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- Publisher: FOURTH ESTATE LTD
- Format: Paperback | 240 pages
- Dimensions: 128mm x 194mm x 18mm | 181g
- Publication date: 7 October 1999
- Publication City/Country: London
- ISBN 10: 1841150355
- ISBN 13: 9781841150352
- Edition statement: Nachdr.
- Sales rank: 4,853
Winner of the 1999 Pulitzer Prize and Pen Faulkner prize. Made into an Oscar-winning film, 'The Hours' is a daring and deeply affecting novel inspired by the life and work of Virginia Woolf. In 1920s London, Virginia Woolf is fighting against her rebellious spirit as she attempts to make a start on her new novel. A young wife and mother, broiling in a suburb of 1940s Los Angeles, yearns to escape and read her precious copy of 'Mrs Dalloway'. And Clarissa Vaughan steps out of her smart Greenwich village apartment in 1990s New York to buy flowers for a party she is hosting for a dying friend. Moving effortlessly across the decades and between England and America, this exquisite novel intertwines the stories of three unforgettable women.
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Michael Cunningham was raised in Los Angeles and now lives in New York. His first novel, A Home at the End of the World, was published in 1990 and his second, Flesh and Blood, in 1995. His work has been published in the New Yorker.
'"The Hours" is a book which heightens the perception of the reader. Cunningham's craftsmanship is overwhelming.' Robert Farren, Independent on Sunday 'An extremely moving, original and memorable novel.' Hermione Lee, TLS 'Engrossing, imaginative and humane.' Richard Francis, Observer '"The Hours" refracts the lives of three women through the prism of a single day. Michael Cunningham evokes these three discrete characters with rare skill.' Financial Times 'The concept behind the novel is bold, the execution rich with feeling.' Helen Dunmore, The Times 'A sensitive marriage of intelligence, integrity and finely textured emotions.' Sunday Times 'Cunningham has found an American tone which is exhilaratingly modern - tense, tender and completely without strain.' Guardian
Steeped in Virginia Woolf, Cunningham (Flesh and Blood, 1995, etc.) offers up a sequel to the work of the great author, complete with her own pathos and brilliance. Cunningham tells three tales, interweaving them in cunning ways and, after the model of Mrs. Dalloway itself, allowing each only a day in the life of its central character. First comes Woolf herself, in June of 1923 (after a prologue describing her 1941 suicide). In Woolf's day (as in her writings), little "happens," though the profundities are great: Virginia works (on Mrs. Dalloway); her sister Vanessa visits; Virginia holds her madness at bay (just barely); and, over dinner, she convinces husband Leonard to move back to London from suburban Richmond. In the "Mrs. Brown" sections, a young woman named Sally Brown reads the novel Mrs. Dalloway, this in suburban L.A. (in 1949), where Sally has a three-year-old son, is pregnant again, and, preparing her husband's birthday celebration, fights off her own powerful despair. Finally, and at greatest length, is the present-time day in June of "Mrs. Dalloway," this being one Clarissa Vaughan of West 10th Street, NYC, years ago nicknamed Mrs. Dalloway by her then-lover and now-AIDS-victim Richard Brown - who, on this day in June, is to receive a major prize for poetry. Like the original Mrs. Dalloway, this Clarissa is planning a party (for Richard), goes out for flowers, observes the day, sees someone famous, thinks about life, time, the past, and love ("Now she knows: That was the moment, right then. There has been no other"). Much in fact does happen; much is lost, hoped for, feared, sometimes recovered ("It will serve as this afternoon's manifestation of the central mystery itself"), all in gorgeous, Woolfian, shimmering, perfectly observed prose. Hardly a false note in an extraordinary carrying on of a true greatness that doubted itself. (Kirkus Reviews)