The Hours

  • by Michael Cunningham
  • Narrated by Michael Cunningham
  • 6 hrs and 19 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Pulitzer Prize, Fiction, 1999
The Hours is the story of three women: Clarissa Vaughan, a beloved friend of ailing poet Richard Brown, who one fine New York morning goes about planning a party in his honor; Laura Brown, who in a 1950's Los Angeles suburb slowly begins to feel the constraints of a perfect family and home; and Virginia Woolf, recuperating with her husband in a London suburb, and beginning to write Mrs. Dalloway. By the end of the novel, the stories intertwine in remarkable ways, and finally come together in an act of subtle and haunting grace.

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What the Critics Say

Book Sense Book of the Year Award Finalist, Adult Fiction, 2001
"An exquisitely written, kaleidoscopic work that anchors a floating postmodern world on pre-modern caissons of love, grief and transcendent longing. (Los Angeles Times Book Review)
"A delicate, triumphant glance...A place of late-century danger but also of treasurable hours." (The New York Times Book Review )

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Very literary, intentionally slight plot

Compared to many best-sellers, this book actually displays literary prowess by its author. Although he veers into over-writing at times (not unusual for a newer, over-enthusiastic novelist), author Michael Cunningham clearly has a way with the English language. Even better, he is very skilled at created fully realized characters (a *very* refreshing change from most best-selling fiction). All this said, The Hours is still somewhat difficult to recommend. Most audiobook listeners prefer a strong plot or at least some sort of clear linear thread to pull them through long hours of commuting. If you are such a listener, then this book is definitely not for you. The plot is the least important element of this book and as such, is very slight. Instead, what you get is mostly the inner thoughts of three very fascinating women in very different circumstances. Expect to hear extended interior contemplations of things as mundane as buying flowers and baking a cake. This doesn't exactly make for the most "exciting" listening. But if you enjoy skillfully constructed prose and don't mind a book where very little happens (at least in plot terms), then you'll be in for a treat. Incidentally, if you've seen the film adaptation of this novel, don't expect the huge emotional outbursts that the filmmakers felt so compelled to insert. Most of this book is about internal thought processes, not external displays of raw emotion. Additionally, familiarity with Virginia Woolf's "Mrs. Dalloway" is helpful (though not required) for enjoying some of the nuances of this novel. Finally, please note that the author serves as the reader of this audiobook. He's not the typical professional voice-over artist that we usually expect to hear from audiobooks. As such, his voice is a little unusual, but not necessarily unpleasant. I recommend clicking on the "Hear Sample" link to be sure you won't mind spending over six hours with his voice.
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- Steve

Unlistenable

I still plan to read this book in written format because I've heard so many wonderful things about it. And I have listened to some author-read books that I enjoyed very much (most recently The Kite Runner, which was exquisitely read). Unfortunately, Cunningham insists on reading this book as if it is a poem with pauses and emphases in strange places. I soldiered on for an hour and a half and then couldn't take it any more. It seems like empty affectation and distracts from the content. What a terrible disappointment and waste.
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- Lisa

Book Details

  • Release Date: 09-05-2003
  • Publisher: Macmillan Audio