Title: The Hours
Author: Michael Cunningham
Genre: Fiction | Historical Fiction
Synopsis: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.
Final Rating: ♥♥ / ♥♥♥♥♥
I honestly don’t know why I read this book. Maybe it had to do with the fact that Virginia Woolf’s life and her untimely demise intrigues me. It may sound super morbid, but it’s the truth. Maybe that is one of the reasons I decided to give this book a chance. And another thing: for some strange reason, I thought one of the three women this novel discusses was Sylvia Plath. This is nobody’s fault but mine. I don’t even know how I got that idea…
This book did absolutely nothing for me. It took away the fascination I had for Virginia Woolf’s life. I was uninspired by it. I didn’t connect to the characters whatsoever, and more than that, I didn’t care if they lived or died. I thought they were slightly flat- nothing more than what their specific storyline focused on. The only reason I read until the end was because I was a little curious as to whether one character would die or not; although, like I said, it wouldn’t matter to me either way.
I thought the writing was pretentious. I’m sorry, but I’ve always been a fan of brevity. Like Saunders once wrote “A person can write: ‘There were, out in the bay, a number of rocks, islands of a sort, and upon these miniature islands, there resided a number of gulls, which, as the sun began to rise, came to life, ready to begin another day of searching for food.’ Or she can write: ‘On rocky islands gulls woke.” I felt there was an unnecessary complication to Cunningham’s writing. It didn’t feel natural. It felt like Cunningham was saying, “Look at my impeccable writing ability. Look at my fabulous vocabulary. Praise me.” To me, writing is supposed to be raw, honest, vulnerable. Writing isn’t a showing off competition- people should have had enough of that in school.
I also felt that the storyline was a tad predictable. The twist at the end? Yeah, not very twisty.
I’ve read reviews for this novel, people praising it beyond belief. Honestly, I don’t know what the appeal is. It’s probably just me and my annoyance for flowery prose. But it just didn’t do anything for me.