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Lives of Girls and Women

4.02 of 5 stars 4.02  ·  rating details  ·  4,880 ratings  ·  317 reviews

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...more
Paperback, 277 pages
Published February 13th 2001 by Vintage (first published 1971)
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Community Reviews

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Thousands of questions which rise at different stages of life need not find answers but they give birth to a colorful diorama which has its share of black and white shades too. I have little to say here but for the past few days I was thinking about this book and the lives it depicted. Lives of Girls, lives of Women, lives which are similar and different than ours. Alice Munro doesn’t glorify anything and at the same time she brings out the essence of reality in a glorious way. She writes with a...more
Se ve que ‘La vida de las mujeres’ es la única novela que ha escrito Alice Munro. La escribió a los cuarenta años y tiene mucho de autobiográfico. Siempre podrá salir algún criticón y decir que no es una novela sino una serie de relatos con los mismos personajes, pero, por más que los capítulos estén claramente diferenciados, tienen un hilo conductor claro que es el de una niña que se hace mayor en un pueblo rural de Canadá. Tengo que confesar que los libros sobre niñas que crecen son una de mis...more
Where to start. Munro had me hooked in the first paragraph: "We spent days along the Wawanash River, helping Uncle Benny fish....
He was not our uncle, or anybody's."

"He was not our uncle, or anybody's." That line is so short and so brilliant--can't you just picture Uncle Benny in your head right now? Munro does not mock the characters in this small-town story the way Flannery O'Connor might.

Indeed Del Jordan, our young narrator, has never really left the town of Jubilee and a part of her never...more
I love everything Alice Munro writes, but this one has to be one of my favourites.
Sep 30, 2008 kate rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: women
this was the first book i've read by alice munro, so obviously i've never read her short stories. i enjoyed it to an extent, but at times found it plodding and slow. there were certain things in her descriptions of del's feelings that i could really relate to. all in all i'd probably give it 3.5 stars, but i'm not really all that interested in reading more of her work after reading this. totally mixed feelings.
Mariano Hortal
Publicado en

Si hay una escritora que tiene posibilidades de ganar el Nobel de literatura en este año o en los siguientes es, sin duda, la canadiense Alice Munro; sería el pretexto perfecto para los miembros de la academia sueca para decir que han elegido a un escritor norteamericano, y encima es mujer. Son un par de factores de peso.

Aprovechando entonces la proximidad de la entrega del Nobel de literatura de este año y este pequeño monográfico de mujeres...more
Cynthia's fine review led me to this book, and it didn't disappoint. It was first published in 1971, right around the time that I was exploring my own ideas about religion and male/female relationships. I found the narrator's ideas on these two topics very interesting.

And then there are those characters who, as Cynthia pointed out, are so easily identifiable in our own lives. I had to keep reminding myself that the novel was set in Canada, as the characters and setting reminded me so much of my...more
Andrea Carolina
Tengo muchos sueños en la vida, bueno no, tengo algunos sueños muy grandes, que ya me están aburriendo porque últimamente me causan muchos problemas. Y es que es así, nunca se sabe cuando llega el punto en que uno deja de vivir por lograr algo grande en el futuro, y ya no sabe uno hasta que punto uno se autoengaña con los sueños, los proyectos o todo eso que le vende a uno la sociedad, la familia y hasta uno mismo. Que un postgrado, un doctorado, una vida en otro país o incluso unos hijos, una f...more
Alice Munro is principally a short story writer. This is a novel, but really it feels like a book of eight short stories about the same girl at different points in her life, from hitting puberty to the brink of adulthood. Each story focuses on different people in her life so that there isn't a lot of ongoing conflict throughout the book as a whole. What makes it flow is the evolution of Del's character.

I dragged my feet through the early years, but I felt more interest once Del began dealing wit...more
These characters! Painted with such humor and Aunties Grace and Elspeth, and Aunt Nile with her green fingernails, and Del's mother, and the school friends, and Miss Farris....

