Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Hours by Michael Cunningham

Many book bloggers have mentioned this novel as being brilliant, so I decided to read this Pulitzer winner over the weekend. My feelings were mixed. I can't say that this was an enjoyable read because the suffering of the various characters is rendered so realistically that it was painful to read, but the writing is very luminous and wonderful to read.

The book contains the stories of 3 different characters; Virginia Woolf in 1923, Mrs. Dalloway in the '90s, and Laura Brown in 1949. Each narrative details a day in the life of each woman much as the novel Mrs. Dalloway, written by Virginia Woolf, does. Though I have yet to read Mrs. Dalloway, I gather that the writing style is also quite similar - a stream of consciousness style that slips over and around the thoughts of the characters as they go about their day. Each character faces death in this novel and there doesn't seem to be any joy at all to look forward to or past happiness to dwell on. I found the whole thing horribly depressing! The best part, in more ways than one, was the ending. The author allows a small glimmer of hopefulness to scuttle through the cracks. Why do people love this novel so much? It must be the writing. I thought it was unbearably ambiguous and too full of despair for my liking and, aside from the Virginia Woolf character, I really had no sympathy for anyone else in the novel. Reading this wasn't a complete waste of time, but it wasn't an experience that I would want to repeat.

No comments:

Post a Comment