Friday, June 17, 2005

Haunted by "The Hours"

Maggie says:
I just finished "The Hours," a book I meant to read in 1998, when it was published and first recommended to me, and then definitely meant to read in 2002, when the movie came out. But for whatever reason I just now got around to it, and I didn't even really read it, not the way I just read "Bel Canto" or "The Legend of Max Tivoli." Nope, I devoured "The Hours." I can't say enough about this novel.

Sometimes I feel that books are waiting for us to find them when the time is right. This was my time to read "The Hours," my time to be absolutely haunted by Mrs. Brown. The funny thing is, I didn't love the movie. I felt it was more a movie to respect and appreciate than love. I saw it once and never really thought about it again. But now I can't wait to give it another try. And the other thing that strikes me after reading this: I enjoy reading Michael Cunningham write about Virginia Woolf writing her novels more than I do actually reading Virginia Woolf's novels. Is that lame of me? I didn't even like Woolf's "Mrs. Dalloway." And now in this novel I adore, Virginia Woolf's novel that didn't touch me in the least is a central character in this book, what ties the story lines together, and I see it in a new light.

Two passages from "The Hours" that I can't stop thinking about, ones that just sear through my head:
- "Maybe there is nothing, ever, that can equal the recollection of having been young together."
- "There's just this for consolation: an hour here or there when our lives seem, against all odds and expectations, to burst open and give us everything we've ever imagined."

What an achievement to write this: a book about hopelessness, about trying to be who you're "supposed to be," about the gap between that person and who you really are. I think each of us is every woman in this book: a little bit Mrs. Dalloway, a little bit Mrs. Brown, and a little bit Virginia Woolf herself. I know that I sure am.


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