website statistics Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage: Stories - PDF Books Online
Hot Best Seller

Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage: Stories

Availability: Ready to download

In the her tenth collection (the title story of which is the basis for the new film Hateship Loveship), Alice Munro achieves new heights, creating narratives that loop and swerve like memory, and conjuring up characters as thorny and contradictory as people we know ourselves. A tough-minded housekeeper jettisons the habits of a lifetime because of a teenager’s practical jok In the her tenth collection (the title story of which is the basis for the new film Hateship Loveship), Alice Munro achieves new heights, creating narratives that loop and swerve like memory, and conjuring up characters as thorny and contradictory as people we know ourselves. A tough-minded housekeeper jettisons the habits of a lifetime because of a teenager’s practical joke. A college student visiting her brassy, unconventional aunt stumbles on an astonishing secret and its meaning in her own life. An incorrigible philanderer responds with unexpected grace to his wife’s nursing-home romance. Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage is Munro at her best, tirelessly observant, serenely free of illusion, deeply and gloriously humane.


Compare

In the her tenth collection (the title story of which is the basis for the new film Hateship Loveship), Alice Munro achieves new heights, creating narratives that loop and swerve like memory, and conjuring up characters as thorny and contradictory as people we know ourselves. A tough-minded housekeeper jettisons the habits of a lifetime because of a teenager’s practical jok In the her tenth collection (the title story of which is the basis for the new film Hateship Loveship), Alice Munro achieves new heights, creating narratives that loop and swerve like memory, and conjuring up characters as thorny and contradictory as people we know ourselves. A tough-minded housekeeper jettisons the habits of a lifetime because of a teenager’s practical joke. A college student visiting her brassy, unconventional aunt stumbles on an astonishing secret and its meaning in her own life. An incorrigible philanderer responds with unexpected grace to his wife’s nursing-home romance. Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage is Munro at her best, tirelessly observant, serenely free of illusion, deeply and gloriously humane.

30 review for Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage: Stories

  1. 4 out of 5

    Fergus

    A COLLECTION OF PARADIGM SHIFTS INTO OTHER FOLKS’ PRIVATE HEADSPACE! When this diminutive little lady from small-town Ontario, Canada won the Nobel Prize for Literature she remarked: "I want my stories to move people. “I don't care if they're women, men or children... “I want my stories to be something about life that makes people say - not 'oh, isn't that the truth' - but to feel some kind of reward from the writing. “And that doesn't mean it has to be a happy ending or anything, but just that eve A COLLECTION OF PARADIGM SHIFTS INTO OTHER FOLKS’ PRIVATE HEADSPACE! When this diminutive little lady from small-town Ontario, Canada won the Nobel Prize for Literature she remarked: "I want my stories to move people. “I don't care if they're women, men or children... “I want my stories to be something about life that makes people say - not 'oh, isn't that the truth' - but to feel some kind of reward from the writing. “And that doesn't mean it has to be a happy ending or anything, but just that everything the story tells moves the reader in such a way that you feel you are a different person when you finish it." Want to get out of your skin for a few hours? Alice Munro will take you there! And you’ll find out for yourself how Lucky you Really ARE to be Yourself. For Alice Munro takes the Fools’ Bells off from other folks heads for us examine... You know, the truly Modern Fools’ Bells that folks wear are the heavy Balls and Chains of marital and extramarital mélanges and their resultant Fatal Aporias. The most ingenious traps we lay in Life are those we, ourselves, fall into! Too far gone beyond the magical voice of the “Woodthrush calling through the Fog”, which we all-too-knowingly call the worn-out song of “Ole Time Religion”, and the rather faded, trite old Song of Innocence. So, like that famous fictional character Christian, we are perpetually swamped up to our eyelids in the same old dreary Slough of Despond! Back in 1984, when I was a recently-promoted management trainee, I had a supervisor (and beloved mentor!) named Jim. Jim was 6 or 7 years older than I was, but nevertheless retained a preppy-style crewcut and a boyish grin. He was a gee-whiz, can-do type guy with a boundless enthusiasm for cutting-edge management development techniques. And they worked for me! 10 years later, boyish enthusiasm intact, he gave our officers a crash course on the latest buzz on thinking outside of the box: developing a flexible readiness for Paradigm Shifts. And that’s exactly what Alice Munro gives us: Paradigm shifts. You know, if you’re trapped in the Slough, all the new paradigm shifts in management theory go right over your head as just so much bunk. So you get tired and let the Smart Young Bucks outrun you. Sound familiar? But not so the ever-Young Ms Munro! One moment we’re working through her intricate constructions of another person’s life and character - and by the end of that story, we’re right inside that character’s headspace. How come we never even KNEW how drastically different we are from each other? And how come we all STILL make like we’re all playing from the same sheet of dreary music? Alice Munro shows us how EACH of us is actually trying to keep an unruly symphony orchestra playing together in our heads from a secret centre, performing the music that is US, in our separation from OTHERS. And WHY are we separate from others? Because we don’t see that our false notes -the orchestra’s blunders - are actually our OWN. Her eye is so sharp and her hearing is so acute I cannot think of any other way of explaining the essence of the miracle she performs. You see, we are not now - nor have we ever been - ironclad, bulletproof personalities! When our orchestra goofs, we goof. And Munro shows us how we all ALWAYS goof. It’s embarrassing. It’s discomfiting. These are not especially unpleasant stories, nor are all exclusively pleasant. BUT THEY’RE ALL OUTSIDE THE BOX. And they ALL make us feel ILL AT EASE. They’re US. They’re meticulously crafted stories about individuals who are SOCIALLY IMPERFECT, in their own little ways, and you’ll have BECOME them for a few moments by the time you finish them. And wow - they really do expand your mind. Just read this remarkable collection and you’ll see for yourself! And you’ll see yourself anew - as a NEW AND FALLIBLE HUMAN BEING. Finally.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Adina

    It seems I am on a binge with short stories and I am enjoying myself a lot more than I expected. I’ve had Alice Munro on my TBR for a while but since I was not incline towards stories I postponed reading her for years. Now that I had, I can confirm she is a true master of the genre. Why? Each story felt to me as a fully formed world. The characters are well developed, the plot is interesting and immersing even though it shows pieces of normal life. I read novels who made me feel less involved in It seems I am on a binge with short stories and I am enjoying myself a lot more than I expected. I’ve had Alice Munro on my TBR for a while but since I was not incline towards stories I postponed reading her for years. Now that I had, I can confirm she is a true master of the genre. Why? Each story felt to me as a fully formed world. The characters are well developed, the plot is interesting and immersing even though it shows pieces of normal life. I read novels who made me feel less involved in the tale than any of Munro’s stories. I cared about each story, which is such a hard feat to attain. Those stories are alive, yes, I think this is the right word.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Julie G