The best thing about this book, however, is the portrayal of Del's emotional landscape as she moves through adolescence. Among my favorite passages:
--after Del's fight with Mary Agnes ("Being forgiven creates a peculiar shame....")
--Del's observations about her mother's attempts to sustain an intellectual...more
This was an odd read for me, perhaps because I began it assuming it to be a novel when in fact it originated as a collection of short stories and it reads as such. It has a rather disjointed feel to it and certain elements are off for example questions are raised in one ‘chapter’ that had already been answered in the previous one, ideas are repeated etc.
It is primarily a tale of a young girl, Del Jordan, and her growth from childhood to maturity in a small town in Ontario, it is a catalogue of t...more
Wow. I'm trying to remember if I have ever read a book that so perfectly captures what it is like to grow up as a girl, being confused about the strange things other boys and girls and adults tell you about gender norms, sex, death, and future expectations for your life. Lives of Girls and Women is set in a small town in Canada in the 1940s and 1950s, but narrator Del's experiences are so universal that they transcend the setting. Alice Munro is known for writing short stories, but this is her m...more
Carlos Bennett
"La vida de las mujeres" está entre la frontera de la novela y el cuento. Son más bien una serie de historias ordenadas cronológicamente sobre una niña que va creciendo en un pueblo semi rural de Canadá.
Importa poco si es novela o cuento; si fueran cuentos, algunos estarían entre los mejores que he leído nunca - me gustó sobre todo el primero, la historia de un hombre de campo que se busca una esposa en el periódico, o el último, cuando la protagonista tiene su primer novio serio.

Alguna vez le...more
Colleen O'Neill Conlan
Any of these chapters could stand alone as a fully realized, contained short story. At first that made this book seem un-novelistic, but as I read along, it worked pretty well. The title, also the title of one of the chapters, really summarizes the book. It starts with Del as a young girl living on the wilder outskirts of town on the Flats Road, where her father has a silver fox farm and her mother seems to be a somewhat frustrated intellectual.. At first her interactions are with her mother, fa...more
Anne Callahan
Feb 11, 2008 Anne Callahan rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Anne by: Jason Frank
This is a lovely semi-autobiographical novel about a boyish girl (in the spirit of Scout Finch) growing up on the Canadian prairie. Living in New York makes me hungry for books like these that treat the landscape like one more complicated lovable character. The cover of my 1974 paperback edition (courtesy of Jason) features an illustration of a couple in the far distance of a wheat field, big pseudo-calligraphic typography, and, on the back, three instances of the word 'sexual' in just four sent...more
Quiet, introspective, observant, and beautiful. Alice Munro's stories are surprising, which is something I love in writing. Her characters, observations, and settings are all full of oblique angles that are not obvious and not predictable. Munro points out that people (and the world) are both more mundane and infinitely more complex than their fictional counterparts. Real tragedy is never as exciting as its fictional counterpart. Real people both stay the same, remain boring, and often do things...more
Like much of the Southern Ontario Gothic sub-genre, “Lives” is an acquired taste. But whether or not small towns and angsty woman is your thing, it is undeniable that Alice Munro is a woman of considerable talent. “Baptized” was probably the single best chapter I’ve ever read about growing up. Be patient with this book, and you will be rewarded – the insight is subtle, hard won, and absolutely worth it.
Jeanette (jema)
I'll see if I can write up a review tomorrow, but for now, my fave scenes:
*The dunking in the river of course
*the deflowering among the peonies
*Uncle Benny's crazy wife

oh and Del's exploratory church visits reminded me of my own mom back in the 50:ies when she would go visit all churches in the town in a kinda of wide-eyed innocence yet such an atheist back then already.
Willy Schuyesmans
Ik heb uit dit boek alleen het eerste verhaal 'Flats Road' gelezen in een voortreffelijke vertaling van Pleuke Boyce. Het vertelt over het opgroeien van kinderen in een rurale omgeving in de buurt van Ontario, Canada. Een ietwat simpele man 'oom Benny', de wat vreemde buur van de ik-persoon (een kind) zoekt een vrouw via een advertentie en komt getrouwd uit de stad terug met geestelijk gestoord meisje met een kind. Ze slaat het kind, zoekt ruzie met de andere bewoners van Flats Road en verdwijnt...more

Han pasado muchos meses (casi un año) desde que Alice Munro fuera galardonada con el Premio Nobel de Literatura, pero no ha sido hasta ahora que he sentido la necesidad de atreverme con los aclamados relatos que han catapultado a la escritora canadiense a tan prestigiosa condición. 'La vida de las mujeres' es una colección novelada de pequeñas ficciones en las que su joven protagonista, Del Jordan, ofrece una mirada única y encantadora sobre temas que despiertan una arrebatadora curiosidad du...more
More like a series of connected shorts than a true "novel" in any conventional sense. The connective thread is Del, a girl we see at a number of points in her smalltown life, and in a number of scenarios--but I never felt I fully grasped her as a character, in the way Munro usually is able to convey. The backdrop feels fleshy and comforting even as it alienates you, and the other characters become immediately recognizable--the tireless old uncle figure, whose work will go to naught (as everyone...more
Carol Kennedy
I enjoyed Lives of Girls and Women, and I had just recently read Love of a Good Woman before reading LoGaW. With the short stories, I felt I wanted to go back and reread most of them, as they are very understated and more complex than a first reading would indicate. LoGaW seemed more straightforward in a way ... the young life of a girl growing up in provincial Ontario in the years immediately following WW2, when social and sexual mores for young women were very limited and limiting. Del is a br...more
Greg Zimmerman
Reading outside a comfort zone doesn't get much more outside a comfort zone than Alice Munro's Lives of Girls and Women was for me. But this is a perfect case study for why reading outside a comfort zone is almost always a good thing. This is a phenomenal book, and I'm surprised it's not more widely read.

