#BookADayUK 14: An old favourite

Since I already mentioned The Great Gatsby in a previous installment, today’s #BookADayUK prompt from The Borough Press makes me think of a more recent favourite novel.

When my friend Todd recommended this book to me, he said, “Call me as soon as you get to the end, because you will be screaming.” Yes, it was a bit of a “twist” novel, but unlike an M. Night Shyamalan film, the twist at the end of this novel was much more satisfying. And Todd was right: as soon as I got to the end of Michael Cunningham’s Pulitzer Prize-winning book The Hours, I called him and said, “Aaaaaah! I can’t believe it!”

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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. (From Goodreads)

I read this novel before I ever took a stab at Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf. I failed on my first attempt with the classic to which Cunningham’s novel pays homage, but on my second read, I realized what my error had been: Mrs. Dalloway works best if it’s read in one sitting. It’s a short enough novel that this is possible, and indeed, it works best as a means of immersing yourself in Clarissa Dalloway’s day. As Nicole Kidman’s Woolf says in the film: “A woman’s whole life in a single day. Just one day. And in that day her whole life.”

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