Michael Cunningham is allegedly 'one of our best new writers'. But this book was also allegedly supposed to have a 'surprising' twist at the end, so I don't put too much stock in the introduction.
The Hours of the title refer to the long and agonizing hours of the day which all the characters in this book have to get through. Three stories are intertwined; Virginia Woolf starts off by killing herself, then we jump back 15 years and she's having a bad day. Housewife Laura Brown is having a bad day in 1949 while making a birthday cake. And modern-day Clarissa is buying flowers for her crazy poet friend.
Cunningham makes one feel guilty for not being aware, like his characters, of how unbearable life is. The writing is delicate and beautiful, but it's not enough to drag this depressing muddle out of the muck. A high concept novel; wasn't worth my time.
Another complaint: I listened to an audio version narrated by Alexander Adams. I don't know WHAT they were thinking giving this to a man to read. All the POV characters are female! And Adam's style is much too forceful.