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Lives of Girls and Women Paperback – 25 May 1989

5.0 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Paperback, 25 May 1989
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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd; New edition edition (25 May 1989)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140121617
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140121612
  • Product Dimensions: 12.8 x 1.4 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 219,415 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


?Munro has an unerring talent for uncovering the extraordinary in the ordinary. "Newsweek"

"Marvelous.... A ribald, humorous appreciation of girlhood [that] manages to treat sex in a new way.... A real joy!"-"Ms."
Praise from fellow writers:
"Her work felt revolutionary when I came to it, and it still does." --Jhumpa Lahiri
"She is one of the handful of writers, some living, most dead, whom I have in mind when I say that fiction is my religion." --Jonthan Franzen
"The authority she brings to the page is just lovely." --Elizabeth Strout
"She's the most savage writer I've ever read, also the most tender, the most honest, the most perceptive." --Jeffery Eugenides
"Alice Munro can move characters through time in a way that no other writer can."--Julian Barnes
"She is a short-story writer who...reimagined what a story can do." --Loorie Moore
"There's probably no one alive who's better at the craft of the short story." --Jim Shepard
"A true master of the form." --Salman Rushdie
"A wonderful writer." --Joyce Carol Oates --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Inside Flap

The only novel from Alice Munro-award-winning author of The Love of a Good Woman--is an insightful, honest book, "autobiographical in form but not in fact," that chronicles a young girl's growing up in rural Ontario in the 1940's.
Del Jordan lives out at the end of the Flats Road on her father's fox farm, where her most frequent companions are an eccentric bachelor family friend and her rough younger brother. When she begins spending more time in town, she is surrounded by women-her mother, an agnostic, opinionted woman who sells encyclopedias to local farmers; her mother's boarder, the lusty Fern Dogherty; and her best friend, Naomi, with whom she shares the frustrations and unbridled glee of adolescence.
Through these unwitting mentors and in her own encounters with sex, birth, and death, Del explores the dark and bright sides of womanhood. All along she remains a wise, witty observer and recorder of truths in small-town life. The result is a powerful, moving, and humorous demonstration of Alice Munro's unparalleled awareness of the lives of girls and women. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a wonderful book, rich as a banquet, as finely worked as an intricate embroidery, the kind of book I love to read and the kind I aspire to write.
It reads like an auto-biography but is in fact a novel, which chronicles the girlhood and journey to womanhood of Del. Del is an extra-ordinary girl in an ordinary town - the town's name, Jubilee, is beautifully ironic as nothing the least bit celebratory or festive ever happens there. Two things make her extra-ordinary. Her non-conforming, encyclopaedia-selling mother is the first. She brings Del up in spite of her dull, compliant father, to question everything, especially the sacred cows of Jubilee society, and to expect great things of herself. The second thing is Del herself, her gimlet eye and penetrating understanding, her capacity for reflection, her innate intelligence.
Warring against these forces are the usual, but so truthfully rendered, forces of adolescence; peer pressure, childish curiosity, teenage rebellion. Any woman and I suspect most men will have spent time, as Del does, both yearning for God and not believing in him, hating and loving their parents at one and the same time, eaten up with stammering self-consciousness when the boy we have been fantasising about in explicit, breathless Technicolor just so much as looks our way. The consuming fear and obsessive fascination of sex. This is a coming of age novel as good, and probably better, than any I have read.
Jubilee is peopled by a cast of wonderful characters, some of them only sketchily drawn and yet still amazingly corporeal; Del's two eccentric Aunts, Mr Chamberlain, the paedophile Radio announcer, Miss Farris the doomed school teacher.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is an early memoir by Nobel laureate, Alice Munro. It is, I'm told, her only full length book. It tells the story of her life from early adolescence through to her final school exams in small town Canada. It is in turns moving, funny, charming, quirky and very much of its time. I loved it. It is a very female piece. Men play a small role and are mostly objects of amusement or bemusement, and, in one case, thorough grubbiness - but, though the title may sound off-putting, it was, for me a joyous read.
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As described, no problems
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0x8a3b5b90) out of 5 stars 83 reviews
71 of 71 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8a17581c) out of 5 stars A classic coming of age story with a twist. 17 Jun. 2002
By Nicole - Published on
Format: Paperback