    My reaction to almost every movie I watch is to announce loudly to the room after finishing it, “WELL, I'LL NEVER GET THOSE TWO HOURS OF MY LIFE BACK.” I get peevish and resentful after sitting through bad movies, and I usually need to read a new book or watch Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy emerging from the lake in his wet, white shirt before I can shake other bad movie images from my mind. So, imagine my surprise when I stumbled upon Hateship, Loveship with Kristen Wiig, and I not only liked it, I kin My reaction to almost every movie I watch is to announce loudly to the room after finishing it, “WELL, I'LL NEVER GET THOSE TWO HOURS OF MY LIFE BACK.” I get peevish and resentful after sitting through bad movies, and I usually need to read a new book or watch Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy emerging from the lake in his wet, white shirt before I can shake other bad movie images from my mind. So, imagine my surprise when I stumbled upon Hateship, Loveship with Kristen Wiig, and I not only liked it, I kinda loved it. Like, I loved it so much, I watched it twice in one week. Wha?? (And, how is this a book review, you might be ready to ask?) Okay, I'm getting there. So, I loved Hateship, Loveship SO much, I did a little homework and found out that it was based on a short story by Canadian writer, Alice Munro. A short story of only 54 pages was the inspiration for that break-my-heart-I-surprisingly-love-this film. And, even though I think it's the best story of this collection, the book includes nine. Nine stories total. . . and what do they have in common? Well, as the doctor in the ninth story declares, “We don't know, do we? Till we see the pattern of the deterioration, we really can't say.” Yes, patterns of deterioration. . . of marriages, of health, of mental and physical stability, of lives. . . and each of the nine stories features a prominent female protagonist who is typically a part of a childless couple. Yet, for the men reading this review. . . please don't be hasty in dismissing this as “Feminist Lit.” Women are the featured leads, so to speak, but we come to know their men, too. And unless isolation, loneliness, and fears of death and diminished health have suddenly become exclusive to women, I think the universal quality of these issues would pull in any readers. But it's not fluff. And it's not entertainment. This is a sturdy collection of serious “thinks” and big “feels.” Looks like Ms. Munro's been paying some close attention to people.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Glenn Sumi

    A lifetime of reading Alice Munro I feel like I’ve grown up with Alice Munro. I studied some of her short stories as a student (high school and college); I took a senior seminar in her work at university – long before she won the Nobel Prize for Literature; I’ve seen her read several times (my favourite was when she read the masterpiece “Differently” in its entirety.) And I continue to read and reread her work. Some of her stories are so familiar I can recite whole passages by heart. (Nerd confess A lifetime of reading Alice Munro I feel like I’ve grown up with Alice Munro. I studied some of her short stories as a student (high school and college); I took a senior seminar in her work at university – long before she won the Nobel Prize for Literature; I’ve seen her read several times (my favourite was when she read the masterpiece “Differently” in its entirety.) And I continue to read and reread her work. Some of her stories are so familiar I can recite whole passages by heart. (Nerd confession: I once played a game with a friend where he read passages from Munro and I had to identify the story.) My favourite Munro is mid-period, from Who Do You Think You Are? (called The Beggar Maid in the U.S. and UK), published in 1978, through Friend Of My Youth (1990). After that, I felt her stories got a little too complex, too compressed. They’re still brilliant, each as full of life and incident as novels, but many of them don’t have the directness and emotional impact of the early-middle work. This collection is from a decade later, in 2001, and it’s very fine. If you know Munro’s work, there are echoes from earlier stories. There’s the uncouth, loud country relation visiting the narrator who’s risen in social stature (“Post And Beam”); there’s a childhood prank that ends up affecting people’s destinies (“Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage”); there are young people who have a chaste connection who meet up again in later life (“Nettles”); there’s the memory of a brief sexual liaison that helps sustain a character through the rest of her life (“What Is Remembered”); and there’s the bright young narrator, an aspiring writer, who rejects a substitute maternal figure/working woman in her life (“Family Furnishings”). What I always love about Munro is just how deep she goes into human interaction. There’s a passage in “Floating Bridge,” a powerful story about a couple, one of whom has just been to see a physician about how her cancer has progressed. This passage has nothing really to do with the plot, such as it is, but it’s so true to life. When Neal was around other people, even one person other than Jinny, his behavior changed, becoming more animated, enthusiastic, ingratiating. Jinny was not bothered by that anymore – they had been together for twenty-one years. And she herself changed – as a reaction, she used to think – becoming more reserved and slightly ironic. Some masquerades were necessary, or just too habitual to be dropped. How true to life. Every word is necessary, even that “she used to think,” implying that she’s changed. The title story, the longest in the collection and one that spans decades, is a marvellous tale that keeps shifting perspectives. Imagine holding up a valuable jewel and seeing how the light catches it from different angles – that's sort of the effect. The first perspective is from a smug, small-town station agent: The station agent often tried a little teasing with women, especially the plain ones who seemed to appreciate it. Then later: She spoke to him in a loud voice as if he was deaf or stupid, and there was something wrong with the way she pronounced her words. An accent. He thought of Dutch – the Dutch were moving in around here – but she didn’t have the heft of the Dutch women or the nice pink skin or the fair hair. She might have been under forty, but what did it matter? No beauty queen, ever. Oh, my. Munro knows her people so well: their vanities, their prejudices, their secret desires. A few pages later, the same woman described above goes shopping for a dress she hopes will be her wedding outfit, and the shopkeeper (named "Milady") comes alive in a few brief, sharp strokes. If aliens ever wanted to learn about humans, all they’d have to do would be read Munro. The final story, “The Bear Came Over The Mountain,” was made into an Oscar-nominated film by Sarah Polley called Away From Her. It’s about a philandering husband whose wife, living with Alzheimer’s, can no longer remember him and strikes up a very close friendship with another man in the same facility. The economical way Munro sketches out the couple’s life, especially the husband’s affairs – he was a professor before being forced to retire – makes you understand everyone. (It’s very interesting to read in light of the #MeToo movement.) Flipping through this story again to write this review made me realize why I love Munro so much. She presents humanity with all its flaws intact. She sees people so clearly but she doesn’t judge them. They’re all just a part of the carnival of life. She forgives them. She forgives us. I’ve always felt that some of Munro’s book titles could be interchangeable. This book’s title – named after a game that kids, often girls, will play, a variation on the “He loves me/he loves me not” flower game – is expansive. But it could just as easily have been The Progress Of Love or The Love Of A Good Woman. This is an exquisite collection. Definitely “Loveship.”

