Michael Cunningham’s novel, The Hours, tells the stories of three women from different time periods, Virginia Woolf, Laura Brown, and Clarissa Vaughn, all of whom feel burdened by the unclear roles they play in society and in their own lives. Each character sets for herself a goal that might provide a sense of purpose. These include writing a book, baking a cake, and hosting a party for a friend. While such tasks give them something to fill the hours in a day, they offer these women no real pleasure. They construct impenetrable walls around themselves, and over time, the walls have grown taller and have attracted vines, making it harder and harder for the women behind them to escape. The book effectively bares these feelings of imprisonment and captures perfectly the sense of liberation these women experience when they finally set themselves free.
The Hours is great literature. Not only does Cunningham tell a captivating story, but he writes it so beautifully and with so much detail and emotion that you feel completely transported into the minds and bodies of these women. It says from a review on the back cover of my copy: “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.” I could not agree more. The book made me excited to get up and write, like Virginia Woolf must have felt after dreaming about a woman going to buy flowers (*Hint Hint: you won’t get my reference or much of this book if you haven’t read Mrs. Dalloway, Mrs. Woolf’s magnum opus – I recommend that you pick up both!).
Reviewed by: Whitney
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