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Publisher's Summary

Winner of the Gold Award for Best Drama in the New York Festivals Radio Awards 2018.

A BBC radio adaptation of the Pulitzer Prize-winning book by Michael Cunningham, inspired by Virginia Woolf's Mrs Dalloway.

Three separate women, living in different locations and eras, are linked by their passion for Virginia Woolf's novel Mrs Dalloway. As they each live through a Tuesday in June, their thoughts and experiences mirror each other and become interwoven.

In Richmond in 1923, Virginia Woolf struggles to write a novel whose protagonist is Mrs Dalloway. In Los Angeles in 1949, Laura ignores her chores and small son to sit in bed reading Mrs Dalloway. In 1990s New York, Clarissa goes to buy flowers for a party, mirroring the start of the fictional Mrs Dalloway’s day. The party is in honour of her sick friend Richard, who long ago dubbed her Mrs Dalloway.

As their stories intertwine, they converge to become one, weaving together themes of story-telling, domestic tension, friendship, love, loss, parental guilt, loneliness, bisexuality and the challenges of hosting social rituals.

Adapted by Sony Award-winning dramatist Frances Byrnes, this affecting dramatisation stars Fenella Woolgar as Virginia Woolf, Teresa Gallagher as Laura and Rosamund Pike as Clarissa.

Directed by Judith Kampfner and Polly Thomas.
Produced by Judith Kampfner.
A Corporation For Independent Media production for BBC Radio 4.

©2013 BBC Worldwide Ltd (P)2018 BBC Worldwide Ltd

Critic Reviews

"I am so thrilled by the BBC's production of my novel, The Hours, and - believe me - a novelist does not thrill easily." (Michael Cunningham)

What listeners say about The Hours

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  • Johannah Timbreblue
  • 21-06-19

An enjoyable ABRIDGED version

Audio, 1 hr 52 mins
BBC Radio full cast dramatisation

This is one of my favorite books. I was delighted when it was adapted for the screen, and enjoyed the multi-award-winning 2002 movie starring Nicole Kidman, Julianne Moore, and Meryl Streep. The film received an Academy Award (Best Actress, Kidman), two Golden Globe Awards (Best Picture and Best Actress, Kidman), two BAFTA Awards (Best Film Music and Best Actress, Kidman), and many more accolades. So I had high expectations for this full-cast recording.

This BBC Radio version is an enjoyable listen with a talented voice cast, particularly Rosamund Pike as Clarissa. The distinctions between voices and shifts between timelines are easy to follow. I do recommend this title, and it is a thoughtful drama about three women in three very different times, linked by a beautiful book (MRS DALLOWAY by Virginia Woolf).


Audible has this labeled "Unabridged" and it is SO very abridged that much of the dialogue does not appear in Mr Cunningham's Pulitzer Prize-winning book.


The audio begins with a breathy, musing Virginia: "Hmm. Mrs. Dalloway. Mrs Dalloway. Clarissa Dalloway. What does she say? Something. What? Hmm. I might start there. Mrs Dalloway, going on an errand, in June. I might start there. Mrs. Dalloway, going on an errand, on a day in June.
Instead of the soldiers marching off to lay the wreath in Whitehall. Is it the right beginning? Is it too ordinary? Mrs. Dalloway said … something. Yes. Hmm."

However, Mr. Cunnigham's text begins: "Prologue. She hurries from the house, wearing a coat too heavy for the weather. It is 1941. Another war has begun. She has left a note for Leonard, and another for Vanessa."

For the relevant section of the book (Virginia's musing about how to begin her book), one must turn to page 29 where the text reads: "Mrs. Dalloway said something (what?), and got the flowers herself. It is a suburb of London. It is 1923. Virginia awakens. This might be another way to begin, certainly; with Clarissa going on an errand on a day in June, instead of soldiers marching off to lay the wreath in Whitehall. But is it the right beginning? Is it a little too ordinary? Virginia lies quietly in her bed, and sleep takes her again so quickly she is not conscious of falling back to sleep at all."
(Page 29, Picador Modern Classics edition, Kindle)

This radio version is an excellent way to become acquainted with the story, but it is absolutely not an "Unabridged" recording. This version loses so much of the cerebral nature of the book that it could at best be called an adaptation, and I would go so far as to call it "inspired by" the modern-classic novel THE HOURS. If you enjoy this story, read the book!

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Ahsoso
  • 18-11-19

Disappointing, confusing and not what I expected.

Found it hard to follow who was speaking to what character and why they were.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Anonymous User
  • 23-11-18

Highly Recommend

A very deep story and brilliant narration that really brings the story to life. One small problem being that one might have trouble distinguishing characters by their voice at the start, so it could be helpful to look up a list of major characters. However the story gets really deep as it progresses and the narration is absolutely brilliant.