  5. 5 out of 5

    Emily

    I sometimes get into conversations with people who have a hard time connecting with the short-story format; they say that they hardly have time to muster an emotional involvement in the characters and events, before the story is over. To those readers I might recommend Alice Munro. True, I have only experienced one of her collections, but the stories in Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage are nothing if not emotionally affecting—or "crushingly tragic," I suppose, if you want to g I sometimes get into conversations with people who have a hard time connecting with the short-story format; they say that they hardly have time to muster an emotional involvement in the characters and events, before the story is over. To those readers I might recommend Alice Munro. True, I have only experienced one of her collections, but the stories in Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage are nothing if not emotionally affecting—or "crushingly tragic," I suppose, if you want to get specific about the thing. Indeed, the understated yet unrelenting tragedy of small unkindnesses built up over decades and lifetimes; of the inevitable disappointments and compromises that result when people do their best and their best is not very good; of the human tendency to feel pride in one's flaws and shame in one's strengths: all this is the lifeblood of Munro's collection, and there's no denying that it's more bitter than sweet. At times, the bitterness becomes overpowering. At other times, Munro strikes a compelling balance between the deep sadness in all her characters (particularly her female characters) and the moments of true connection they manage to glean from the world around them, often at unexpected moments. Munro, it should be stressed, is a magnificent craftsman. One of the reasons these stories, at 20 or 30 pages, feel like whole super-condensed novels, is their author's extreme economy of language, her ability to establish whole histories with one or two well-chosen words, which often occur in a paragraph seemingly devoted to another task entirely. In the story "Post and Beam," for example, the graduate student Lionel contemplates the married life of his professor and the professor's wife, a couple he has come to socialize with on occasion: He came to see them in the evenings, when the children were in bed. The slight intrusions of domestic life—the cry of the baby reaching them through an open window, the scolding Brendan sometimes had to give Lorna about toys left lying on the grass, instead of being put back in the sandbox, the call from the kitchen asking if she had remembered to buy limes for the gin and tonic—all seemed to cause a shiver, a tightening of Lionel's tall, narrow body and intent, distrustful face. Not only do we get a portrait of a summer evening here, the ambient twilight stimuli as the adults have a drink together, but we also get Lionel's aversion to the everyday accouterments of married life (he comes after the children are in bed, shivers at Lorna and Brendan's everyday interactions). We also get a solid idea of the dynamic between Lorna and Brendan: their marriage follows traditional gender roles in that she is the one expected to take responsibility for cleaning up the children's toys and doing the shopping; if she slips up, Brendan not just allowed but obliged ("had to") to give her a scolding about it. That "had to" might indicate, since we are in his head at the moment, Lionel's point of view, his acceptance of the standard husband/wife hierarchy—although the rest of the story gives the impression that none of these characters would object to the phrase, even as the lack of equality and human understanding in her marriage is making Lorna actively unhappy. Even the addition of "remembered" ("the call from the kitchen asking if she had remembered to buy limes for the gin and tonic") adds to multiple aspects of the marital portrait. On the one hand, it speaks to the familiarity of husband and wife: probably everyone who has shared a household has yelled this type of question at one time or another. On the other hand, combined with Brendan's disconnection from his children and scolding of his wife, his phrasing adds to the picture of his domineering nature. This is not a man who goes to the store to buy limes himself, but tasks his wife with buying them, and then calls from the kitchen to ask if she remembered his request, rather than walking into the other room to ask her or (heaven forbid) looking for the limes himself. One can understand why Lionel might not be jumping on board with the whole marriage proposition, if Lorna and Brendan are his role models. And in fact, Brendan is largely representative of the male characters in Munro's book. If I have a complaint about the collection, it's this uniformity of male callousness: although we occasionally see a long-married couple who are genuinely caring toward one another (if mutually deeply flawed), or a pair of total strangers who manage to achieve a moment of unfettered connection, for the most part Munro's men are controlling, unfaithful jerks, taking the women around them for granted and generally acting like petulant toddlers. And I don't mean to suggest that Munro does not evoke this character type with great skill and sensitivity, because she absolutely does—and in fact, many of these male characters, in her hands, end up eliciting some degree of sympathy in the reader's mind: quite a feat considering their collective behavior. Munro's analysis of the gender roles in these stories acknowledges that the mainstream culture of the 1950s and 60s set up young men to be the assholes they sometimes turned out, just as those same decades socialized women to be submissive and self-denigrating, simultaneously responsible for raising children and reduced to a child-like state themselves. In the excellent story "What is Remembered," one of the highlights of the collection for me, the narrator writes: Young husbands were stern, in those days. Just a short time before, they had been suitors, almost figures of fun, knock-kneed and desperate in their sexual agonies. Now, bedded down, they turned resolute and disapproving. Off to work every morning, clean-shaven, youthful necks in knotted ties, days spent in unknown labors, home again at suppertime to take a critical glance at the evening meal and to shake out the newspaper, hold it up between themselves and the muddle of the kitchen, the ailments and emotions, the babies. What a lot they had to learn. How to kowtow to bosses and how to manage wives. So the men don't have a roadmap for how to live, any more than the women do. They, too, are working to conform to certain societal expectations. Yes. Even so, I've known a good number of men from this generation (or slightly older: my grandparents' generation), and most of them were not domineering, not unkind to their wives or dismissive of their wives' opinions. True, I didn't know them when they were young men. Munro's older characters are significantly gentler with each other than her younger ones, albeit sometimes oddly so. To some degree even the younger characters are not being unkind given their social context: they assume it's the simple truth that a husband's role is to dictate and a wife's is to obey. This is a systemic problem more than a fault of individuals. Still. Munro's bone of contention got a bit monotonous at times, as much as I agree with her insights. The sameness of male/female relationships in the collection dulled the impact of stories which, individually or in more varied company, would have all packed the same kind of punch as the first few did. In addition to said bones, though, this collection offers lots of meat. It will be rewarding to return to individual stories in the future, which I think will be a more palatable way of appreciating Munro than reading a collection of hers cover to cover. And there is plenty here to appreciate: the role of memory throughout these stories, for example, and how we mold our recollections to fill the functions we need them to, forgetting or imagining where it is convenient. Or how Munro so cleanly and expertly handles shifts in time, quietly moving the reader forward and backward in a given history with no unnecessary apparatus and hardly a hiccup in the narrative flow. It's not a Woolfian vision of simultaneity; while the characters often recollect their pasts, the past is not present to them as it is to Clarissa Dalloway or Peter Walsh—but the narrative engine is so weightless and nimble that it can position the reader neatly at any desired perspective point vis-à-vis the action, and whisk them to a different one with no fuss at all, with absolute clarity. (The opening paragraphs of "Family Furnishings" are excellent at this, and the titular story shows a similar character-based flexibility in its use of a roving limited third-person narrator.) Munro is not comfort reading, in other words, but in small doses I will definitely be returning to her hard, occasionally tender, lying world.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Ines

    I find myself shamefully admitting that I have made a huge effort to finish this book, it is not the first time I read Alice Munro, but in this work I found myself in serious difficulty to appreciate anything.... I have no idea if this was due to the Italian translation, in my opinion not perfect, but the writing seemed to me tedious and syntactically too pompous and unnecessarily complex. There was not even one of the characters that somehow captured my soul, it’s a bit like I read a warranty man I find myself shamefully admitting that I have made a huge effort to finish this book, it is not the first time I read Alice Munro, but in this work I found myself in serious difficulty to appreciate anything.... I have no idea if this was due to the Italian translation, in my opinion not perfect, but the writing seemed to me tedious and syntactically too pompous and unnecessarily complex. There was not even one of the characters that somehow captured my soul, it’s a bit like I read a warranty manual of some appliance. Love, marriage friendship...... I can compare them like this: I found fluffy words in a windy day. I also asked to a dear friend of mine who teaches Literature at the University how it is possible to have had such an indifferent reaction to this great writer, And I heard the answer that so many people find themselves full in love with one of her opera, and then remain unscathed after the reading of a second book of her. I feel like I betrayed someone or something. Mi ritrovo vergognosamente ad ammettere di aver fatto una fatica enorme a terminare questo libro, non è la prima volta che leggo Alice Munro, ma in questa opera mi sono trovata in seria difficoltà ad apprezzare qualche cosa..... Non ho idea se ciò sia dipeso dalla traduzione italiana, a mio parere non perfetta, purtroppo la scrittura mi è sembrata tediosa e sintatticamente troppo pomposa e inutilmente complessa. Non vi è stato neanche uno dei personaggi che abbia in qualche modo catturato il mio animo, è un pò come se avessi letto un manuale di garanzia di qualche elettrodomestico. Amore, matrimonio amicizia...... posso paragonarle così:le ho trovate parole vaporose in una giornata di vento. Ho chiesto anche ad una amica docente di Letteratura all' Università, come sia possibile aver avuto una reazione così indifferente a questa grande scritttrice, e mi sono sentita rispondere che in tantissimi si ritrovano ad amarla alla follia per un opera, e poi rimanere imperterriti finita la lettura di un suo secondo libro. Mi sento come se avessi tradito qualcuno o qualcosa.....

