A daring, deeply affecting third novel by the author of A Home at the End of the World and Flesh and Blood.
In The Hours, Michael Cunningham, widely praised as one of the most gifted writers of his generation, draws inventively on the life and work of Virginia Woolf to tell the story of a group of contemporary characters struggling with the conflicting claims of love and inheritance, hope and despair. The narrative of Woolf's last days before her suicide early in World War II counterpoints the fictional stories of Samuel, a famous poet whose life has been shadowed by his talented and troubled mother, and his lifelong friend Clarissa, who strives to forge a balanced and rewarding life in spite of the demands of friends, lovers, and family.
Passionate, profound, and deeply moving, this is Cunningham's most remarkable achievement to date.
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About the Author
Michael Cunningham was raised in Los Angeles and lives in New York City. He is the author of the novels A Home at the End of the World (Picador) and Flesh and Blood. His work has appeared in The New Yorker and Best American Short Stories, and he is the recipient of a Whiting Writer's Award. The Hours was a New York Times Bestseller, and was chosen as a Best Book of 1998 by The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and Publishers Weekly.
"The overall impression is that of a delicate, triumphant glance, an acknowledgement of Woolf that takes her into Cunningham's own territory, a place of late-century danger but also of treasurable hours."
--Michael Wood, The New York Times Book Review
"An exquisitely written, kaleidoscopic work that anchors a floating postmodern world on pre-modern caissons of love, grief and transcendent longing."
--Richard Eder, Los Angeles Times Book Review
"[Cunningham] has deftly created something original, a trio of richly interwoven tales that alternate with one another chapter by chapter, each of them entering the thoughts of a character as she moves through the small details of a day . . . Cunningham's emulation of such a revered writer as Woolf is courageous, and this is his most mature and masterful work."
--Jameson Currier, The Washington Post Book World
"Rich and beautifully nuanced scenes follow one upon the other . . . [a] gargantuan accomplishment."
--Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"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."
--Ann Prichard, USA Today
"Cunningham has created something original, a trio of richly interwoven tales...his most mature and masterful work."
--The Washington Post Book World
"The Hours is in fact a lovely triumph. Cunningham honors both Mrs. Dalloway and its creator with unerring sensitivity, thanks to his modesty of intention and his sovereignly affecting prose . . . With his elliptical evocation of Mrs. Dalloway, he has managed to pay great but quiet tribute--reminding us of the gorgeous, ferocious beauty of what endures."
--Gail Caldwell, The Boston Globe
"In his smart and playful new novel, Michael Cunningham has revisited, and masterfully reinvented, Virginia Woolf's great--and greatest--novel, Mrs. Dalloway . . . The triumph of The Hours is that it somehow manages to be both artful and sincere, striking nary a false note . . . And the triumph of the book is no less the triumph of its author. Just when it seemed that it was no longer permissible to pay respect to the literature of the past, Cunningham has done so with an undeniable skill and depth of feeling."
--Justin Cronin, Philadelphia Inquirer
"Cunningham writes beautifully about relationships, living and dying, and love...it's hard not to audibly gasp with both pleasure and shock."
--Detroit Free Press
"Luxurious . . . The Hours tells three interwoven stories; Woolf's novel echoes through all of them in interesting and uncanny ways.... Cunningham writes with an empathy that approaches Woolf's."
--Lisa Cohen, Newsday
"The Hours is one of the most ambitious, tightly conceived, and beautifully written of this season's fiction offerings . . . Cunningham has written lyrically, and has inhabited Woolf's prose magnificently."
--Amy Blair, The Boston Book Review
"Cunningham dazzles in his inspired novel The Hours."
"[A] fine novel . . . bringing to light the buried connection his three characters share, capturing in each the illuminating and transforming moment."
--Dallas Morning News
"[The Hours] is both a clever tribute to the life and work of Virginia Woolf, and a brilliant examination of the quietly desperate lives of three women."
"His language is always on key, unfailing and measured, rich without sating, and haunting in the way Woolf's is. It is resonant with the suggestiveness of suppressed desires and unexpressed needs."
--Alyce Miller, Chicago Tribune
"Intricate . . . richly imagined . . . a profoundly compassionate meditation on life and death."
"What, [Cunningham] essentially asks in The Hours, is it like to grow up and older, to succeed and fail, to have friends and lovers and children and parents who delight and disappoint, provide joy and sorrow?"
--Charles Ganee, Vogue
"[An] ambitious and largely successful attempt to weave the life and sensibility of Virginia Woolf into a story of his own characters."
"[A] brilliant tour de force . . . His ending is surprising and stunning. This is a skillfully wrought novel thoroughly imbued with the spirit of Virginia Woolf and crafted in keeping with her rare excellence."
--The Miami Herald
"Brilliant . . . haunting--winding skeins of words that, as they unspool, render vividly the three heroines' complex interior lives."
--St. Louis Post-Dispatch
"[A] remarkable new novel . . . A concise, brilliant rendering of three eras."
"Clever and beautifully rendered . . . In meshing the women's inner lives with Woolf's insights and themes, Cunningham creates a richly layered whole that suggests what we can reasonably ask of life."
--The Roanoke Times
"Cunningham here undertakes perhaps one of the most daunting literary projects imaginable . . . Cunningham's portrait of Woolf is heartbreaking . . . With The Hours, Cunningham has done the impossible: he has taken a canonical work of literature and, in reworking it, made it his own."
--Yale Book Review
"A novel so mesmerizing and true that it echoes not only in the mind but also in the heart long after it has had its final say . . . Triumphant . . . In paying homage to one visionary writer, Cunningham has proved himself to be another."
--New York Daily News
"Brilliant . . . It's the work of a talented writer taking an adventurous plunge below the obvious surface of things. The Hours has the heft of flesh and blood, the subtlety of art."
--The Hartford Courant
"At its best, and that is a lyrical, crystalline best, The Hours embodies a balance between lethal, life-changing vision and the daily, mundane work of caring, writing, and actually changing one's world."
National Book Critics Circle Award - Nominee, National Book Critics Circle Awards - Nominee, PEN/Faulkner Award Winner, ALA Stonewall Book Award - Winner, Boston Book Review - Nominee, Book Sense Book of the Year Award - Nominee, International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award - Nominee, Triangle Awards - Winner, National Books Critics Circle Awards - Nominee, Pulitzer Prize Winner, ALA Notable Books - Winner, Lambda Literary Award - Nominee