Cover image for The hours
The hours
Cunningham, Michael, 1952-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Picador USA, [2000?]

Physical Description:
229 pages ; 21 cm
General Note:
Originally published: 1998.
Reading Level:
960 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR UG 6.6 9.0 31227.

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
FICTION Adult Fiction Central Library
FICTION Adult Fiction Open Shelf
FICTION Adult Fiction Open Shelf

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The Pulitzer Prize-winning novel becomes a motion picture starring Meryl Streep, Julianne Moore, and Nicole Kidman, directed by Stephen Daldry from a screenplay by David Hare

The Hours tells the story of three women: Virginia Woolf, beginning to write Mrs. Dalloway as she recuperates in a London suburb with her husband in 1923; Clarissa Vaughan, beloved friend of an acclaimed poet dying from AIDS, who in modern-day New York is planning a party in his honor; and Laura Brown, in a 1949 Los Angeles suburb, who slowly begins to feel the constraints of a perfect family and home. By the end of the novel, these three stories intertwine in remarkable ways, and finally come together in an act of subtle and haunting grace. nbsp; The Hours is the winner of the 1999 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.

Author Notes

Michael Cunningham was born November 6, 1952 in Cincinnati, Ohio and grew up in Pasadena, California. He received a B.A. in English literature from Stanford University and an M.F.A. in creative writing from the University of Iowa.

Cunningham is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1993 and a Whiting Writers' Award in 1995. In 1999, he received the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the PEN/Faulkner Award for his novel, The Hours, which was later made into an Oscar-winning 2002 movie of the same name starring Nicole Kidman, Meryl Streep and Julianne Moore.

Cunningham taught at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Massachusetts and in the creative writing M.F.A. program at Brooklyn College. He is a senior lecturer of creative writing at Yale University.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

It takes courage to emulate a revered and brilliant writer, not to mention transforming her into a character. Cunningham has done this and more in his third novel, a graceful and passionate homage to Virginia Woolf, his goddess and his muse. The Hours was her working title for what became Mrs. Dalloway, the template for this evocative tale, and Cunningham makes beautiful, improvisational use of every facet of Woolf's novel and life story. He neatly cuts back and forth in time among three women: Woolf, whom he portrays in the throes of writing Mrs. Dalloway and contemplating suicide; Laura, a young wife and mother suffocating in the confines of her tidy little life in L.A. in 1949; and Clarissa, who is giving a party in the present in New York City for her closest friend, Richard, a writer dying of AIDS. Clarissa is Mrs. Dalloway once removed--a distinguished book editor and mother of a teenage daughter, she has lived with her female lover for 18 years. These particulars match surprising well with the intellectual, sexual, and artistic complexities of Bloomsbury, Woolf's hothouse world, thus revealing the full extent of Cunningham's identification with his mentor. And his prose! He is almost eerily fluent in Woolf's exquisitely orchestrated elucidation of the torrent of thoughts, memories, longings, and regrets that surges ceaselessly through the mind. Even if Cunningham's moving tribute served only to steer readers to Woolf's incomparable books, he would deserve praise, but he has accomplished much more than that. He has reaffirmed that Woolf is of lasting significance, that the questions she asked about life remain urgent, and that, in spite of sorrow, pain, and the promise of death, the simplest gestures--walking out the door on a lovely morning, setting a vase of roses on a table--can be, for one shining moment, enough. (Reviewed September 15, 1998)0374172897Donna Seaman

Publisher's Weekly Review

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. Along the way, rich and beautifully nuanced scenes follow one upon the other: Virginia, tired and weak, irked by the early arrival of headstrong sister Vanessa, her three children and the dead bird they bury in the backyard; Laura's afternoon escape to an L.A. hotel to read for a few hours; Clarissa's anguished witnessing of her friend's suicidal jump down an airshaft, rendered with unforgettable detail. 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. (Nov.) FYI: The Hours was a working title that Woolf for a time gave to Mrs. Dalloway. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

This Pulitzer Prize-winning exploration of loneliness, desperation, and mortality receives a sensitive interpretation from Cunningham himself. He constantly shifts among days in the lives of three women-novelist Virginia Woolf in the 1920s, a bored housewife in the 1950s, and a New York editor in the 1990s whose former lover is dying of AIDS-as unexpected connections among the protagonists are slowly revealed. Though vastly superior to its rather heavy-handed film adaptation, The Hours is still not without its faults, with the contemporary scenes having a specificity and immediacy missing from the other sections. The author reads with a voice and cadence similar to that of Elliott Gould; he makes up for his lack of polish through pauses and emphases that accentuate his characters and themes. Recommended for all collections.-Michael Adams, CUNY Graduate Ctr. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



"A smashing literary tour de force and an utterly invigorating reading experience. If this book does not make you jump up from the sofa, looking at life and literature in new ways, check to see if you have a pulse." --USA Today "An exquisitely written, kaleidoscopic work that anchors a floating postmodern world on pre-modern caissons of love, grief, and transcendent longing." --Los Angeles Times "Cunningham has created something original, a trio of richly interwoven tales...his most mature and masterful work." --The Washington Post Book World Excerpted from The Hours: A Novel by Michael Cunningham All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.