  7. 5 out of 5

    Teresa

    Every time I read Munro, I wonder what took me so long to get back to her. But it’s good to have space with her. Her stories are overwhelming, leaving you thinking long past you’ve read their last pages. A story I thought would be my least favorite (“What Is Remembered”), I read a second time because my mind was completely changed by its end. Her characters linger in the mind and the themes—family furniture; suicide; marriages of the 1950s and 60s, and their expectations; ‘extraneous’ people as Every time I read Munro, I wonder what took me so long to get back to her. But it’s good to have space with her. Her stories are overwhelming, leaving you thinking long past you’ve read their last pages. A story I thought would be my least favorite (“What Is Remembered”), I read a second time because my mind was completely changed by its end. Her characters linger in the mind and the themes—family furniture; suicide; marriages of the 1950s and 60s, and their expectations; ‘extraneous’ people as comfort, or bridges—need to percolate. Nothing is clear-cut in any of these finely crafted stories, or in the lovely prose of her endings in particular, though I love the way she words everything, her articulation of feelings and of moments that mean more than something momentary. Her handling of time is masterful. Each story is as rich as a novel. One story in particular (“Floating Bridge”) reminded me that life is not one big epiphany (like some short stories make it seem), but a series of mini-epiphanies, not all of which will stick, most having only that momentary effect, but even that helps with life’s rough spots.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Katie

    It's the last story that is uppermost in your mind when you come to write a review of a book of short stories and the last story in this collection was the most contrived and least successful and sucked away some of my immense enthusiasm for the book. It's about a man who puts his wife in a nursing home (not a very credible nursing home) where she forgets him and falls in love with another of the residents. Probably seemed like a great idea to Munro but it's laboured and never quite adds up. Sha It's the last story that is uppermost in your mind when you come to write a review of a book of short stories and the last story in this collection was the most contrived and least successful and sucked away some of my immense enthusiasm for the book. It's about a man who puts his wife in a nursing home (not a very credible nursing home) where she forgets him and falls in love with another of the residents. Probably seemed like a great idea to Munro but it's laboured and never quite adds up. Shame because many of the earlier stories were brilliant. Munro's stories are like mini novels in which, rather than depicting a moment in a life, she depicts an entire life.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Allison

    If this book had been a novel, I would have put it down after the first 50 pages. However, because it is a collection of short stories, I convinced myself that maybe the next story would be more interesting; if I didn't keep reading, I might not be giving Munro a fair chance. Alas, I reached the end of the book and felt nothing but relief--relief that it was over. Munro is a lovely writer, with a good command of language, but her choice of subject matter, story development, and characters was uni If this book had been a novel, I would have put it down after the first 50 pages. However, because it is a collection of short stories, I convinced myself that maybe the next story would be more interesting; if I didn't keep reading, I might not be giving Munro a fair chance. Alas, I reached the end of the book and felt nothing but relief--relief that it was over. Munro is a lovely writer, with a good command of language, but her choice of subject matter, story development, and characters was uninspiring. With a title like "Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage," I expected at least a little bit of drama or intrigue. Or, if Munro left out suspense, then I expected at least a few stories to make me feel something: anger or sadness or indignation. Instead, what I felt--if anything--was melancholy. But really, I mostly felt bored and restless to "get on with it." This summary by one Amazon reviewer gives my impression of the book to a T: "To be fair, I admit [Munro] is a good writer, technically speaking. It's just that she doesn't write about anything interesting. . . . Quick story rundown: a married lady has cancer, urinates in someone's driveway, then kisses their son. The end. Yay, that was neat."

  10. 5 out of 5

    Peter Boyle

    Alice Munro, where have you been all my life?! The level of observation and psychological insight on show in this collection, the ability to explore and portray complex human emotions in just a few sentences - these are the reasons I read fiction. I feel giddy about the many Munro books I have yet to read. There are nine stories in this one, set mostly in western Canada. The protagonists are mainly women and over the course of only a few pages, we learn so much about their lives. The love and los Alice Munro, where have you been all my life?! The level of observation and psychological insight on show in this collection, the ability to explore and portray complex human emotions in just a few sentences - these are the reasons I read fiction. I feel giddy about the many Munro books I have yet to read. There are nine stories in this one, set mostly in western Canada. The protagonists are mainly women and over the course of only a few pages, we learn so much about their lives. The love and loss that has shaped them, the missed opportunities they still think about, the brief encounters that made an enormous impact on them. In Nettles, the narrator is reunited many years later with her teenage crush, and her emotions run from exhilaration to disappointment. Floating Bridge tells of a cancer patient who is reliant on her flaky husband, and an unexpected respite from her predicament. In The Bear Came Over The Mountain, an unfaithful husband has to manage his wife's dementia and adapt to her contentment without him. But my absolute favourite was the title story. It's about a plain country girl named Johanna, without family or friends, working as a housekeeper for an old man: "Her teeth were crowded to the front of her mouth as if they were ready for an argument." Up to now she has accepted her life of little prospect, but hope suddenly springs in the form of correspondence with a man on the other side of the country, who has been hinting at his own loneliness and how much he thinks of Johanna. She decides to risk it all on this one shot at happiness, buying a one-way ticket to the distant town where her penpal resides and spending a large sum on a fancy dress in which she might be married: "Even when she was younger she could never have contemplated such extravagance, not just in the matter of money but in expectations, in the preposterous hope of transformation, and bliss." What she doesn't know is that the man's estranged daughter has been cruelly fabricating her father's replies, and he has no idea that Johanna is on her way to spend the rest of her life with him. It's an utterly compelling read and has one of the most satisfying endings I have ever encountered. All I can say is that I'm amazed I didn't get to Alice Munro sooner. The depth of these meticulously crafted tales, her precise examination of everyday life, her sharp observation of human behaviour - all of these things are right up my street. Maybe a couple of the stories didn't speak to me as much as others, but the ones I loved, I really loved. I can't wait to read more of her work.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Leo Robertson

    Reading Munro is daunting at first: you can't read her stories like other people's. I thought I could get through at my usual 75%- concentration, skimming past the details of the cousin's wedding and blah blah other accessory nonsense. But with Munro, nothing can be taken as accessory! You'll read for three pages, realise you haven't been paying attention and that Munro won't throw you a pronoun other than "she", and you're like, 'Who is she? Ahhh, I'll keep reading for a few more pages and pick Reading Munro is daunting at first: you can't read her stories like other people's. I thought I could get through at my usual 75%- concentration, skimming past the details of the cousin's wedding and blah blah other accessory nonsense. But with Munro, nothing can be taken as accessory! You'll read for three pages, realise you haven't been paying attention and that Munro won't throw you a pronoun other than "she", and you're like, 'Who is she? Ahhh, I'll keep reading for a few more pages and pick it up', and then "she" kisses "him" and five years later "he" dies and the story ends. So I got to page 60, realised I wasn't picking up what was going on, and started again. And suddenly I was trained to read Munro, and in so trained, I realised I could probably read just about any of her books, since all the stories are written in the same clear, conversational tone, dipping off the narrative for nanoseconds to add beautiful psychological insights about the characters and most of the time, by extension, about people you know. Sure, these stories are very Chekhovian, but never quite as tragic. There is much more life affirmation, slowing down to appreciate little moments in people's lives that at the time didn't seem so important but get them thinking hard decades later when they see a particular flower or fabric pattern that throws them back to their uncle's farm as kids. Wonder for other lives unlived is never delivered without love of the path chosen, and this balance permeates the stories in many other aspects. Munro is a beautiful writer, and I can't wait to read all her books, and here's a tangible reason why you should too! http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/10... (well done, literature! I knew it!)

  12. 5 out of 5

    Dolors

    The first Munro that doesn't have a melancholic atmosphere but rather a humorous touch that seems to say "hey, just flow with it, you never know where the tide will take you, so follow your impulses and it might be alright". Johanna is a maid who incidentlly crosses paths with Ken, the son in law, now recently widowed, of Johanna's employer. She is plain, uninteresting and rather timid, so she is taken by surprise when a heated letter declaring passionate love from Ken reaches her. What she can't The first Munro that doesn't have a melancholic atmosphere but rather a humorous touch that seems to say "hey, just flow with it, you never know where the tide will take you, so follow your impulses and it might be alright". Johanna is a maid who incidentlly crosses paths with Ken, the son in law, now recently widowed, of Johanna's employer. She is plain, uninteresting and rather timid, so she is taken by surprise when a heated letter declaring passionate love from Ken reaches her. What she can't know is that Ken's teenage daughter and her friend are playing a bad taste joke on her and writing letters in the widower's name. Munro builds a highly believable scenario where all characters have understandable motivations to act the way they do. And it's uncommon that uncoordinated actions might turn into something pleasing. A fair, entertaining short story that returns my old believe in good luck!

