The Hours (Paperback)
Picador, 9780312305062, 240pp.
Publication Date: November 1, 2002
"The Hours" tells the story of three women: Virginia Woolf, beginning to write Mrs. Dalloway as she recuperates in a London suburb with her husband in 1923; Clarissa Vaughan, beloved friend of an acclaimed poet dying from AIDS, who in modern-day New York is planning a party in his honor; and Laura Brown, in a 1949 Los Angeles suburb, who slowly begins to feel the constraints of a perfect family and home. By the end of the novel, these three stories intertwine in remarkable ways, and finally come together in an act of subtle and haunting grace. "The Hours" is the winner of the 1999 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.
About the Author
Praise For The Hours…
“A smashing literary tour de force and an utterly invigorating reading experience. If this book does not make you jump up from the sofa, looking at life and literature in new ways, check to see if you have a pulse.” —USA Today
“An exquisitely written, kaleidoscopic work that anchors a floating postmodern world on pre-modern caissons of love, grief, and transcendent longing.” —Los Angeles Times
“Cunningham has created something original, a trio of richly interwoven tales...his most mature and masterful work.” —The Washington Post Book World
Conversation Starters from ReadingGroupChoices.com
- Clarissa Vaughan is described as an ordinary woman. Do you accept this valuation? If so, what does it imply about being ordinary? What makes someone, by contrast, extraordinary?
- What does the novel imply about the fine line between sanity and insanity? Would you classify Richard as insane? How does his mental state compare with that of Virginia? Of Laura as a young wife?
- Each of the novel’s three principal women occasionally feels a sense of detachment, of playing a role. Is role-playing an essential part of living in the world, and of behaving sanely?
- What does this book tell us about the creative process? How does each character revise and improve his or her creation during the course of the story?
- Which characters keep their inner selves ruthlessly separate from their outer ones? Why?
- Each of the novel’s characters sees himself or herself, most of the time, as a failure. Are such feelings an essential and inevitable part of the human condition?
- What does the novel and its characters have to say about the transition from youth to middle-age? Should such passages be resisted or embraced?
- Which of the characters loves the idea of death, as others love life? What makes some decide to die, others to live?
- If you have read Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway, would you describe The Hours as a modern version of it? A commentary upon it? A dialogue with it? Which characters in The Hours correspond with those of Woolf’s novel?