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Lives of Girls and Women

3.99  ·  Rating details ·  10,036 ratings  ·  753 reviews
Lives of Girls and Women is the intensely readable, touching, and very funny story of Del Jordan, a young woman who journeys from the carelessness of childhood through an uneasy adolescence in search of love and sexual experience.

As Del dreams of becoming famous, suffers embarrassment about her mother, endures the humiliation of her body's insistent desires, and tri
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Paperback, 236 pages
Published June 24th 2005 by Penguin Canada (first published 1971)
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Amardip It is fiction so can't be a memoir. It is autobiographical in form but not fact.
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Average rating 3.99  · 
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 ·  10,036 ratings  ·  753 reviews


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Cecily
This is my favourite sort of novel: writing that is acute, astute, and beautiful, sugaring deeper questions and messages that take time to ferment and mature.

All weekend thought of him stayed in my mind like a circus net spread underneath whatever I had to think about... I was constantly letting go and tumbling into it.
I felt similarly about Del Jordan, though for completely different reasons.

This is my first encounter with Munro, and it’s her only novel. It is not far removed from sho“All
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Dolors
Oct 14, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Don't shrink, expand your horizons.
Recommended to Dolors by: Greg
Shelves: read-in-2015
Straddling two genres, "Lives of Girls and Women" features eight seemingly disjointed snapshots of daily life in Jubilee, a rural town in Ontario, seen through the eyes of Del Jordan, a feisty girl on the threshold of adolescence, that build on the common theme of women swimming against the backdraught of societal indoctrination towards rightful emancipation.

Munro's prose is spare but not scanty. She skips major episodes in Del's life in favor of extended descriptions of the details that really
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Joe Valdez
May 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction-general
My introduction to Alice Munro is Lives of Girls and Women and what a sensory feast this is. Published in 1971, it could qualify as a short story collection for some, a novel for others; the seven titled chapters capable of being read out of order and standing alone as short stories, but all narrated by the same character, teenager Del Jordan as she grows up in the (fictional) southern Ontario town of Jubilee in the 1940s. Under the supervision of her mother Ada, Del determines whether her ideal is a ...more
Candi
"What was a normal life? It was the life of the girls in the creamery office, it was showers, linen and pots and pans and silverware, that complicated feminine order; then, turning it over, it was the life of the Gay-la Dance Hall, driving drunk at night along the black roads, listening to men's jokes, putting up with and warily fighting with men and getting hold of them, getting hold – one side of that life could not exist without the other, and by undertaking and getting used to them both a gi ...more
Garima
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
Robin
“There is a change coming in the lives of girls and women ... All women have had up till now has been their connection with men.”

This is the theme threaded through this wonderful 1971 coming-of-age novel. A bit of a shame it's Alice Munro's only novel. She is well known for her mastery of the short story, but that is not where her talent begins and ends.

Set in a small southern Ontario town, this story centres on the growing up years of Del Jordan, a smart and perceptive girl who has one boot in he
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Raul Bimenyimana
I gave myself two days to settle with this book before even attempting a review. Two days of thinking and reflecting and confirming the marvel that is this book. As one can tell from the title of the book, Munro focuses on the relationships between girls and women in this book and each chapter marked a new development for Del, the protagonist of this story.

Del is a precocious girl living first at the outskirts and then in the poor small town of Jubilee, Canada. Her mother writes in t
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Caterina
Alice Munro: Subversive Autobiographer of Everywoman

People’s lives, in Jubilee as elsewhere, were dull, simple, amazing, and unfathomable – deep caves paved with kitchen linoleum.

In my review of Runaway I wrote Alice Munro has such uncanny insight into people's interior lives and subtle interpersonal dynamics, it's almost indecent. This, my third by Munro, seemed at first different, gentler. But no. Just, maybe, stealthier. Like one of those wasps that lays its eggs inside another creature. Although the details of my life/>People’s
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Hugh
Feb 02, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2018, modern-lit
I was a little surprised by the claim on the blurb of this book that this is Munro's only novel, if only because to me its structure is very similar to that of the only other Munro book I have read, The Beggar Maid. In both cases a story is told in episodes each of which could work as a short story or novella, but the whole adds up to something more like a novel.

Once again Munro writes beautifully and perceptively about fairly humdrum subjects, this time the childhood and rites of passage
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Cynthia Paschen
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
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Mary
Oct 18, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016, fiction
“There is a change coming I think in the lives of girls and women. Yes. But it is up to us to make it come. All women have had up till now has been their connection with men. All we have had. No more lives of our own, really, than domestic animals. He shall hold thee, when his passion shall have spent its novel force, a little closer than his dog, a little dearer than his horse. Tennyson wrote that. It’s true. Was true. You will want to have children, though.”
That’s how much she knew me.
Laysee
Nov 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: five-star-books
Lives of Girls and Women: A Novel is the only novel by Canadian author, Alice Munro. It is an impressively clear-eyed portrayal of life in rural Ontario in the 1940s. The social complexities women encounter in that era are revealed with astounding literary and emotional depth. There are lines I read and re-read for their transparency in nailing a subtle emotion or distilling an epiphanic moment, marveling at how elegantly and perceptively Munro gave expression to the unutterable.