  13. 4 out of 5

    Laysee

    Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage is my fifth book by Alice Munro and also the least pleasing. Munro writes exceptionally fine prose and if I were to rate this collection of short stories on prose alone, I would give this five stars. I continue to marvel at Munro’s facility to express the intractable, the sublimal, and the unutterable with startling clarity. The nine stories depict a host of flawed individuals who make no apology for their flawed lives. They are difficult to re Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage is my fifth book by Alice Munro and also the least pleasing. Munro writes exceptionally fine prose and if I were to rate this collection of short stories on prose alone, I would give this five stars. I continue to marvel at Munro’s facility to express the intractable, the sublimal, and the unutterable with startling clarity. The nine stories depict a host of flawed individuals who make no apology for their flawed lives. They are difficult to read because the patterns of failed relationships and ailing marriages repeat themselves to a nauseating degree. There are stories about individuals who are disgruntled with their lot in life and who go all out to do what they can to escape the confines of their circumstances. This is evident in the titular story of a poor and needy housekeeper using her wits to raise her social status via marriage (assisted fortuitously by two wicked teenagers who wrote love letters on her behalf as a prank). It is also revealed in ‘Home Furnishings’, a coming-of-age story of a rural Ontario girl, whose relationship with an aunt she used to adore for leading a glamorous city life, turns sour. A university education and social opportunities shape her identity in ways that make her appraise her family relationships with new eyes. Scorn and resentment replace admiration and respect. Of a lie that her father felt obliged to tell this aunt, she said, “That was the kind of lie that I hoped never to have to tell again, the contempt I hoped never to have to show, about the things that really mattered to me. And in order not to have to do that, I would pretty well have to stay clear of the people I used to know.” However, the narrator herself is not all that different from her aunt. Both are writers of sorts; both have had failed relationships. ‘Family furnishings’ has taken on new poignancy. Whether we like it or not, our families are inextricably a part of our identity and destiny. In ‘Floating Bridge’, a terminally ill woman has an unexpected reaction to news that chemotherapy has shrunk her cancer cells. She is upset because she realizes that it has removed a certain low-grade freedom. Almost all the stories cast marriage in a horribly negative light. Infidelity and adultery are dominant themes. In ‘Comfort’ and ‘Nettles,’ infidelity is subtle and lurks in the shadows. While ‘Comfort’ captures Nina’s grief of losing her husband to suicide, it is strangely out of place to read about her entertaining a fleeting attraction to Ed, the embalmer. The potential for dalliance hangs in the air and strikes me as distasteful. In ‘Nettles,’ two childhood friends, both married and having weathered disappointments, are reunited in adulthood. The tension for physical intimacy is rendered palpable and one hears the echo of a ‘love that was not usable, that knew its place.’ The stories about adultery are gravely unsettling. In ‘What Is Remembered,’ Meriel, a married woman is introduced to a doctor when she and her husband are attending a funeral in a different city. The doctor offers her a ride for a social visit she needs to make. Within the space of an afternoon, a mutual attraction morphs into lust and the inevitable. Meriel is to remember every detail of that afternoon of betrayal for the rest of her life. I am repulsed at how Munro cast adultery as a sweet offering to be savored over and over. To continually revisit aspects of an illicit intimacy that were missed at earlier recollections is the ultimate betrayal. In ‘The Bear Came Over the Mountain,’ Grant, a philanderer, finds himself in an odd situation when his 70-year-old wife (Fiona) who has dementia developed a romance with Aubrey, another dementia patient in a nursing home. It is also oddly touching to learn the extent to which Grant goes to bring Aubrey who has been discharged back to visit Fiona when she misses Aubrey. Grant loves his wife but prides himself as being a better man than others who cheat on their wives because unlike them, he does not leave her. He makes the philandering life seem like a cross to bear: “Nowhere was there any acknowledgement that the life of a philanderer... involved acts of kindness and generosity and even sacrifice... Many times he had catered to a woman’s pride, to her fragility, by offering more affection - or a rougher passion - than anything he really felt.” I wish I could punch him! Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage grapples with the ugly side of human relationships in a non-judgmental and matter-of-fact manner. It is as though Alice Munro is saying, “This is life. Take it or leave it.” I am leaving it.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Richard

    This collection of stories by Alice Munro is typical of much of her work. The stories are populated by people leading what looks on the surface like humdrum lives. But just underneath the surface, strange feelings boil, ready to erupt when events occur which make this possible. Munro has a lot of knowledge about the various types of relationships between men and women, how they can be built, twisted, broken and remade. These are not happy stories--in fact, some of them are disturbing. But the na This collection of stories by Alice Munro is typical of much of her work. The stories are populated by people leading what looks on the surface like humdrum lives. But just underneath the surface, strange feelings boil, ready to erupt when events occur which make this possible. Munro has a lot of knowledge about the various types of relationships between men and women, how they can be built, twisted, broken and remade. These are not happy stories--in fact, some of them are disturbing. But the narration is powerful, and the author seems always to know exactly what effect she will produce.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Matt Quann

    Four- or five-stars for the skill and power of the writing, three-stars for my overall enjoyment of the collection. Alice packs plots other authors would spend novels unraveling in short stories built with astonishing linguistic economy. I've seen it noted elsewhere, but Munro demands her readers' attention and you can easily become lost in her time-hopping, name-dropping narratives if you aren't keeping up with her. Some of these stories span whole lives, others whole relationships. Her stories Four- or five-stars for the skill and power of the writing, three-stars for my overall enjoyment of the collection. Alice packs plots other authors would spend novels unraveling in short stories built with astonishing linguistic economy. I've seen it noted elsewhere, but Munro demands her readers' attention and you can easily become lost in her time-hopping, name-dropping narratives if you aren't keeping up with her. Some of these stories span whole lives, others whole relationships. Her stories feel like well-trained athletes able to go above and beyond the call of duty. Of the nine stories in this 2001 collection, my favourites were Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage, Post and Beam, and The Bear Came Over the Mountain. All the same, most of these stories aren't my thing. There's a lot of men and women in unhappy marriages and relationships in multiple permutations of division from their partner. I came across a CanLit Generator a few years back, and a few spins of that wheel should bring up something Munro seems in the business of telling. There's a plethora of men and women in tough circumstances bearing their lot with stoicism. At times these stories seem so dreary and depressing that I had to take a day or two between stories. It's not that I'm averse to sad stories, just that these ones seemed to drain me more than usual. Though I rarely think this while reading, most of Munro's stories seem so out of touch with my current life that I had difficulty relating to them even if I could appreciate the craft. Maybe this is something to return to with a few more years under my belt? Had I not recently read two collections that I recently loved, I may have appreciated Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage a lot more. I'm glad to have read my first of Munro and hope to return to her work sometime in the future. Recommendations are welcome!

