The Hours, by Michael Cunningham, is a fabulous reading experience which leaves me curious to explore both the movie the book was based upon and the novel that glues all three female characters together: Mrs Dalloway. Oh, I know and I sincerely apologise, I should have read Mrs Woolf’s masterpiece a long time ago, but I didn’t.
Reading a novel like this, is like giving yourself a tasteful, overwhelming treat, both sweet and sour. Taste the beautiful sentences and observations with care and attention. Don’t gorge on them. It is a thin book, with only about 200 pages, but I took the time to read it. It was hard to keep my mind on the plot, because I was constantly distracted by its eloquent language and structure.
On another level it also had me thinking about my own life and the way in which I sometimes feel I fail at playing my various roles. I compare myself to other wives, mothers, writers, entrepreneurs or women in general and wonder if and why I am playing my roles wrong, or at least less perfect than others. Also, I always assumed that this uncertainty is confined to the female part of the world, so how is it possible that a man can write so vividly about these feelings?
The way in which Virginia Woolf’s agony is described is terrifying. Madness is just around the corner and it scares the shit out of me. (I will never forget the huge impact the short story “The yellow wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkings Gillman had on me when I was reading the feminist classics.) It can happen to anyone, anywhere and you are never safe.
The devil sucks all the beauty from the world, all the hope, and what remains when the devil has finished is a realm of the living dead – joyless, suffocating… (p. 167)
That image rings a bell. Am I the only to think about Dementors?
The next quote explains why the book is called The Hours:
But there are still the hours, aren’t there? One and then another, and you get through that one and then, my god, there’s another. (p. 198)
How much more hopeless can you get?
To conclude. A beautiful novel? Yes. An intelligent one? Very much so. But light reading? No, not really. But who needs light reading when we have television?