Embraced by neighbourhood book groups and avant-garde collectives alike, Alice Munro is one of the world's masters of the short story. But the astounding consistency of her imagination makes it difficult to pick out one book that rises above the rest. You could hardly be faulted for choosing her wonderful Selected Stories
, but even more compelling is the Giller Prize-winning collection that followed, The Love of a Good Woman
. In it, Munro returns once again to her familiar locations (rural Ontario and the coast of British Columbia) and to her most enduring question (why we love the people we do), but she pushes her craft even further than she has before, from the complex, four-part dance of the title story to the frightening "Save the Reaper" and the masterfully constructed finale, "My Mother's Dream." Alice Munro is Canada's most essential writer, and The Love of a Good Woman
is her most essential book.
From Publishers Weekly
Again mining the silences and dark discretions of provincial Canadian life, Munro shines in her ninth collection, peopled with characters whose sin is the original one: to have eaten of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The good woman of the title story?a practical nurse who has already sacrificed her happiness to keep a deathbed promise?must choose whether to believe another moribund patient's confession or to ignore it and seize a second chance at the life she has missed. The drama of deathbed revelation is acted out, again, between a dying man and the woman at his bedside in "Cortes Island," when a stroke victim exposes his deepest secret to his part-time caretaker, in what may be the last act of intimacy left to him, and in the process puts his finger on the fault lines in her marriage. In the extraordinary "Before the Change," a young woman confronts her father with the open secret of his life and reveals the hidden facts of hers; she is unprepared, however, for the final irony of his legacy. The powerful closing story, "My Mother's Dream," is about a secret in the making, showing how a young mother almost kills her baby and how that near fatality, revealed at last to the daughter when she is 50, binds mother and daughter. Compressing the arc of a novella, Munro's long, spare stories?there are eight here? span decades and lay bare not only the strata of the solitary life but also the seamless connections and shared guilt that bind together even the loneliest of individuals. First serial to the New Yorker. (Nov.) FYI: Four of Munro's previous collections are available in Vintage paperback.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.
--This text refers to the