  16. 5 out of 5

    Billy

    My ambivalence about Alice Munro is reflected well in the fact that I've been reading this book (which contains no more than nine stories, averaging 30-40 pages each) off and on for something like six years, and only just this late afternoon finished it. On the one hand, her stories seem like such weak tea to me - so little happens, the characters are never more than gently amusing, it's all so dull, mundane, Ontarian. When I take one up in a reading mood that's hungry for escape and speedy exci My ambivalence about Alice Munro is reflected well in the fact that I've been reading this book (which contains no more than nine stories, averaging 30-40 pages each) off and on for something like six years, and only just this late afternoon finished it. On the one hand, her stories seem like such weak tea to me - so little happens, the characters are never more than gently amusing, it's all so dull, mundane, Ontarian. When I take one up in a reading mood that's hungry for escape and speedy excitement, or perhaps retching anguish and/or belly laughter, I'm disappointed and swear off bothering with her ever again. On the other, she's so expert at portraying the interior life, the knowing sexuality of aging adults (I am at a loss for a more elegant way to put it), at describing with dignifying compassion the private conspiracies of her principal characters - who are always intelligent and good people, if not morally blameless from external perspectives - and at seasoning all this with stealthily placed, suddenly devastating curls of lyricism in an otherwise plain-seeming forward narrative, that when I'm quiet and patient enough to lose myself in one of these I shudder in reverence at what she's able to accomplish with what superficially appears so boring. Her short stories are like traveling by hot-air balloon; you move slowly, not so far, and so the terrain is familiar and you don't expect to see anything new. But the modesty of those expectations is false: even from just a few hundred feet up, it's actually quite risky to float under fire, the heat of which you'll feel even more in the quiet as you behold the achingly beautiful landscape below, and notice, with some reconsideration, your own relation to it.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Helene Jeppesen

    This is a beautiful compilation of amazing and honest short stories that all deal with life. I was taken away with the very first story, and I was amazed throughout the book with how Alice Munro is able to write about things and situations in life that we don't normally think that much about in our own lives. What I love the most about this compilation is how it is so honest. It's okay to fall in love with other people, but it's your choice whether you want to act on it or not. It's okay to grow This is a beautiful compilation of amazing and honest short stories that all deal with life. I was taken away with the very first story, and I was amazed throughout the book with how Alice Munro is able to write about things and situations in life that we don't normally think that much about in our own lives. What I love the most about this compilation is how it is so honest. It's okay to fall in love with other people, but it's your choice whether you want to act on it or not. It's okay to grow up and feel a distance to a family member who used to be dear to you, but is it okay to suddenly judge that family member? This collection of short stories asks these kinds of questions and I loved it. I also loved how Alice Munro depicts small things in everyday life that you normally never hear about in books. It's hard to describe how she does it, but I was amazed every time I noted it in one of the stories. These trivial things made me feel closer to the stories, and they made me connect with the stories because it reminded me of my own life. However, like with all short story collections there are always stories that appeal more to you than others, and the same goes for this compilation. I appreciated all of the stories and their messages, but I loved some more than others. But Alice Munro's writing and depiction of characters and situations is beautiful, and her stories are definitely worth a read.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Anthony

    Nobel Laureate Alice Munro is certainly an elegant, gifted, subtle writer, a specialist in short stories, and this collection is quite strong in many ways. Only one of these stories really knocked me out, though; at times, her elegance and restraint leave me a little at arms’ length from being totally immersed in the lives of the characters she’s created. Still, there’s never a false note, and while some stories feel more slight than others, they are always compelling and exhibit a welcome clari Nobel Laureate Alice Munro is certainly an elegant, gifted, subtle writer, a specialist in short stories, and this collection is quite strong in many ways. Only one of these stories really knocked me out, though; at times, her elegance and restraint leave me a little at arms’ length from being totally immersed in the lives of the characters she’s created. Still, there’s never a false note, and while some stories feel more slight than others, they are always compelling and exhibit a welcome clarity and directness. Her body of work is quite extensive, and I look forward to continuing to read more of her many collections.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Mag

    My favourite Munro. I love it and am a bit ambivalent at the same time. The stories are so close to real life, so undisguised, and about such difficult subjects, that reading them is a bit like going to the therapist. It's a really intense experience. She reaches somewhere in my psyche and exposes truths and issues I am unwilling to explore on my own. She shows scenarios that may happen, and if they happened, they would be painful. To use an analogy: reading Munro for me is a bit like passing by My favourite Munro. I love it and am a bit ambivalent at the same time. The stories are so close to real life, so undisguised, and about such difficult subjects, that reading them is a bit like going to the therapist. It's a really intense experience. She reaches somewhere in my psyche and exposes truths and issues I am unwilling to explore on my own. She shows scenarios that may happen, and if they happened, they would be painful. To use an analogy: reading Munro for me is a bit like passing by an accident and having that irresistible urge to slow down and look, no matter how gory it is. She is excellent, though, and an absolute master of structure, intrigue and style here, and this collection of short stories is the best thing I have read by her so far.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    It took me a little while to get used to the style of the stories in this collection - this being my first experience of Alice Munro's writing - but once I "got it" I found the stories to be brilliant, in a kind of subdued, quiet, melancholy way. I think the last story (The Bear Came Over the Mountain) was my favourite, although I particularly liked Queenie and the titular story as well. It took me a little while to get used to the style of the stories in this collection - this being my first experience of Alice Munro's writing - but once I "got it" I found the stories to be brilliant, in a kind of subdued, quiet, melancholy way. I think the last story (The Bear Came Over the Mountain) was my favourite, although I particularly liked Queenie and the titular story as well.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Stela

    “Forsooken” but not forsaken In a time of either careless abandon or generous inclusion of any literary technique ever thought of, Alice Munro still manages to surprise the reader, not only with her deceptive narrative perspective or her sly manipulation of the timeline, but also with the unexpected development of well-known themes, the powerful recreation of places and people and the plethora of significations. I read so many volumes of short stories, including one of hers, but I can hardly rec “Forsooken” but not forsaken In a time of either careless abandon or generous inclusion of any literary technique ever thought of, Alice Munro still manages to surprise the reader, not only with her deceptive narrative perspective or her sly manipulation of the timeline, but also with the unexpected development of well-known themes, the powerful recreation of places and people and the plethora of significations. I read so many volumes of short stories, including one of hers, but I can hardly recall holding a better one in my hand. The first and the last stories of this amazing book are masterpieces. The other eight are not far behind. On the whole, a perfect ten that undoubtedly puts Alice Munro among the geniuses of the genre. All tales are about relationships, which end or not in marriage, the main theme of the book, suggested firstly by the title in which the word stands alone like a purpose or an end, then it is developed and mirrored, sometimes indirectly, in each of the ten stories with its own theme. The first, Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage, combines the Cinderella motif with the theme of fate to create maybe an allegory of the creator that loses the reins gradually as his growing creation asserts its independence. The unexpected finale is however only one of the surprises of a text that continually changes the tone and the point of view, falsely foreshadowing to suggest that the story is not the same for every character, just as it is not the same for every reader. Unfolding slowly, it is in turn an unsolved mystery for the station agent, a happily ever after for Johanna, an unpunished wrongdoing for Mr McCauley and an amusing hoax for Edith. Among them all, the most frustrated will feel Edith, whose demiurgic work is reversed in the mockery she thought for a long time was solely hers to display: It was the whole twist of consequence that dismayed her—it seemed fantastical, but dull. Also insulting, like some sort of joke or inept warning, trying to get its hooks into her. For where, on the list of things she planned to achieve in her life, was there any mention of her being responsible for the existence on earth of a person named Omar? This complicated multi-perspective will not be used in the other stories, even though in many the third narrative will hide a first person perspective. Most of them will go in, though, for the surprise element, skilfully leading the plot towards its unexpected climax, often alluding to some other mythical motif. In Floating Bridge, Jinny’s tiredness is opposed to her husband’s callousness, but the eventual compassion of the reader is thwarted by the secret she eventually reveals – the doctor informed her that her cancer is in remission. In a Persephone gesture, she celebrates her revival by drinking from the fountain of youth. The cruelty of the creative mind is explored once again in Family Furnishings, where the black sheep of the family is used only for literary purposes by a narrator with the same lack of warmth as the one in the Faustian Post and Bean. In Queenie, the lost-sister theme is developed using the contrast between reality and expectations. In Comfort and Nettles both heroines make their descensus ad inferos, one in an orphic attempt to retrieve her husband’s traces, the other to apportion the loss and the guilt. In What Is Remembered Meriel rewrites “Madame Bovary” the other way around. If the first story masterfully broke the perspective, to rearrange it according to its own inner rules, the last one, The Bear Came Over the Mountain, does the same with the time. The storyline moves to and fro, zigzagging through different points of the past not necessarily in a Proustian way, but rather following some secret demand of the narrative to reveal the design of the complicate relationship between memory and fidelity. The story ends brilliantly with the image of the innocent heroine tripping over words she begins to forget in the arms of her unfaithful husband who pledges not to forget about her: “You could have just driven away,” she said. “Just driven away without a care in the world and forsook me. Forsooken me. Forsaken.” He kept his face against her white hair, her pink scalp, her sweetly shaped skull. He said, Not a chance. Runaway reminded me of Joyce. Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage is in a class of its own, a landmark oeuvre rather than a satellite work. Definitely a must-read.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Katherine

