In these eight tales, Munro evokes the devastating power of old love suddenly recollected. She tells of vanished schoolgirls and indentured frontier brides and an eccentric recluse who, in the course of one surpassingly odd dinner party, inadvertently lands herself a wealthy suitor from exotic Australia. And Munro shows us how one woman's romantic tale of capture and escape in the high Balkans may end up inspiring another woman who is fleeing a husband and lover in present-day Canada.
Alice Munro has long been heralded for her penetrating, lyrical prose, and in “The Bear Came Over the Mountain”—the basis for Sarah Polley’s film —her prodigious talents are once again on display.
As she follows Grant, a retired professor whose wife Fiona begins gradually to lose her memory and drift away from him, we slowly see how a lifetime of intimate details can create a marriage, and how mysterious the bonds of love really are.
In her lengthy and fascinating introduction Margaret Atwood says “Alice Munro is among the major writers of English fiction of our time…. Among writers themselves, her name is spoken in hushed tones.”
This splendid gift edition is sure to delight Alice Munro’s growing body of admirers, what Atwood calls her “devoted international readership.” Long-time fans of her stories will enjoy meeting old favourites, where their new setting in this book may reveal new sides to what once seemed a familiar story; devoted followers may even dispute the exclusion of a specially-beloved story. Readers lucky enough to have found her recently will be delighted, as one masterpiece succeeds another.
The 17 stories are carefully arranged in the order in which she wrote them, which allows us to follow the development of her range. “A Wilderness Station,” for example, breaks “short story rules” by taking us right back to the 1830s then jumping forward more than 100 years. “The Albanian Virgin” destroys the idea that her stories are set in B.C. or in Ontario’s “Alice Munro Country.” And “The Bear Came Over the Mountain,” the story behind the film , takes us far from the world of young girls learning about sex into unflinching old age.
This is a book to read slowly, savouring each story. It deserves a place in every Canadian book-lover’s library.
Alice Munro's territory is the farms and semi-rural towns of south-western Ontario. In these dazzling stories she deals with the self-discovery of adolescence, the joys and pains of love and the despair and guilt of those caught in a narrow existence. And in sensitively exploring the lives of ordinary men and women, she makes us aware of the universal nature of their fears, sorrows and aspirations.
In story after story in this brilliant new collection, Alice Munro pinpoints the moment a person is forever altered by a chance encounter, an action not taken, or a simple twist of fate. Her characters are flawed and fully human: a soldier returning from war and avoiding his fiancée, a wealthy woman deciding whether to confront a blackmailer, an adulterous mother and her neglected children, a guilt-ridden father, a young teacher jilted by her employer. Illumined by Munro’s unflinching insight, these lives draw us in with their quiet depth and surprise us with unexpected turns. And while most are set in her signature territory around Lake Huron, some strike even closer to home: an astonishing suite of four autobiographical tales offers an unprecedented glimpse into Munro’s own childhood. Exalted by her clarity of vision and her unparalleled gift for storytelling, Dear Life shows how strange, perilous, and extraordinary ordinary life can be.
Amazon Best Books of the Month, November 2009: "She hated to hear the word 'escape' used about fiction. She might have argued, not just playfully, that it was real life that was the escape. But this was too important to argue about." Taken from a story called "Free Radicals," this line may be the best way to think about the lives unfolding in Alice Munro's Too Much Happiness. Real life assaults her central characters rather brutally-in the forms of murder and madness, death, divorce, and all manner of deceptions-but they respond with a poise and clarity of thought that's disarming-sometimes, even nonchalant-when you consider their circumstances. Her women move through life, wearing their scars but not so much wearied by them, profoundly intelligent, but also inordinately tender and thoughtful. There's more fact than fiction to these stories, rich in quiet, precise details that make for a beautiful, bewildering read.
A powerful new collection from one of our most beloved, admired, and honored writers.
In stories that are more personal than any that she's written before, Alice Munro pieces her family's history into gloriously imagined fiction. A young boy is taken to Edinburgh's Castle Rock, where his father assures him that on a clear day he can see America, and he catches a glimpse of his father's dream. In stories that follow, as the dream becomes a reality, two sisters-in-law experience very different kinds of passion on the long voyage to the New World; a baby is lost and magically reappears on a journey from an Illinois homestead to the Canadian border.
Other stories take place in more familiar Munro territory, the towns and countryside around Lake Huron, where the past shows through the present like the traces of a glacier on the landscape and strong emotions stir just beneath the surface of ordinary comings and goings. First love flowers under the apple tree, while a stronger emotion presents itself in the barn. A girl hired as summer help, and uneasy about her “place” in the fancy resort world she's come to, is transformed by her employer's perceptive parting gift. A father whose early expectations of success at fox farming have been dashed finds strange comfort in a routine night job at an iron foundry. A clever girl escapes to college and marriage.
The award-winning Canadian writer Alice Munro's collection Hateship, friendship, courtship, loveship, marriage is about the lives, hopes, dreams and ends of women: their marriages, their relationships with those who touch their lives in some momentous way-however brief or long-standing-and the extraordinary effects wrought by the hand of fate. She is not only a genius storyteller, she has a cunning ability to make you believe the short story you've just read was actually a full-length novel. So if you've ever thought twice about buying a book of short stories, then the marvellous Alice Munro will make you think again…
Munro's world is one of post-war Canada, when women are beginning to experience a constrained kind of freedom. In "What is Remembered", a chance meeting at a funeral has a profound, yet stabilising effect on Meriel, a young wife and mother. "Young husbands", writes Munro, "were stern in those days". Between learning how to kowtow to bosses and manage wives, there was so much else to learn: mortgages, lawns and politics for a start. The wives, meantime, were afforded the opportunity of "a second kind of adolescence"-but only in the confines of the family home, while the men were absent, and only after wifely jobs were accounted for. In the book's title story, a capable, spinsterly housekeeper finds love in the most unexpected place, in the most unexpected way. However the opportunity presents itself, it is what you choose to make of it that really matters, the author seems to be saying. Johanna could be deeply disappointed with her "opportunity" but, in her straightforward way, amends a few details and makes the most of it.
Alice Munro's stories are retrospective; tales of lives lived, for better or worse. If you want something, take it, quickly. You only get one life, and this is it.