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The View from Castle Rock

3.7 of 5 stars 3.70  ·  rating details  ·  3,055 ratings  ·  423 reviews
**Winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature**

The world's finest living short story writer turns to her family for inspiration; and what follows is a fictionalised, brilliantly imagined version of the past. From her ancestors' view from Edinburgh's Catle Rock in the eighteenth century to her parents' thwarted ambitions in Ontario, and her own awakening in 1950s Canada, Munro
Paperback, 351 pages
Published September 6th 2007 by Vintage (first published 2006)
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In the dozen-odd collections of short stories she has published, Canadian writer Alice Munro has often mantained an element of autobiography. Her characters rarely stray beyond the borders of the rural Huron County, Canada, where the writer grew up and where she maintains a country home. There, they strut and fret in domestic settings, until one of them, usually a teenaged girl, packs her bags in a fit of self-determination and leaves to discover the rest of the world.

In what is reportedly her l
I think this is my new favorite Alice Munro collection. Usually in her collections--in all collections of stories--there's a clunker or two, stories that seem to be there merely to fill out the book. Not so in this one. It's solid all the way through.

This book reminds me a bit of Munro's book The Beggar Maid, which is pretty close to a novel in that it follows a single character's life through a series of stories, from childhood to middle age. This one extends the reach of the narratives on eith
Sepide zandifar
آلیس مونرو –نویسنده ی کانادایی- از بهترین نویسندگان داستانهای کوتاه است.داستانهای او بر شرایط و روابط روزمره ی زندگی انسانی متمرکز است.او علاوه بر پرداختن به مفاهیم کلی,به جزئیات رفتارهای متقابل بین شخصیتهای داستان را نیز بصورت قابل تعمق و هنرمندانه می پردازد.طرح داستان برای مونرو در درجه ی دوم اهمیت قرار دارد و رویدادهای داستان اندک هستند.آنچه برای او مهم است,موقعیتهای احساسی آنی شخصیتهای داستانهایش هستند و هم از این نظر و هم از نظر شخصیت پردازی کم نظیرش در مورد هر یک از شخصیتهای داستان ,به "آن ...more
Mar 31, 2015 Seemita rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Seemita by: Ankit
There is a picture on the wall,
Dipped in a colorful pall,
Drop of smoke drips about
And the canvas speaks aloud.

Bunch of heads, small and big,
Bodies, bountiful and frail;
Walk into the others' world
Lighting up a shiny trail.

Days lived in the sunny cavern,
Nights held in the dreams, forlorn,
Flossed emotions in the heart,
Family that grows never apart;

Strangers sparkle at the eyes’ edge,
Enlivening the mighty illusions,
Which is the bliss of nostalgia
And the unformed reunions.

All words that explain the w
This was my first Alice Munro book, and I approached through a fog of reviews that were running out of accolades "the best fiction writer now working in North America" "a sculptor of the human condition: nothing more and nothing less than an artist." "One of the great storytellers of our time, descended from a line going back to Chekhov and Katherine Mansfield....."

Oh dear. Obviously due to my own ineptitude, I was unable to grasp much of this at all. For the most part I found this book boring,
Fulgente armonia
Con “La vista da Castle Rock” Alice Munro ci consegna un’opera alquanto singolare: una serie di racconti legati tra loro da un fil rouge che li rende quasi un romanzo e, dal punto di vista tematico, una storia familiare che si evolve in memoir.
La prima parte del libro ricostruisce, attraverso documenti storici e testimonianze private, le vicende del ramo paterno della famiglia dell’autrice (i Laidlaw) a partire dal 18 secolo, con il racconto del viaggio per mare dalla miseria del
Tecnicamente non lo si può definire un pastiche, ma ne richiama il tono. Una raccolta di scritti in cui si mischiano appunti documentali, ricerche, diario e invenzione narrativa. Racconto. Il passo levigato della Munro carpisce la lettura. Avvolge. Accompagna nella Storia. Lo fa senza creare sussulti, né ansia cronologica, restituendo il piacere dell'ascolto sereno; dell'evasione. Si salta indietro; s'incontrano personaggi; si torna a un presente prossimo, o appena trascorso. Chiuso il libro, al ...more

Marin Preda, a great Romanian author, declared once in an interview, speaking of his most famous character: “Ilie Moromete, who really existed, was my father.” I’ve always used this quote as an example for my students of how writers like to maintain a deliberate confusion between fiction and reality.

In her Foreword of The View from Castle Rock, Alice Munro is even more ambiguous. After informing the reader that there is an historical truth behind her stories, she emphasizes the word stories as
KL Dilley
I haven't read Alice Munro in years, so am really happy to have stumbled across this book at the library. I've just started it but it has a really different structure then her usual writing. She is incredible at turning what seems to be an ordinary scenario onto its head. She is dark, and sincere and wonderfully observant. It has a feeling of being consistently pulled deeper in, she lets you glide along and then pulls, then repeats.