    When I read Alice Munro I'm always left with that special private surprise of finding thoughts and epiphanies I've never been able to put into words. And because of these moments, I feel like she's writing just for me. Munro has the power to make me forget I'm reading a collection of short stories. Each one is organic and vast in a way that I can never predict. There's always a delicate fear that time will quickly alter the path of each character, but when it does there is satisfaction, no matte When I read Alice Munro I'm always left with that special private surprise of finding thoughts and epiphanies I've never been able to put into words. And because of these moments, I feel like she's writing just for me. Munro has the power to make me forget I'm reading a collection of short stories. Each one is organic and vast in a way that I can never predict. There's always a delicate fear that time will quickly alter the path of each character, but when it does there is satisfaction, no matter the conclusion. To anyone unconvinced of the possibility of depth in a short story, I would say that this is exactly Munro's strength. The way she deals with time is artful and unique. And the fact that many of her stories have been adapted into films and television series (including two stories from this collection!) shows that there is indeed depth. While I loved Runaway, I remember wanting more vibrancy from the men in the stories. I loved the diversity and voice of each woman, but the dudes were always the "everyman" type - I couldn't even visualize them as I was reading. With HFCLM, I got more out of the men. The focus was still on the female characters, but the difference in the male leads added a strength to the collection. I want to read everything she's ever written.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Haley

    These stories!! The intimacy and the overwhelming, heartbreaking tenderness to these stories seem exactly catered to me as a reader. There is so much love and beauty and generosity in these stories that this collection absolutely blew me away. Unlike other reviewers, the first and titular story was not my favorite. I quite enjoyed it - it's masterfully accomplished and the shifts from perspective to perspective were stunning. But during other stories I found myself holding my breath, marveling a These stories!! The intimacy and the overwhelming, heartbreaking tenderness to these stories seem exactly catered to me as a reader. There is so much love and beauty and generosity in these stories that this collection absolutely blew me away. Unlike other reviewers, the first and titular story was not my favorite. I quite enjoyed it - it's masterfully accomplished and the shifts from perspective to perspective were stunning. But during other stories I found myself holding my breath, marveling at her treatment of her character's situations. There were some commonalities to these situations - mothers who died young from illness; suicide to ease terminal illness; infidelity - and, though these topics sound dark, there is so much gentle feeling infused in the stories that they just become beacons of love and light and what it means to have a human connection. The endings to her stories were particular stand-outs. I absolutely loved this collection, and would heartily recommend it.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Larry Bassett

    Today it was announced that Alice Munro has been awarded the 2013 Nobel Prize for Literature. I have had this book of hers on my shelf for a while. I guess it is time to read it. Yes, it is true, I have been saying that even before today. But now I have the book off the shelf! Hateship Friendship Courtship Loveship Marriage The first story gives the book its title and is a hoot! Every plain woman should have a fairy godmother, even if it is two adolescent girls. And, yes, some nursing and managem Today it was announced that Alice Munro has been awarded the 2013 Nobel Prize for Literature. I have had this book of hers on my shelf for a while. I guess it is time to read it. Yes, it is true, I have been saying that even before today. But now I have the book off the shelf! Hateship Friendship Courtship Loveship Marriage The first story gives the book its title and is a hoot! Every plain woman should have a fairy godmother, even if it is two adolescent girls. And, yes, some nursing and management experience is always helpful. My, what an auspicious way to begin a new relationship. With a new author, I mean! Floating Bridge – I like that the stories are set outside the U.S. Or maybe it is that I like that the stories are set in Canada. I grew up in Michigan near Windsor, Ontario, and watched CKLW, Channel 9, a Windsor station. You used to be able to drive to Canada across the Bridge or through the tunnel without a passport. Canada seemed both friendly and foreign. Where was I? Oh, yes, Floating Bridge. There are some good jokes in this book. And some penetrating lines. I love Alice Munro’s writing. I sometimes read short stories amongst my other reading. I think I might be reading this book of short stories straight through though. It’s so good and I don’t want to have the feelings stop. Family Furnishings – “Alfrida was always referred to as a career girl.… It was also said that she was a city person.” We find out quite a bit about her and her life, some things we did not know before. You know, family secrets. Comfort – Lewis was sixty-two. Nina was his wife. “But while she was out, Lewis had been dying. In fact, he had been killing himself.” Now what? You are going to find out and you might be surprised. Nettles - Sometimes in a short story you never learn the name of the protagonist or even if it is a male or female. In this story it is neither a him nor a her for the first five pages. It is a way for me to learn what assumptions I have about masculinity and femininity. If you have ever had a kindred spirit and lost that spirit and then had it come back again, this story may give you chills. I am in the midst of reconnecting with a kindred spirit and I kept wondering how the story was going to turn out. Post and Beam - A young man with a history of mental illness comes to talk with the wife of a man who had mentored him when he was sixteen and at the university. Brendan, the husband, is twelve years older than Lorna, the wife; he thinks Lionel, the young man, lusts after Lorna. Lionel sends impersonal poems to Lorna that she does not share with her husband. Polly, Lorna’s cousin from home, comes to escape. She avoids a tragic end with the help of Lorna and Lionel. Were these discontented people all happy for a moment? What Is Remembered - This has to be one of the strangest assignation stories I have read. Talk about animal magnetism! Queenie - This is the story of a young girl who marries Mr. Vorguilla, an old man set in his ways. The Bear Came Over the Mountain - Can a man be a pimp for his wife in a nursing home? An interesting situation becomes a more interesting situation. This is my first contact with Alice Munro and it won’t be my last. Her words are full of meaning and draw your attention. This is an author who must spend a good deal of time searching for just the right word. Pretty frequently she must find it. She sure can string them together into interesting stories. Four stars. (Five stars if all her stories were as good as the title story.)

  25. 5 out of 5

    notgettingenough

    I guess after a while there isn't really anything you can say about Munro's work. I thought this is by far and away the best I've read so far, but although 22 of my friends on GR have read it, they haven't written a word between them on it. Pretty much how I feel too. Same, same, same, but better! I'm guessing, from the random order I've read these in, that she had a period of really good preceded and succeeded by something less than that. One thing that strikes me as odd about my relationship to I guess after a while there isn't really anything you can say about Munro's work. I thought this is by far and away the best I've read so far, but although 22 of my friends on GR have read it, they haven't written a word between them on it. Pretty much how I feel too. Same, same, same, but better! I'm guessing, from the random order I've read these in, that she had a period of really good preceded and succeeded by something less than that. One thing that strikes me as odd about my relationship to her books is that nothing ever stands out for me. Rest here: http://alittleteaalittlechat.wordpres...

