Wednesday, April 8, 2015

The Hours by Michael Cunningham

**I want to preface this review by saying that yes, I did see the movie based on this novel, which followed it pretty much 100 percent, but I will not be comparing the two.  I want to review the book as written.**

The Hours is a nicely written novel by Michael Cunningham.  It is voiced by three separate females, in three separate situations.  Some might see this as a feminist writing, or as a Lesbian writing, but I saw many factors played out. 

First Virginia Woolf, historically, she was a writer who committed suicide by drowning herself in a river.  In this novel, she is focusing on her writing of, Mrs. Dalloway.  She incorporates this piece of writing into her own life and experiences as a woman, a clearly depressed and lonely woman.  Virginia feels smothered, by the times, her husband, her lack of control over her own life, as a woman, wife, and artist.  It eats at her, affects her...her desires personal and professional.

The Second woman, Mrs. Dalloway (Clarissa), 21st Century female, Lesbian, who has a relationship/friendship with a male, Richard, who is dying of AIDS.  She is planning a party for him.  He has won a prize for his writing and she wants to celebrate it for him.  Richard, has other plans, and as his health deteriorates, he knows death is imminent.  Clarissa, spends the day reflecting on her life as a woman, her past romantic relationship with Richard, her life now with her partner Sally, and her daughter, Julia.  She feels lost, and questioning who she has become, homemaker, housewife.

The third woman, Laura Brown, a pregnant housewife of the 50's.  She is perfect, at least to her husband, her child and the neighbors.  She is not necessarily happy with the role she is playing. She has her own mind, her own desires, which she cannot express in the social milieu she lives in. She struggles with who she is, she wants, something...and it seems throughout the novel is unable to make a full picture of it.  Her story is one of stifling womanhood left to play the role in society she is not quite sure is what she wants. 

The way that Cunningham writes these stories, and uses the voices of the women to connect with what women have gone through, are going through is spot on.  It is very easy to see how this book won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the PEN/Faulkner Awards.  

I really enjoyed the quote from the book:  "We live our lives, do whatever we do, and then we sleep. It's as simple and ordinary as that. A few jump out windows, or drown themselves, or take pills; more die by accident; and most of us are slowly devoured by some disease, or, if we're very fortunate, by time itself. There's just this for consolation: an hour here or there when our lives seem, against all odds & expectations, to burst open & give us everything we've ever imagined, though everyone but children (and perhaps even they) know these hours will inevitably be followed by others, far darker and more difficult. Still, we cherish the city, the morning, we hope, more than anything for more. Heaven only knows why we love it so."

A great read, quite the thinker, highly recommend *****

For more about the book and Michael Cunningham visit:

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