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Lives of Girls and Women

3.98  ·  Rating details ·  10,972 ratings  ·  843 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 tries desp
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 3.98  · 
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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 short stor
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
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 ...more
"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
Nov 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"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."

A first person narrative from the perspective of a young girl growing up in a rural region of Canada. The mother has intellectual aspirations; the father is a fox fur farmer and very much of the soil. The narrative begins in the middle of the second world war.

The massive stand out feature of this novel is quite simply the stunning quality of the writing. That and the
“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 i
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
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 the paper and
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. Alth
Nov 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book by Alice Munro! I have previously read two other books by the author, and I can’t say that either enthralled me. This is her only novel and I thought it was perfect!!
The time frame is post WWII- late 40’s to early 50’s. Del is growing up in small town Ontario. (As the author did). I did not grow up in that period, but I remember being a teenage girl with weighty thoughts of the world. Del explores/ reflects on her mother, religion, boys and sex.

“What was a normal life.”

In small
Oh, the coming of age/sexual awakening novel. We just can’t get enough of that, can we? Probably because we’ve all been there, and I think we love to make ourselves cringe reading about how other people lived it. We relate, we try not to judge, we silently thank god we don’t have to go through that again…

Alice Munro’s only novel made me smile, and it made me grateful I didn’t come of age in the 50s in rural Ontario. Del’s story is as familiar as can be: she is smart and awkward, her parents emba
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 is tol
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 of a g
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 part of her never
Connie G
"Her concern about my life, which I needed and took for granted, I could not bear to have expressed. . . . Advice that assumed being female made you damageable, that a certain amount of carefulness and solemn fuss and self-protection were called for, whereas men were supposed to be able to go out and take on all kinds of experiences and shuck off what they didn't want and come back proud. Without even thinking about it, I had decided to do the same."

In "Lives of Girls and Women" Del Jordan tells
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's the story
Oct 18, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, 2016
“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.
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.
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 she has that sameness ab
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
Sep 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“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.”
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.
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
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
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 darkly funny
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
It has been a while since I don't write a review but I really loved this coming-of-age novel and made me feel almost obliged to leave a personal impression. Lives of Girls and Women is a short novel by the brilliant Alice Munro. And I say brilliant because she has such a talent to write about the ordinary events of every day life into the most unforgettable moments that tend to leave a indelible print in our hearts for the rest of our lives. I am talking about those memories that as an adult mak ...more
Mar 01, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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 much of my
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
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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

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