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Synopses & Reviews
“Runaway” is the first story in this stunning collection, sure to be a runaway success. All of the eight stories here are new, published in book form for the first time. Two of the eight have never appeared anywhere, so this will be a special feast for the millions of Munro fans around the world.
Miraculously, these stories seem to have been written by a young writer at the peak of her powers. Alice Munros central characters range from 14-year-old Lauren in “Trespass,” through the young couple in “Runaway,” whose helpful older neighbour intervenes to help the wife escape, all the way to a 70-year-old woman meeting a friend of her youth on a Vancouver street and sitting with him to recall their tangled lives fifty years earlier, through a web of cheerful lies.
Three of the stories, “Chance,” “Soon,” and “Silence,” are linked, showing us how the young teacher Juliet meets her fisherman lover on a train (and, by terrible chance, visits his B.C. home on the day after his wifes funeral); how, years later, she brings baby Penelope back east to show her parents and learns sad secrets about their marriage; and how, twenty years on, she visits the estranged Penelope in her cult-like B.C. community. The result is more powerful than most novels, a quality in Alice Munros stories that has been noted by many reviewers.
The final story, “Powers,” spans 50 years and runs from Goderich to Vancouver and involves a cast of four characters, each of whom steps forward to dominate the scene, not least Tessa, the plain girl whose psychic powers take her on the vaudeville circuit. But it is Alice Munros own powers that dominate this collection and that will amaze reviewers and readers. How can she keep getting better? How can any one person know so much about the heads and hearts of so many different people? And how can she weave them together in stories that delight academics and ordinary readers alike, making each new Alice Munro book a runaway bestseller?
"Nothing is new in Munro's latest collection, which is to say that the author continues to perfect her virtuosic formula in these eight short stories, several of which previously appeared in the New Yorker. While her style typifies the traditionally realistic, often domestic genre of that magazine, Munro's stories are also global, bighearted and warm. In the title story, a housekeeper tries to leave her emotionally abusive husband, entangling her employer in the process. Three interconnected stories — 'Chance,' 'Soon' and 'Silence' — follow a schoolteacher as she falls for an older man, returns as a young mother to visit her ailing parents on their farm and much later tries to 'rescue' her daughter from a religious cult. In 'Tricks,' a lonely nurse on a day trip encounters a man from Montenegro and vows to return to his clock shop one year later to resume their affair. In deliberate prose, Munro captures their fleeting moment of passion on a train platform: 'This talk felt more and more like an agreed-upon subterfuge, like a conventional screen for what was becoming more inevitable all the time, more necessary, between them.' Munro's characters are hopeful and proud as they face both the betrayals and gestures of kindness that animate their relationships. One never knows quite where a Munro story will end, only that it will leave an incandescent trail of psychological insight. Agent, William Morris. 100,000 first printing. (Nov. 14)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information, Inc.)
About the Author
Alice Munros fame abroad is matched by the admiration she enjoys in Canada, where she has won the Governor Generals Award three times. Awards for her past collections include the W.H. Smith Prize in the U.K.; the National Book Circle Critics Award in the U.S.; the PEN/Malamud Award for Excellence in Short Fiction; the Rea Award for the Short Story; the Giller Prize, the Trillium Prize and the Libris Award. She lives in Ontario and British Columbia.
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