OK I finished this book now, the library wanted it back. I have
Alice Munro has single-handedly cured me of my irrational fear of the short story. Her writing is wonderful, her characters relatable and her plots are so poignant that they really only make sense as short fiction. I adore her writing. The View From Castle Rock is different in that it's a family memoir rather than a collection of short stories. It's also a lot more personal, with Munro not only laying bare her roots but using her own childhood for a book. That doesn't mean her writing hasn't alw ...more
Philip Zyg
A fascinating experiment, comparing your personal life with that of your ancestors who first set foot on the American soil: this is what Ms Munro does in this book and the result is excellent. She doesn't risk unnecessary parallelisms between the XVIIIth century and the XXth, she just puts the two "histories" side by side to see what comes out. The reader is free to draw any conclusions (if any are to be drawn) or simply enjoy the narrations. No, says Munro, the past doesn't always explain the p ...more
Stine Holt
The View from Castle Rock snød mig godt og grundigt, men på den gode måde. Her troede jeg, at jeg havde fået fingrene i en novellesamling, som var knivskarp, provokerende på flere planer og et pragteksemplar på litterær nytænkning - hvor jeg efter de første 40 sider måbende måtte indse, at disse livskapitler var så langt fra at være plotbaserede, som man overhovedet kan komme. Jeg bed skuffelsen i mig og læste videre; eftersom værket er en Man Booker Prize vinder, måtte der jo være et eller ande ...more
Munro says with emphasis, ‘These are stories.’ But, this collection is the closest one could imagine short stories come to a memoir. Sure, Munro can’t help herself and adds some unusual events to spice her narration up and to make the mundane and anticlimactic more dramatic. She does it in the same way she made her boring summer job as a maid much more dramatic than it really was in her letter to a friend in her short story, ‘Hired Girl’, and she calls everything short stories. The story of her ...more
Oleg Kagan
I may be wrong, but I suspect that it's a fact that local and family history is only interesting to those related to the family or the place, or the off-chance researcher digging for facts. This was the problem for the first and last few stories in this collection. The multiple narrators describing what is ostensibly a fictionalized account of the Munro's ancestors' migration from Scotland to North America was often unfocused and confusing. The geographical and geologic descriptions of places an ...more
Josephine Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious
Billed as a collection of stories, spanning the centuries, connecting storytellers to writers, The View from Castle Rock is, as one reviewer stated, "a delightful fraud." It's a memoir, fleshed out with fiction but based heavily on Alice Munro's family stories, starting with Will O'Phaup, star of rumor and myth and proceeding with his descendents as a character study of all the family members who came across the ocean. Those Laidlaws and O'Phaups who wrote and were written about. The Ettick Vall ...more
It may just be the point I am in life, but I have been enjoying memiors of late. Reflections on family history. This is a collection of memories, family history cobbled together in short story format. It must have been facinating to research and reflect. Alice Munro is a bit older than I, but I can relate to her family as we both have rustic Depression era roots. Hers in Canada, mine in Wisconsin. Both of us shared family immigration from greater Europe at the same time. Mine from Germany, hers ...more
This one doesn't speak to me as much as Alice Munro's other collections do, and I had so hoped it would, given that this one is so much more personal for her. Having said that, it still has its share of those moments that make you look up from the book, lost in reflection, and have to re-read a few lines to find your place after a minute or so of pondering. (This is a good thing.) I was reminded a lot of The Beggar Maid, since the stories are all linked in some way.

What always impresses me most
Kevin Fanning
I have tried in the past to get into Munro's short stories and have never been able to do it. So, either I'm older and wiser, or this hit me at just the right time, or it's different from her other work, but either way, I'm going to dig back in and read a lot more of her stories.

This book totally sails, no slow or clunky parts. It's creative non-fiction, part family history, part memoir, part fictional narrative. It's delicate and just achingly gorgeous in parts.

