Dear Life by Alice Munro

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Dear Life by Alice Munro

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Buy Dear Life by Alice Munro at Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

Category: Short Stories
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Stacey Barkley
Reviewed by Stacey Barkley
Summary: Alice Munro has made an art form of short story writing.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 319 Date: October 2013
Publisher: Vintage
ISBN: 9780099578635

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Alice Munro has made an art form of short story writing. Dear Life is a collection of truly beautiful short stories, perfectly crafted in a way that leaves no wanting feeling, as is often an issue with short stories. Each of the 14 stories contained within the collection is just that; a story in its own right. There is no getting caught up and lost in style and literary flare, but a cool prose, a calmness of tone and good strong stories.

Hitting at the core of human psychology and feeling, Munro weaves a theme of betrayal and loss throughout this collection. From the young bride in Amundsen, who sacrificed a lot for a love based on functionality, and was jilted en route to the ceremony anyway, to Aunt Dawn in Haven who welcomes in her husband’s estranged sister behind his back, each work sees dynamic relationships unfold as they build to acts of betrayal, both large and small.

With each story we stumble straight into the midst of someone’s life. These are not grand tales, but very ordinary moments picked out and overturned to throw up their raw emotion and a rare honesty of the intricacies of human relationships. Munro has a knack for capturing the small moments where life unravels around us; her stories are brutally honest and packed with frank and candid snapshots into the lives that they hold. In a very subtle way, a way one struggles to articulate, Munro has masterfully endowed each tale with a distinct feeling; wrapped up in each story is the assertion of the simple fact that life keeps moving.

And then Munro does something completely surprising. She gives us Finale; a final four stories that blend fact and fiction to produce four works of powerful memory and feeling.

These final four entries are really something special. They have a slightly different feel from the rest of the book, perhaps owing to the personal feel of these being glimpses into the author’s own life. They tell the story of a girl as she grows up amid a small town in Canada. Voices has us enter into a party which she and her mother left on account of the local prostitute being present, while The Eye depicts her encounter, at a wake, with a dead body for the first time. And so, as each of the four picks out a moment in her life, we see the girl grapple frankly with the social mores and norms of the time, questioning and astute in the way only a child can be. Bound up in these quietly engaging stories, is an insight into the complex relationships between mother and daughter, husband and wife, family and society, each from the perspective of an ordinary young girl at the centre of an ordinary life. And that precisely is where the power of these stories lies.

All fourteen of these are short stories so well told that one cannot read the book continuously through. Just as at the end of a good novel, the story must be allowed to settle, the characters dwelled upon and the course of events accepted.

Profound, poignant and undeniably powerful, this truly is the short story at its finest.

We've recently enjoyed The Color Master by Aimee Bender which you might like to try if you enjoy short stories.

Buy Dear Life by Alice Munro at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Dear Life by Alice Munro at Amazon.co.uk


Buy Dear Life by Alice Munro at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Dear Life by Alice Munro at Amazon.com.

If you'd like an ebook but don't read on Kindle then the book is available from Sainsburys.

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