Alice Munro is truly the master of the short story. "Lives of Girls and Women" deserves to be on everyone's list of must-read books. Munro is an exceptionally talented writer, one who can take ordinary situations and turn them into something wonderful. Here, she presents a traditional coming of age story, then spices it up with her own unique brand of dry, subtle wit and a host of zany characters. In "Lives," we follow Dell Jordan from childhood to young adulthood as she struggles with her identity in a small town in southern Ontario. Along the way, we meet many colorful characters, including Dell's Baptist boyfriend, her social outcast mother, a suicidal music teacher, and a lecherous friend of the family. "Lives" is more of a collection of short stories than a novel, but each story is like a puzzle piece. In the end, each piece fits together to create a massize jigsaw puzzle of Dell's life. I have read "Lives" three times, and it is one of my favorite books - addictive, humorous, and thoroughly enjoyable.
44 of 49 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8a175870) out of 5 stars Great literature - Munro is a master structuralist 21 May 2002
By Jay Stevens - Published on
Format: Paperback
What an amazing book! This not merely a good book for middle-aged women, or good instruction for girls, or any such claptrap. To label Munro as good "women's lit" is demeaning to women and demeaning to "The Lives of Girls and Women." (Plus it makes men who enjoy reading her a bit funny.) It's a great book! In any category!
Munro is a master of characterization and narrative structure. Del's description of her mother, for example, reveals: (1) Del's feeling of discomfort at her own place within Jubilee's hierarchy and environment; Del wants to fit in, and her mother embodies the eccentric within her own self. (2) Del's mother's strengths, pulling herself from abject poverty, putting herself through school, starting her own business in conservative postwar rural Canada - this woman evokes our admiration, despite the disgust of our narrator. It's these multidimensional portraits that makes Munro so great - yes, a character (Del's mother) can earn our admiration, disgust, and pity all at once...
Then in the building of conflict, Munro ALWAYS surprises us. Every scene is fresh, new, interesting, every culmination of conflict resolves in ways we would never expect. Take the time when Del was being molested by her mother's boarder's boyfriend. One day she goes off with him in his car out to the country, and we're expecting some "Bastard Out of Carolina" child-raping exploitation and subsequent weepy victim hood. But Munro makes a left at the light, has the man simply masturbate in front of the child, who for her part is excited, charmed, and repelled by the sight and is grateful to be introduced to the mystery of the penis.
And lastly, Munro refuses to depict her women in the same, old tired way. Her women are not dragged around by the hand by handsome strangers, as they so often are in movies. Her women are not victims of rape, incest, or peer pressure, as in way too many contemporary novels. No, Munro's women are real. They have drive, ambition, and a deep desire to be seen as people.
Definitely one of my favorite books, ever.
21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8aa426f0) out of 5 stars My favorite book 24 Oct. 2001
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Paperback
I couldn't possibly say all I want to say about how good this book is. I am Alice Munro's biggest fan and this is my favorite of her books. Many of her later stories are larger in scope, more ambitious in their reach, but this book is truly a gem. Get lost in Del's world. Munro creates a lush, astounding, painfully, gorgeously real world. Read this book and then read it again. And give it to every one of your friends.
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8a1843b4) out of 5 stars REALISTIC AND BRILLIANT 22 Sept. 1999
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Paperback
I was forced to read this book during the final exams for my H.S.C. but actually found that it was very enjoyable. It is the touching story of a young girl growing up in Canada in the 40s, who yearns to be an artist, and her journey towards womanhood. The format of the story is unique and the characters are likeable and real enough to believe in. This is a well-told semi-autobiographical novel which stays in the memory long after it's has been read.
19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8a5cf6f0) out of 5 stars Did the religous guys really ban this?! 2 Feb. 2012
By Rune Rindel Hansen - Published on
Format: Paperback
I think I saw on youtube, that some religious schools banned this novel. Man those guys are easily offended! I think actually this novel is quite innocent. I mean it's just a little girl who honestly seek some answers to her existential questions in the established religions in her town. Then when she grows a little older she naturally becomes interested in the question of sex, and explore that. What could be more natural and innocent?! I think Alice Munro's voice is charming and entertaining. Especially the part where her school performs an operetta is catching and memorable.

There is a very strong scene in the end of the novel, which actually the whole of the novel centers around. This scene takes place in the Wawanash river when Del Jordan is bathing with her truck driver boyfriend Garnet French. In my opinion Alice Munro in that scene carves out an eternal and everlasting moment in the history of litterature. To me the scene is perhaps not so much about religion specifically, but more about human society in general.

As with some great artists, there is something superior and untouchable about Alice Munro. For a rather plain person like me, this strange stuff, is a source of recurrent intellectual itchiness, because I will properly never be able to touch it, define it and put it in a box.

Is the books Ontario town, Jubilee, perhaps inspired by her experiences in the Ontario town, Wingham?
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