Book 2 of 2020
The Hours by Michael Cunningham
Pulitzer Prize 1997
Those few precious hours over a lifetime when we feel we have a chance to do something special, to prove that we can do something that will forever immortalize us as someone exceptional
“There is 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 , though everyone but children (and perhaps even they) knows 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.”
~The Hours by Michael Cunningham
The story depicted in this novella is equal parts pain and beauty.
Pain being those interminable, almost unbearable hours life has to offer.
Always, the hours…
Beauty being those precious hours that stand out to you after decades have left them behind, but you still see them glittering, shining warmly as a reminder of what your life is all about
Three people are straddling life and death.
Michael Cunningham re-created Woolf’s personal story and interwove it with that of two characters in two later time periods who battled mental health issues.
Lives of 3 women:
1. The Author-Virginia Woolf while she is beginning to write her novel “Mrs. Dalloway” in 1923,
2. The Reader- Laura Brown, a housewife reading “Mrs. Dalloway” in LA in 1949, and
3. The Character- Clarissa a woman who seems to be a real life Mrs. Dalloway in current NYC.
Three stories that are equally mesmerising, and each linked to Virginia Woolf’s novel.
The Hours captured the interior world of these three women over the course of one day.
The Hours grapples with the thought life of vulnerable individuals. Cunningham distilled with insight and empathy the myriad shifts in mood over the course of an ordinary day: the dark abyss into which any ordinary person can descend when overwhelmed by self-loathing and rejection as well as the sunlit moments where life offers a gift that is accepted with gratitude.
The references to Virginia Woolf are omnipresent as she also comes to life under Cunningham’s pen along with Mrs Brown and “Mrs Dalloway”. Yes, it did relight a flame in me to read the primary Woolf works (Orlando, Mrs Dalloway, To The Lighthouse, The Waves).
Also I have to watch the movie