie and it was one of my favorites.
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This book was very well written although abit slow in places it was overall a good read
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This is one super book! Read it and discover three unforgettable women.
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Unexpected. A fast read.
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I enjoyed the 2002 film starring Nicole Kidman, Julianne Moore, Meryl Streep, Ed Harris, John C. Reilly, and Toni Collette.

From Publishers Weekly
At first blush, the structural and thematic conceits of this novel--three interwoven novellas in varying degrees connected to Virginia Woolf--seem like the stuff of a graduate student's pipe dream: a great idea in the dorm room that betrays a lack of originality. But as soon as one dips into Cunningham's prologue, in which Woolf's suicide is rendered with a precise yet harrowing matter-of-factness ("She hurries from the house, wearing a coat too heavy for the weather. It is 1941. She has left a note for Leonard, and another for Vanessa."), the reader becomes completely entranced. This book more than fulfills the promise of Cunningham's 1990 debut, A Home at the End of the World, while showing that sweep does not necessarily require the sprawl of his second book, Flesh and Blood. In alternating chapters, the three stories unfold: "Mrs. Woolf," about Virginia's own struggle to find an opening for Mrs. Dalloway in 1923; "Mrs. Brown," about one Laura Brown's efforts to escape, somehow, an airless marriage in California in 1949 while, coincidentally, reading Mrs. Dalloway; and "Mrs. Dalloway," which is set in 1990s Greenwich Village and concerns Clarissa Vaughan's preparations for a party for her gay--and dying--friend, Richard, who has nicknamed her Mrs. Dalloway. Cunningham's insightful use of the historical record concerning Woolf in her household outside London in the 1920s is matched by his audacious imagining of her inner lifeand his equally impressive plunges into the lives of Laura and Clarissa. The book would have been altogether absorbing had it been linked only thematically. However, Cunningham cleverly manages to pull the stories even more intimately togther in the closing pages. The overall effect of this book is twofold. First, it makes a reader hunger to know all about Woolf, again; readers may be spooked at times, as Woolf's spirit emerges in unexpected ways, but hers is an abiding presence, more about living than dying. Second, and this is the gargantuan accomplishment of this small book, it makes a reader believe in the possibility and depth of a communality based on great literature, literature that has shown people how to live and what to ask of life. FYI: The Hours was a working title that Woolf for a time gave to Mrs. Dalloway.
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Great Movie Great Book
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This book was way too literary for me and I just couldn't get into it. I've only put down 3 books in my life and not finished them . ..this was one of them.
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Intertwining stories of three women in different places and times.
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Very good book. Perhaps a bit overwrought and precious but the writing is excellent and most of the characters well developed.
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I really enjoyed this book.
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Wonderful story -- great twits which tie everything together.

GREAT summer Read!
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The Hours is both an homage to Virginia Woolf and very much its own creature. Even as Michael Cunningham brings his literary idol back to life, he intertwines her story with those of two more contemporary women. One gray suburban London morning in 1923, Woolf awakens from a dream that will soon lead to Mrs. Dalloway. In the present, on a beautiful June day in Greenwich Village, 52-year-old Clarissa Vaughan is planning a party for her oldest love, a poet dying of AIDS. And in Los Angeles in 1949, Laura Brown, pregnant and unsettled, does her best to prepare for her husband's birthday, but can't seem to stop reading Woolf. These women's lives are linked both by the 1925 novel and by the few precious moments of possibility each keeps returning to. Clarissa is to eventually realize:
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.... Still, we cherish the city, the morning; we hope, more than anything, for more.
As Cunningham moves between the three women, his
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CLEVER BUT DRY.
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I didn't actually read this book, I've owned it for awhile and didn't get around to it! But from the back cover, it sounds really interesting!
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Passionate, profound and deeply moving, The Hours is the story of three women: Clarissa Vaughn, who one New York morning goes about palnning 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 and home; and Virginia Woolf, recuperating with her husband in a London suburb, and beginning to write Mrs. Dalloway. by the end fo the novel, the stories have intertwined, and finally come together in and act of subtle and hounting grace, demonstrating Michael Cunningham's deep empathy for his characters as well as the extrordinary resonance of his prose.
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I LOVED this book! I found a first edition, so I am posting my large paperback that is in excellent condition!

Summary:
The Hours is both an homage to Virginia Woolf and very much its own creature. Even as Michael Cunningham brings his literary idol back to life, he intertwines her story with those of two more contemporary women. One gray suburban London morning in 1923, Woolf awakens from a dream that will soon lead to Mrs. Dalloway. In the present, on a beautiful June day in Greenwich Village, 52-year-old Clarissa Vaughan is planning a party for her oldest love, a poet dying of AIDS. And in Los Angeles in 1949, Laura Brown, pregnant and unsettled, does her best to prepare for her husband's birthday, but can't seem to stop reading Woolf. These women's lives are linked both by the 1925 novel and by the few precious moments of possibility each keeps returning to. Clarissa is to eventually realize:

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.... Still, we cherish the city, the morning; we hope, more than anything, for more.

As Cunningham moves between the three women, his transitions are seamless. One early chapter ends with Woolf picking up her pen and composing her first sentence, "Mrs. Dalloway said she would buy the flowers herself." The next begins with Laura rejoicing over that line and the fictional universe she is about to enter. Clarissa's day, on the other hand, is a mirror of Mrs. Dalloway's--with, however, an appropriate degree of modern beveling as Cunningham updates and elaborates his source of inspiration. Clarissa knows that her desire to give her friend the perfect party may seem trivial to many. Yet it seems better to her than shutting down in the face of disaster and despair. Like its literary inspiration, The Hours is a hymn to consciousness and the beauties and losses it perceives. It is also a reminder that, as Cunningham again and again makes us realize, art belongs to far more than just "the world of objects."
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Great Book!!!!
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From the back cover:
Passionate, profound, and deeply moving, The Hours is the story of three women: Clarissa Vaughan, 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 and home; and Virginia Woolf, recuperating with her husband in a London suburb, and beginning to write Mrs. Dalloway. By the end of the novel, the stories have intertwined, and finally come together in an act of subtle and haunting grace...
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My adult daugher loves this book but I just haven't gotten around to it.
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I did not read.
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I have not had time to read this one so I cannot rate this book yet.