The Hours

Michael Cunningham

Exiled in Richmond in the 1920s, taken from her beloved Bloomsbury and watched by her husband Leonard, Virginia Woolf struggles to tame her rebellious mind and make a start on her new novel.

In the brooding heat of 1940s Los Angeles, a young wife and mother yearns to escape the claustrophobia of suburban domesticity and read her precious copy of ‘Mrs Dalloway’.

And in New York in the 1990s, Clarissa Vaughan steps out of her smart Greenwich Village apartment and goes shopping for flowers for the party she is giving in honour of her life-long friend Richard, an award-winning poet whose mind and body are being ravaged by AIDS.

Michael Cunningham’s exquisite and deeply moving novel is a meditation on artistic behaviour, failure, love and madness. Moving effortlessly across the decades and between England and America, Cunningham’s elegant, haunting prose explores the pain and trauma of creativity and the immutable relationship between writer and reader.

Reviews of The Hours

  • ‘“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