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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Her gemstone eyes
Why is Alice Munro regarded widely described as one of the greatest female short story writers, yet also perhaps read less than this accolade would suggest?

This selection from five collections covering the decade 1998-2009 displays the key aspects of her writing. On one hand, stories which are often as long as 30-40 pages, loosely plotted to allow...
Published on 2 May 2012 by Antenna

versus
2.0 out of 5 stars Not my scene
I did not enjoy these short stories. they went into great detail at the beginning then the end came suddenly.
Published 7 months ago by leena


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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Her gemstone eyes, 2 May 2012
By 
Antenna (UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: New Selected Stories (Hardcover)
Why is Alice Munro regarded widely described as one of the greatest female short story writers, yet also perhaps read less than this accolade would suggest?

This selection from five collections covering the decade 1998-2009 displays the key aspects of her writing. On one hand, stories which are often as long as 30-40 pages, loosely plotted to allow digressions into the lives of various characters, generally lacking in suspense or dramatic endings, or pithy punchlines. On the other, very acute observation of human behaviour and empathy with their thoughts and emotions, a strong sense and apparent love of the Canadian landscape and seasons, and a deceptive rambling in stories which maintain a clear underlying purpose and momentum.

I particularly enjoyed "The Bear came over the Mountain", about a sensitive and creative woman whose Alzheimer's has become sufficiently serious for her husband to place her in a home. When she forms an attachment to another resident, is this a kind of revenge for her husband's serial infidelity? What makes this story interesting is that it is written from the husband's perspective. Although sad in places, this is too insightful and at times sharply witty to be depressing.

On a lighter note, I appreciated "Chance" about an academically inclined but uncertain young woman on the brink of her adult life and possible career, who responds to a letter from a married man she has met by chance on a train. To what extent is she choosing her fate?

The three stories selected from "Too much Happiness" were the ones I enjoyed most in that collection: the woman who has suffered terribly from a controlling man, the woman estranged from a son whom she loves who drifts into a lifestyle she finds alien, and, most gripping of all, the widow who has to deal with a sinister guest.

I found it hard to get into the first story "The Love of a Good Woman" which seemed quite disjointed with too diffuse an opening section for me. "My Mother's Dream" written apparently from the viewpoint of a baby is also highly original and imaginative, but not to everyone's taste.

Perhaps one is most drawn to the stories which reflect one's own experience, so that the range of Munro's topics make it likely that there will be something for everyone. Also, each story gives a great deal to discuss, as we are likely to come away with some different perceptions of each tale.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Absorbing and thought-provoking, 4 Jun. 2014
This review is from: Lying Under the Apple Tree (Vintage Classics) (Paperback)
For someone who hasn’t read Alice Munro before this particular collection could be seen as a good introduction to her work as it features a selection of her stories from her collections between 1998-2009.

Having won many prestigious awards her name is synonymous with beautifully crafted stories of acute observations of human behaviour and emotion. This is certainly reflected in all the stories here. Each story is complete in its telling of an experience but often you are left thinking I wonder what happened next or was she/he really happy with the choices they made. Munro draws you in to people’s lives and leaves you still continuing their story in your head. I found it in turns intense, engaging and thought-provoking.

If you like stories that run at a pace with “stuff happening” you might find this book stifling or unrewarding as you have to invest time and patience in reading every sentence and absorbing the language and style which is very descriptive.

Also with this collection of stories I felt that the theme was one of overriding melancholy or tragedy throughout so if you like reading for several hours as I do, you might find the stories become a little heavy when read one after another there’s not much in the way of light-heartedness or humour.

In contrast, to compare this collection with one of my favourite authors William Trevor – his short story collection “Outside Ireland” explores everyday lives of everyday people with intimacy and complexity but he also has moments of great wit which alleviate the sadness and tragedies abounding.

Highly recommended.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfection, 30 July 2013
By 
J. Elmes (London UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: New Selected Stories (Hardcover)
Alice Munro is as good as everyone says. These short stories are perceptive, warm crystallizations of very human problems and desires. They challenge and illuminate and her prose is a delight.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfection, 3 Nov. 2013
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Super read! Highly recommended. Beautifully crafted stories and not a word is wasted. Each story is a little gem. This book is a joy to read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I don't usually like short stories - in fact I usually avoid them ..., 7 Aug. 2014
This review is from: Lying Under the Apple Tree (Vintage Classics) (Paperback)
I don't usually like short stories - in fact I usually avoid them - but I tried this collection as it was recommended by one of my favourite authors, Lori Lanssens, and I absolutely loved the stories, There is tremendous depth and acuity shown by the author and it was possible to become involved with the character despite the brevity of the story - previously one of my main objections to short stories. Perhaps this collection would be better described as novellas rather than short stories. A delightful experience and I recommend them to everyone, especially short story phobics as I am (or was)!!
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best bar none, 15 Mar. 2012
This review is from: New Selected Stories (Hardcover)
If you read any Alice Munro you will know that she is the best short story writer of all time. If you have not, you are lucky because there a number of collections awaiting you. You will not be disappointed.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Poignant slice of life, 9 Feb. 2013
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Alice Munro's stories read more like short novels. They are poignant and full of bittersweet characters. Munro writes very visually, you can see the Canadian landscapes and small town settings which she draws beautifully. There is a sense loss in many of the stories but Munro's genius is her sympathy with her characters. Their refusal to let life defeat them is uplifting.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, 13 Jan. 2013
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It is some months since I read this book and yet the stories are still fresh in my mind - the sign of an outstanding writer.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Why I love Alice Munro., 1 July 2014
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This review is from: Lying Under the Apple Tree (Vintage Classics) (Paperback)
Alice Munro is the greatest living short story writer by a long way, in my opinion, and should be at the top of every reader's list.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply brilliant, 26 April 2014
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rb "rb14" (London) - See all my reviews
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If there is a better writer of short stories I would very much like to know who it is. Ok maybe Bellow.
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Lying Under the Apple Tree (Vintage Classics)
Lying Under the Apple Tree (Vintage Classics) by Alice Munro (Paperback - 24 April 2014)
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