Lives of Girls and Women (Penguin Modern Classics) Paperback – Jun 28 2005
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Lives of Girls and Women is nearly always recommended as an ideal introduction to Alice Munro. Everyone who preaches this doctrine knows that it is doing Munro a bit of a disservice: Lives of Girls and Women is her only novel, and it is certainly not her best work. Nonetheless, it is a seductive book, one that consistently turns dabblers into Munro devotees.
Munro follows the late childhood and adolescence of Del Jordan, an intelligent girl growing up in Jubilee, Ontario (one of the most palpable fictional towns in all of Canadian fiction) in the 1940s. Del is ordinary enough--she doesn't fit into her community, but this is the lot of any gifted child in a small, working-class town. Her father raises silver foxes for a living, her mother (a tentative feminist living in a decidedly traditionalist community) drives the back roads trying to sell encyclopedias to farmers. Del's passage through the usual travails of growing up (family deaths, lost friends, the awkward beginnings of sexuality) is rendered with extraordinary skill. It is easy to find compassionate writers, but the Munro of Lives of Girls and Women is a much more valuable find: a writer blessed with empathy, humour, and even cruelty. She can lovingly eviscerate her characters when it is necessary, yet never slips into the lazy shorthand of caricature. Some of her short story collections are better made (Open Secrets and Who Do You Think You Are?, for example), but the scope of Lives of Girls and Women makes it one of Munro's most memorable books. --Jack Illingworth --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
"...Munro brilliantly captures the initial tremors of this profound social transition." - Toronto StarSee all Product Description
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Munro is a master of characterization and narrative structure. Del's description of her mother, for example, reveals: (1) Del's feeling of discomfort at her own place within Jubilee's hierarchy and environment; Del wants to fit in, and her mother embodies the eccentric within her own self. (2) Del's mother's strengths, pulling herself from abject poverty, putting herself through school, starting her own business in conservative postwar rural Canada - this woman evokes our admiration, despite the disgust of our narrator. It's these multidimensional portraits that makes Munro so great - yes, a character (Del's mother) can earn our admiration, disgust, and pity all at once...
Then in the building of conflict, Munro ALWAYS surprises us. Every scene is fresh, new, interesting, every culmination of conflict resolves in ways we would never expect. Take the time when Del was being molested by her mother's boarder's boyfriend. One day she goes off with him in his car out to the country, and we're expecting some "Bastard Out of Carolina" child-raping exploitation and subsequent weepy victim hood. But Munro makes a left at the light, has the man simply masturbate in front of the child, who for her part is excited, charmed, and repelled by the sight and is grateful to be introduced to the mystery of the penis.
And lastly, Munro refuses to depict her women in the same, old tired way.Read more ›
The combination of books I read for the month of November, and consequently during NaNoWriMo was maybe not the best combination of choices. Each one was heavy and laden with dense material the require digesting, which is why it's taken me so long to write reviews lately.
On the other hand, it's led my brain to go a few places it wouldn't have normally. It helped me think a little bit more about how I'd like 2014 to go compared to 2013.
That can be a good thing right???
I like to let people wonder, and I like to watch, and observe. This is how I read Munro's book, as an observer, and someone listening to the stories and thoughts of others. These are qualities I put to work for me in my working life as well. It's a little like reading the book Gripped by Jason Donnelly, but without the cat or the sock. You can read my review of that book here, or better yet, just go read that book.
Lives of Girls and women was like listening to a story my Grandma would have told. It was like being transported back to her time on the prairies in the 1930's. This was situated slightly later, and in north-western Ontario, but the feelings, sentiments and Canadiana that appeared throughout the book made me feel like I was a kid again, waiting for Grandma's bedtime stories.
It's a group of short stories, and yes, they all feature some of the same characters. They happen to be arranged in chronological order in the book, and each story focuses on a theme.
Why isn't it a novel then?Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
This book ended up surprising me. It was rather interesting.Published 19 months ago by Kaylee Verkruisen
Alice Munro is just great. You must read her. Her stories get to the very heart of the lives she knows.Published 19 months ago by Dr. Don Whyte
It's interesting enough that I stayed with it, but not so much that I motored through it in a few hours like with others. Read morePublished 20 months ago by Kristen B
Alice Munro received the Nobel Prize for literature. She then became a "must read".
Sadly, however beautifully written, I found this book to,be very dull. Read more
The content of the book is excellent, Alice Munro is a great writer. The cover of the book was in worse shape then stated which is unfortunate because it was a gift.Published on Jan. 1 2014 by Vicky Millner
This is a wonderful book, rich as a banquet, as finely worked as an intricate embroidery, the kind of book I love to read and the kind I aspire to write. Read morePublished on July 22 2013 by Allie
Typical anti-male diatribe disguised as a work of literature. This was assigned reading for one of my college literature courses over twenty years ago, and the memory of the... Read morePublished on July 14 2004
Maybe it was because this book was assigned to me to read by a college professor. Or maybe it was becasue I like more of an intreging story. I hated reading this book. Read morePublished on May 2 2002 by Richard K. Stewart III