Alice Munro won the Nobel Prize in Literature this year, and since over the last two years or so, I've been reading a ton more short stories (sad to think what I'd been missing all these years b...more
David Paradis
Structurally, each chapter ends with a conclusion, rather than leading on to the next chapter. The chapters are self-contained units. Any one of them could stand alone. When I’d finish a chapter I wouldn’t feel propelled toward the next (as I am in, say, Chekhov’s wonderful short novel The Duel, where you have to read the entire novel for it to have meaning). To me, Lives of Girls and Women reads like a sequence of short stories—connected by the same narrator writing about various chapters in he...more
A novel made up of small, fragmentary stories, like photographs. Sneak-peeks into someone else’s life.

Munro describes those ordinary, dull aspects of life, and somehow makes them interesting, thought-provoking and mildly bizarre.

It’s depressing, to be honest. Recognizing people you have met in her characters - losers and freaks and idiots, your own parents, your own impatient, starving teenage self. The prose flows seamlessly, it’s easy to become immersed and read for hours straight.

It’s very...more
Sudheendra Chaitanya
Exquisite observation and candid insight mark Alice Munro's sketch of a girl's life growing up in rural Canada. Really a delight to taste such daily revelations. Nothing truly spectacular about the character, nor about the story. It was probably never meant to be. But, that daily life could be observed so well, and in such wonderful flashes, would be a shocking revelation to most. Quality of writing is 5 star. That she chose to write about normal daily things rather than erect a spectacular stor...more
I have very mixed feelings about this book......I went through pages of liking it, not liking it, really liking it, and really NOT liking it. Hence, two and a half stars.
The writing is marvelous and it is evident that Alice Munro has a natural talent with words. However, I just couldn't get into the story. We follow the teen years of Del Jordan, in the small town of Jubilee, Ontario in the 1940's right after WWII. I had trouble relating to any of the characters and didn't especially care for any...more
This book is lovely, lovely, lovely. Everything feels immediate and true and the coming of age stuff is totally on point. There are little bits of growing up in here I swear I've never seen tackled in any novel. Seriously, big kudos to Munro for pulling off something that feels so fresh out of such well traveled material.

I think this is Munro's only novel, and even this feels like a series of short stories about one girl, her mother, and the women that surround her in her rural Ontario town. Des...more
Jeffrey Hart
Excellent writing in this novel by Alice Munro about the coming of age of a girl/woman in Ontario. She lives at first on a silver fox farm in the countryside but later moves with her mother to a nearby town. Her mother is an independent thinker who is trying to better herself and her family. While she is off selling encyclopedias to farmers, the daughter gets into various kinds of mischief. Very clear-eyed descriptions of what it is like to grow up in such an environment. I will be reading her c...more
I read this novel over 13 years ago for a book group but had virtually no recollection of it. Reading it again now I think I can see why, and it is similar to the reason why a tune or song might resonate with you at one point in your life but not another. Munro's stories are often delicate, even when they deal with indelicate matters like suicide, domestic violence, and the like, because her characters are carefully drawn, without ostentation. Their all-too-humanness speaks through their actions...more
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Alice Ann Munro, née Laidlaw, is a Canadian short-story writer who is widely considered one of the world's premier fiction writers. Munro is a three-time winner of Canada's Governor General's Award for fiction. Her stories focus on human relationships looked at through the lens of daily life. She has thus been referred to as "the Canadian Chekhov."

She is the winner of the 2013 Nobel Prize in Liter...more
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“His face contained for me all possibilities of fierceness and sweetness, pride and submissiveness, violence, self-containment. I never saw more in it than I had when I saw it first, because I saw everything then. The whole thing in him that I was going to love, and never catch or explain.” 59 likes
“People’s lives, in Jubilee as elsewhere, were dull, simple, amazing, and unfathomable – deep caves paved with kitchen linoleum.” 34 likes
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