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3.9 out of 5 stars16
3.9 out of 5 stars
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on 1 March 2008
this is the first book I ever read from Alice Munro, bought without too much thinking in an airport shop. I started it and have not been able to put it down, although I wanted to read slowly to make it last. The stories flow one into the next and captured my imagination and emotions. The story connects Scotland to Canada, across generations family and word events. The language is magical, of elegant simplicity. I love this book, and I cannot wait to read more from her.
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on 9 August 2008
I can`t think of anything in the world I`d like to do than to be able to conjure up the world of Alice Munro. OK it may at times be a bit down beat but for real engagement with the elements of what it means to be human she can`t be surpassed.I can read her stories over and over and always feel they are brand new. She gives a sense of the history and continuity of family life and her ability to give the reader a feeling of being deeply involved in whatever community she is writing about is quite amazing .
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on 6 June 2014
I turn to short stories when time is too busy to allow space for a novel; Carver, Chekhov, Munro and Trevor are among my favourite authors. That said, The View from Castle Rock is possibly the best collection I have read. It is almost novelistic in scope and has the personal touch of memoir, but as she emphasises in the introduction, these are stories, and we must trust her on that. So there are gaps and discontinuities, but there is a completeness to this collection that is genuinely unusual.

For me the keystone that brings the whole together is one of the final stories, `What Do You Want to Know For?' In the story this question is the possible response to a search for information about a mysterious vault in a cemetery, but afterwards you realise the narrator was also after other information - about a lump in her breast, about the glacial history of the landscape, and more broadly across the book, about where her family had come from - to which the question could also apply. The lump might seem the most significant thing to find out about, but becomes the most inconsequential, while the family history might seem frivolous until it brings about connections between strangers and adds weight to a life. All in 25 pages.

Of course the narrator of this story is `Alice Munro' and we should be grateful that she has always wanted to know about `Nature' and the things around her. This passionately gathered information emerges as the detail within her stories that makes them so true to life.
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on 18 May 2008
When I was a university student in Canada, a professor told me it was very likely Alice Munro would be the first Canadian to win the Nobel Prize in Literature. All her short story collections were considered brilliant by the critics, to the point where she was hailed the - arguably - best short story writer alive. This latest collection of short stories goes some way in proving this notion. As a departure from what she has done before, this collection is an exploration of her ancestor's lives in Scotland, their move to Canada, and her own life experience growing up in rural Ontario. She looks at the way we tell stories to keep our connections to the past alive, and how these stories sometimes disappear. But, to complicate things, she plays a neat trick by mixing fact with fiction while still seducing the reader into believing it's all true.

This was an easy and enjoyable read, but not all stories were successful. I loved the story about her ancestors crossing the Atlantic, and her life as a young girl; but often I found my concentration drifting away as she waxed elegiacally about the utensils in someone's kitchen, or the trees surrounding a neighbouring farm. Nevertheless, this is Alice Munro, i.e. these stories are still far better than most stuff out there. Her insights into people's lives, no matter how restricted or simple they may be, are full of wisdom. Like her compatriot Margaret Atwood, she comes across as a lady you'd like to have a coffee with and chat for hours.
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on 23 August 2008
Munro is a great storyteller. I thoroughly enjoyed her previous works and this one did not let me down either.

This memoir is about a time gone by and even though I do not share a similar background to the author, I was drawn into the book and felt part of it.

It awakens emotions.
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on 6 October 2011
This is Alice Munro employing her research and writing skills in a compelling family lineage narrative. A fascinating, autobiographical collection, helped by her fiction skills.
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on 17 December 2008
I have previously read all Alice Munro's short story collections, and find them sublime. The second half of this collection lives up to her usual standard, but I found the earlier stories about her family history indulgent and a little dull. It was almost as if she had done some research, and then wrote a story to fit around the facts, rather than the insights and revelations that are her normal forte.
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on 7 December 2013
I don't usually read short stories but found out I might be very distantly related to Alice Munro (maiden name also Laidlaw/ relatives who emigrated to Canada around the same time as hers/grandfather born in Toronto etc) so thought I would give it a go. Because of the possible family links and experiences I found it interesting but it did flag before the end. Wonderfully written, of course, but others may not have persevered right to the end the way I did!
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on 4 July 2011
The first 120 pages are achingly dull but she is a good enough writer to keep one reading(just).

The mix of real documents (if they are real) with fictional reconstruction, plus what sometimes reads like aside notes on the research she's done on her family history, just didn't work for me. However as one persevered one got used to the style and I found much that was well observed and there were passages of really good writing shining like beacons in others of banality.

I shall search out some of her stories in the optimistic hope that they deserve the mountains of praise that has been heaped upon her.
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on 16 June 2016
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