‘The Hours’: Michael Cunningham
The Hours was published in 1998 and won the Pulitzer Prize the following year. It’s about three women in different time periods in the twentieth century, and is a tribute to writer Virginia Woolf, who committed suicide in 1941.
The Hours describes a day in the life of each character in intense detail. One of the women is Virginia Woolf when she is working on her novel, Mrs. Dalloway.
Nieboer: ‘This book made me realise that everyone’s lives, no matter who they are or when they lived, are really interesting. And it touches upon the idea that you don’t know how happy you are until you lose something.’
‘In ten or twenty years you might look back on your student years and think about how great your life was, how much you enjoyed learning, the friendships you had, even though right now you might be having the blues. You don’t realise how beautiful a single day can be until you read about it in such detail. It made me realise we should really live in the here and now.’
Some people are just trying to get through the day, thinking there’s always something better beyond the horizon. ‘But this book taught me to count my blessings and focus on the things I do have.’ The book is about friendship, love, and literature; if you ask Nieboer, that’s all that matters. And the book’s finale is brilliant, she says.
‘If I had to identify with one particular character, it would be Clarissa Vaughn’, says Nieboer. ‘She’s a publisher who lives in Greenwich Village. She’s buying flowers and throwing her friend a party. I see something of myself in that; throwing a party with such joy.’
If you’re not interested in the book, at least watch the film, Nieboer says. It won a Golden Globe and has a great cast: Meryl Streep, Julianne Moore, and Nicole Kidman.