  26. 5 out of 5

    rachel

    Loved loved "Family Furnishings." It made me think all night about what's lost when desire, passion, and truth are repressed, which is always something I personally need a kick in the pants about. (Though, don't most people?) Even better getting that kick from a good book. For me, the collection as a whole is good, very good, but maybe not so far as great. It seemed like it might be something I'd call great in the beginning, when Munro's precision in describing the peculiarities of lust and lonel Loved loved "Family Furnishings." It made me think all night about what's lost when desire, passion, and truth are repressed, which is always something I personally need a kick in the pants about. (Though, don't most people?) Even better getting that kick from a good book. For me, the collection as a whole is good, very good, but maybe not so far as great. It seemed like it might be something I'd call great in the beginning, when Munro's precision in describing the peculiarities of lust and loneliness was resonating so hard with me. But it lost some of its luster after "Nettles," when "What Is Remembered" felt a little too much in theme like the satisfying stories that came before (a married tryst again?) and "Queenie" rang sort of melodramatic and "The Bear Came Over the Mountain" is the story that inspired the film "Away From Her," which failed to connect with me in film and -- to a lesser extent -- in writing, as a story about the characters Grant, Fiona, and Aubrey, but would be very moving to me if observed in real life. I can see Munro as being the sort of author I'd be tempted to binge on, if so much of my reading life right now weren't determined by the one million book clubs I am a member of. Maybe next year, Alice. Wait for me.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Tom

    I've been reading Munro for years and still can't figure out how she does it -- or even how to begin describing exactly what she does in her stories. The narration is often deceptively simple, and the best of them seem to have the sweep of long novels. They can also appear as deceptively quiet stories -- chronicling the mundane existence of daily life -- but ones shattered by common but startling moments that make you sit up straight in your chair. She's been described as "Chekhovian" (a grossly I've been reading Munro for years and still can't figure out how she does it -- or even how to begin describing exactly what she does in her stories. The narration is often deceptively simple, and the best of them seem to have the sweep of long novels. They can also appear as deceptively quiet stories -- chronicling the mundane existence of daily life -- but ones shattered by common but startling moments that make you sit up straight in your chair. She's been described as "Chekhovian" (a grossly overused label), but in Munro's case, such Olympian praise is warranted. My apologies for a frustratingly vague review. This is why I never teach her stories: I admire the hell out of them, but I wouldn't know how to explain them or even what questions to ask. The one concrete suggestion I would offer is to read "Post and Beam" to find the typical genius of Munro at work.

  28. 5 out of 5

    DeB

    At some point in my life, I stopped liking short stories. Reading them, no matter how well crafted, raised feelings of impatience in me. In respect to the authors of this genre, I decided to avoid it for years. But... Alice Munro was breathed at me as the quintessential short story writer, in 2003, by a few avid readers I didn't know well and I decided that it was time to break my fast and immerse myself respectfully in Munro's art. Conclusion: Munro does write beautifully. I, however, continue At some point in my life, I stopped liking short stories. Reading them, no matter how well crafted, raised feelings of impatience in me. In respect to the authors of this genre, I decided to avoid it for years. But... Alice Munro was breathed at me as the quintessential short story writer, in 2003, by a few avid readers I didn't know well and I decided that it was time to break my fast and immerse myself respectfully in Munro's art. Conclusion: Munro does write beautifully. I, however, continue to not be fond of short stories no matter how well-crafted. A vignette is not enough story for me; I want and need more. My loss, I know, but they still irritate me. Ah, well...

  29. 4 out of 5

    Carolyn

    To revisit Alice Munro's stories is always a pleasure in so many ways: her understated prose; her insights into the nuances of relationships; and the way she amplifies the reader's understanding of life beyond the scope of the stories themselves. There is no-one else like her. Her stories are longer than the usual examples of the genre and allow characters to develop. The stories explore women's lives in particular. Munro is never preachy but she lets us know how social change (especially femini To revisit Alice Munro's stories is always a pleasure in so many ways: her understated prose; her insights into the nuances of relationships; and the way she amplifies the reader's understanding of life beyond the scope of the stories themselves. There is no-one else like her. Her stories are longer than the usual examples of the genre and allow characters to develop. The stories explore women's lives in particular. Munro is never preachy but she lets us know how social change (especially feminism) has altered lives and relationships. My favourites in this collection are the title story and Comfort. "Hateship, Loveship..." is a ritual that young girls recite when they match up their name with that of a boy. Sabitha and Edith set out on a mischievous scheme to dupe Sabitha's housekeeper into believing she has a lover but the result of their connivance is far from what they could have expected. This is a delicious tale, cleverly plotted and with final pages that both spring a particular surprise and also release an open-ended idea about life and fate. Comfort packs an emotional punch. Nina comes home from a tennis game to find that her husband Lewis has committed suicide because he is suffering from a terminal illness. Although she had prepared herself for this in the abstract, the reality of his death is something very different. Her husband, a science teacher, had faced difficulties at his school because he refused to countenance any accommodation of creationism. Where does Nina find comfort? In his memory? His atheism? Friends? A stranger? It is often difficult for me to remember short stories, however much I enjoy them at the time. I think though that these stories though will stay with me.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship

    3.5 stars The title story in this volume is fantastic. The slow unfolding and peeling back the layers of the story, the host of well-realized and believable characters bumping up against one another, the historical Canadian setting, and the surprise ending: I loved it all, and am not at all surprised that a movie was based on this 50-page story. It’s better than many a novel. And there are a couple other stories here that I liked. “Comfort” is about the death of a husband, a severe biology teacher 3.5 stars The title story in this volume is fantastic. The slow unfolding and peeling back the layers of the story, the host of well-realized and believable characters bumping up against one another, the historical Canadian setting, and the surprise ending: I loved it all, and am not at all surprised that a movie was based on this 50-page story. It’s better than many a novel. And there are a couple other stories here that I liked. “Comfort” is about the death of a husband, a severe biology teacher who fought the incursion of religion into the curriculum. I enjoyed this mostly for the husband’s story, and was less interested in the wife’s grieving and found the end to peter out. The last story, “The Bear Came Over the Mountain,” follows a philandering but loving husband whose wife develops dementia and embarks on a nursing home romance. This one is poignant and its situations interesting, though I didn’t ever feel I knew enough about the wife and their relationship to completely engage. The remaining six stories seemed to me to be variations on a theme, and it’s a theme Munro fully developed in The Beggar Maid, which I previously read and enjoyed. The protagonist is a woman who is searching for herself, who has an unsatisfying marriage; some of the stories focus more on the marriage, others on her life before or after. Sometimes she leaves, although this was an uncommon choice at the time these stories are set, while other times she contents herself with a fling. Her family background includes a dead mother and remarried father, living in some small town she has left behind. Her story involves learning about herself or about life and how to live in it. These aren’t bad stories, but they didn’t particularly speak to me. In some cases I felt like perhaps I was a generation too young to appreciate the societal influences on these women and how those influences shaped them. The way the women fail to assert themselves in their relationships and make their needs known, the way their marriages often seemed to be strange and independent creatures rather than partnerships negotiated by the people involved, even in a world not too far removed from the modern one, left something of a blank for me. And because these are quiet, character-driven tales, it’s hard to appreciate them if they don’t speak to you. All that said, of course these are very well-written stories, as one would expect from a Nobel Prize winner. I didn’t enjoy them all as much as I’d hoped; I wish Munro had included more along the lines of the first story. But it’s good literature, and I’m happy to have read it. -- A question for those who have read more Munro than I: is this collection specifically thematically focused, perhaps to fit its title, or does all her work focus on these same preoccupations? What Munro collection should I read next if my goal is finding one that doesn’t feel repetitive after The Beggar Maid and this book?

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...