The Hours is a story of three women, set in three different times (1920's, 1950's, 1990's) and places (England, Los Angeles, New York). Virginia Woolf starts writing her famous book Mrs. Dalloway, the book which Laura Brown reads thirty years later, while forty years after that, Clarissa Vaughan leaves her house to buy the flowers for a party. And so, one ordinary day in the lives of these extraordinary women can begin.
For writing this story, Michael Cunningham was awarded with the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, and he proves to deserve it on every single page of the book. The Hours (which was the original title of Woolf's Mrs. Dalloway) might seem difficult to read as each chapter is narrated from different perspective, yet, Cunningham manages to keep the story united thanks to the character of Virginia Woolf. Inspired by Woolf's modern style of writing, Cunningham writes in long, descriptive sentences, walking with his characters around New York or a small village in England, divining into the past and revealing heroines' histories, passions, loves and fears, while remaining in the present. There is seemingly no action. And yet, once you get use to the narrative style (notes in brackets and endless sentences), you realise you cannot breathe while reading certain parts of the book.
She picks up her pen.
Mrs. Dalloway said she would buy the flowers herself. (The Hours)
Writing this story, Cunningham clearly pays a tribute to Virginia Woolf. Although you probably fully enjoy certain small details of the book only if you dig into the original Mrs. Dalloway, you do not to read any of Woolf's books and the plot of The Hours still remains comprehensible. Reading the protagonists' stories, you are left asking yourself how it comes that something so ordinary seems like... nothing but ordinary. The book reminds us that sometimes, characters do not need to have super powers or that there has to be a handsome love interest to give a story its drive. On the contrary, The Hours demonstrates that our everyday life has a lot to offer.
It is the close of an ordinary day. (The Hours)
Michael Cunningham in his book The Hours creates vivid characters, whose problems and worries will quite possibly consume you and will not release you until the last page. Get ready for not wanting to read the last sentence - as that will mean the end of the day in the Virginia's, Laura's and Clarissa's lives, the end of the ordinary, yet powerful story.