There is a lot of history for he
Mi piace la Munro quando scrive con spontaneità, comunicando sensazioni immediate ed emozioni fresche e condivisibili. È proprio la sua semplicità di immagini che sorprende e quindi ‘prende’, più che la sua scrittura in sé. E l’ho molto apprezzata, per tali motivi, nei racconti di Nemico, amico, amante e In fuga. Ma nell’ampio respiro di questa saga personale, pur encomiabile nell'intento, la storia ha perso a volte incisività, qualche collegamento ha scricchiolato e la continuità non ha tenuto. ...more
Alice Munro is a Nobel Laureate. Alice Munro needs no introduction. The View from Castle Rock is the first Alice Munro book that I have read, and while turning the pages, either at my lunch table or in bed before I switched off the lights, I felt as if Munro was narrating the tale directly to me. As if she wanted to share her story, and she had found a willing listener in me. I could sense her presence, however weird that may sound, and I am sure that these two reasons can explain this: a) The q ...more
Jean-Paul Walshaw-Sauter
In Alice Munro's collection of short stories entitled "The View from Castle Rock", she turns to her family's past as a source of inspiration and spins a web of fact laced with fiction: tracing her father's side of the family from their 18th century Scottish origins to their emigration to Canada. These are the first short stories I have read of the Nobel Prize laureate and I was deeply disappointed. I forced myself into finishing this collection, because of the high esteem in which she is held by ...more
Belatedly, I suppose, my first Alice Munro experience. I immediately took to her confident and beautiful writing, and how she strung the autobiographical vignettes together. I did find the array of characters in the beginning somewhat confusing to sort out; thereafter I enjoyed Munro's musings about the relationships of her parents and grandparents' generations. The stories are personal and moving; the pace slow and contemplative. My best parts were 'Lying Under the Apple Tree' and a paragraph a ...more
Elizabeth (Alaska)
The author has spent some time researching her family history, and what she learned was the basis for this interesting collection of stories. The first story is of her ancestor in Scotland, and this story is followed by an early crossing of the Atlantic from Scotland to Canada. I have learned a branch of my own family followed emigrated from Scotland to Canada at nearly the same period in history. The first section continues with a couple of stories of the settling of Ontario, all stories that m ...more
Jul 25, 2007 Sara rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Sandy
The book that finally made me love Alice Munro. The stories I'm trying to write. Seriously, I loved this so much. Part One is a series of stories commingling Munro's genealogical research about one part of her father's family and her story-telling about what their lives might have been. She weaves together information she claims to have learned with visits to graveyards and archives along with bits of diaries and stories about what happened to her ancestors. What's real, what isn't? It's impossi ...more
Bookmarks Magazine

Alice Munro's fans will find many familiar themes in this collection: father-daughter relationships, small-town repression, domestic work, discontented girls, and education. At the same time, Munro extends her craft deeper into her own past. Yet while she labels some parts historical-autobiographical, it's unclear just how many stories arise from personal experience, no matter how much depth each possesses. Perhaps it doesn't matter: Munro's particular talent lies in recreating art as life. If t

When I asked a colleague which Alice Munro book I should read first, he recommended this one to me. I started reading it two months ago, but it took me such a long time because of the dense style of the beginning of the novel, about the settlers who went to North America. When Munro gets around to the 20th century however, I was intrigued and I quickly finished the rest of the book. I love her style in the modern part of the novel. She writes subtly, vividly, letting you look closely at the main ...more
This was my first Munro book--saw it at a bargain book place right after she got the Pulitzer. I was immediately taken by this collection as it is related to her family, who came from Scotland to Canada as my own did. After reading the first story, I was online tracking my own kin! She explains that while the stories are tied here and there by bits of truth that she has found, she has also taken the liberty of fleshing out the stories of folks she never knew. From there she goes on to create sto ...more
CV Rick
I've been hearing about Alice Munro for a while and usually it's come with the recommendation, "you have to read The View from Castle Rock." So this week I read it, and I'm wondering, after page number 368, when is this book going to get good? But it was over. It's not that the book was bad - it just wasn't very good. It was a common immigrants coming to America, struggling with the changes, drama, tragedy and then settling in story. It's a common enough tale and it's been done many times, often ...more
Victor Gibson
I seemed to have started reviewing the wrong edition - not that it makes much difference I don't think. But this paperback was the right one, and like all of Alice Munro's stuff it is pretty readable, although I got mixed up with which generation she was telling the tale about at times. And even if it is true that her ancestors came from the lowlands of Scotland it is just a little bit irritating for we English that everyone on North America wants to be related to people from Scotland, or Irelan ...more
Miss Munro scoured her Scottish genealogy and spun the facts about all those uncles, aunts and grandparents into short stories. She inserts herself into the stories with phrases like "I remember . . ." or "Uncle James wrote a letter that said . . ." so they read a little more like a well-done history than a traditional exposition/complication/resolution story arc.

When she can get away from the "I remember"s, she keeps me turning the pages as the characters bob along on the ship to America, then
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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 about Alice Munro...

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“Not very long ago I was driving with my husband on the back roads of Grey County, which is to the north and east of Huron County. We passed a country store standing empty at a crossroads. It had old-fashioned store windows, with long narrow panes. Out in front there was a stand for gas pumps which weren't there anymore. Close beside it was a mound of sumac trees and strangling vines, into which all kinds of junk had been thrown. The sumacs jogged my memory and I looked back at the store. It seemed to me that I had been here once, and the the scene was connected with some disappointment or dismay. I knew that I had never driven this way before in my adult life and I did not think I could have come here as a child. It was too far from home. Most of our drives out of town where to my grandparents'house in Blyth--they had retired there after they sold the farm. And once a summer we drove to the lake at Goderich. But even as I was saying this to my husband I remembered the disappointment. Ice cream. Then I remembered everything--the trip my father and I had made to Muskoka in 1941, when my mother was already there, selling furs at the Pine Tree Hotel north of Gravehurst.” 3 likes
“I know how you love this place," he says to me, apologetically yet with satisfaction. And I don't tell him that I am not sure now whether I love any place, and that it seems to me it was myself I loved here - some self that I have finished with, and none too soon.” 0 likes
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