The story
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Jeanette
Sep 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Superlative. And her only novel? As much as I loved her short stories, and I've read about 1/2, this novel is BETTER. Magnificent. Do not read this review if you want no spoilers. The book is marvelous for Del in girlhood but it is BETTER for her last years of high school. And it is too central to more than a glancing review here not to climb the pinnacles of this 1971 written work. Most seemed to have ignored some of its crux. Core crux.

It's more than just a coming of age story, it'
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kate
Feb 11, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
notgettingenough
A goodreads statistic. Exactly one of my friends on that site has made a comment about this book - and she hasn't read it yet.

Alice Munro is a Nobel Prize winner.

She is no Chekhov.

Despite that, I think her books will stand the test of time, but they are not easy things to review. There is nothing to pillory. There is no technique to make her temporarily modern. I don't spot anything in her style that will prematurely date her, in the way I feel Welty's does to hers. And
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Elizabeth (Alaska)
The GR members who have shelved this as "coming of age" knew more about this novel than did I and it is a perfect description. I don't usually like such stories - are they usually about boys? This is the story of a girl, about 10 or so when the story opens. In high school, she is nerdy and awkward. She longs to know about boys, to know what it is to be admired, to know about sex.

Del's mother, for the times especially (by now post-war), is an enlightened woman.
"There is a change coming I think
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Bonnie
Aug 14, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love everything Alice Munro writes, but this one has to be one of my favourites.
Jennifer
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 f
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Alena
Jul 28, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
While unquestioningly a novel, the book retains the short-story format for which Alice Munro is so well known. In fact, this is her only full length novel; published in 1971, it’s been languishing on my TBR for years until a BINGO book challenge inspired me to finally read it.

This book easily could have been published in 2019. Its coming of age in a small town themes are universal and Munro’s writing gets right to the heart of what it means to be a girl and a woman. It’s complex and darkl
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Donna
Feb 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

I am in Ontario for 2 weeks, but not in the part Alice Munro set this book. However, I cannot get CBC today. It sounds out of range which is impossible. I might as well be in Munro country where people don't ever want to appear to be showing off. And this is a tough mission. A lot of things count as showing off in Ontario. I'm from Montreal which means I'm not from Ontario. That's showing off. Though for some reason, being from Toronto would be even worse.
Alice Munro never shows off. She never
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Knucklefish
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
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Braden
Mar 01, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
These characters! Painted with such humor and subtlety...love 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 sustai
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Scout
Apr 10, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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Dawn
Sep 13, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I've enjoyed every Munro book I have read...... until now.

I don't know if it's because it was a 'novel', but which still felt like a group of short stories - snapshots at random points in time. Or maybe it was because I couldn't relate to 'Del' at all. The writing is superb of course, with some poignant insights - which is probably why I finished it; I just didn't like any of the characters, although I enjoyed the first part more than the second.

I shall still read more of her short
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McKenzie
Mar 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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 most n ...more
Troy
Mar 27, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2010
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
Krista
Feb 17, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I really didn't like this book. I started and stopped it several times, and finally decided I was just going to push through it. I almost wish I hadn't. Without a doubt, Munro is a superb writer. Several times, I would pause at a sentence, and think about what a masterful observation it was. But as for a storyteller, there just wasn't much here, and what was here wasn't compelling. Even the description on this page sounds much more interesting than the book actually is. And as a woman reading a ...more
Amy Meyer
Apr 21, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Title: Lives of Girls and Women
Author: Alice Munro
ISBN: 978-0375707490
Pages: 288
Release Date: February 13, 2001
Publisher: Vintage
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Book Summary: Lives of Girls and Women 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 younge/>Book/>/>/>/>Release/>/>/>
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Melissa
Despite my long reading time with this one, personal and various delays, I really loved this book. It’s a complete story, told through various sections of a young girl’s life, growing up and coming of age in rural Canada during the depression, and specifically the women in her life that influenced her as she grew into a woman herself. A bunch of characters come in and out of focus over the years, and at first as various stereotypes, maiden aunts for instance, but all the characters are so much m ...more
Lollita
Jan 01, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: canadian
well written but not my cup of tea I was bored more often than not and as thing did happen within the plot I felt like I came away with nothing.
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4,263 followers
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 i
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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.” 82 likes
“People’s lives, in Jubilee as elsewhere, were dull, simple, amazing, and unfathomable – deep caves paved with kitchen linoleum.” 74 likes
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