Monday, March 27, 2017

The Hours by Michael Cunningham

The Hours by Michael Cunningham is one of the most poignant novels I've read in quite some time. My life is so very different from all of the characters, yet as a woman I resonated with each woman on a very real level; I understood their plight and Cunningham's writing creates a vivid portrait of women's actual struggles and the choices they must make in their lives, outside of simply their gender. It's a novel of love, of decision, of friendship, of destiny.

I was openly shocked to find myself so in love with this book. I have read many Pulitzer Prize novels and always found them lacking in both literary style and characterization; long and plodding as they often are. (Except Empire Falls by Richard Russo - top notch!) Yet, this one is not. I would recommend this as a must read to anyone for the very portrait of intertwined lives and lessons embedded in the well-written pages.

In the novel, Cunningham draws upon the real life of Virginia Woolf, and intertwines her destiny to write Mrs. Dalloway within two other characters, both more modern than she: Clarissa Vaughn, whom has been nicknamed Mrs. Dalloway by her dear friend poetic friend in the 1990s, and Lauren Brown, a housewife post WWII. The two women could not live a more different life than Woolf, but their stories of hope, love, and tenderness span decades and decades of time. What I loved so much was the way Cunningham moved from 1920s London, to post WWII, to the 1990s without ever capitalizing on such an obvious time-hop. The women meet in a way that is unexpected and quite surreal - and not what you assume when I say "meet."

This novel impacted me in two ways: 1) Need to read Mrs. Dalloway now. That must happen. 2) Less is sometimes more, especially on the literary page. Cunningham packs a lot into a short 228 pages, and said more than many tomes I've read.

I give this novel a well deserved ☕☕☕☕☕ and put it on a clear favorites list. Give this a read, it won't take you long and it won't be disappointing.

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