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The Progress of Love

4.12  ·  Rating details ·  2,973 ratings  ·  221 reviews

A divorced woman returns to her childhood home where she confronts the memory of her parents' confounding yet deep bond. The accidental near-drowning of a child exposes the fragility of the trust between children and parents. A young man, remembering a terrifying childhood incident, wrestles with the responsibility he has always
Paperback, 320 pages
Published December 12th 2000 by Vintage (first published 1986)
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Average rating 4.12  · 
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 ·  2,973 ratings  ·  221 reviews

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Aug 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Realistic observants
Shelves: read-in-2017
Munro portrays how marital and filial love evolves through generations as the role of men and women shifts following the waves of emancipation and economic independence.
A divorced woman returns to her childhood home and fragmented memories of the tense relationship between her mother and her grandparents frame the setting for her mother's predisposition to love the man she married forever. But at what cost? Faith seems to work when doubts arise for past generations, but it proves to be useless i
Dec 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
Alice Munro has been my favourite literary discovery of the year. This was my third book of hers. Another collection of short stories ( she's only written one novel). While I'd unreservedly recommend either of the other books I felt more lukewarm about this one. I felt she was a little short of inspiration for the most part and though every story is well written and has some points of interest none had the wow factor her other books had. It's not impossible my diminished enthusiasm is down to my ...more

Come with me, my love...

I’m an observer by nature. I guess you can say I like to watch. Birds. Bugs. Animals. Humans. The weather. I can sit in front of my bay window for hours watching a spider spin a web, a thunderstorm rolling in, a swarm of bees sipping nectar from my rhododendrons…

Alice Munro must be an observer by nature too, because her stories reveal her fascination with everyday life and everyday people. This particular collection focuses on rela
K.D. Absolutely
Aug 15, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to K.D. by: 501 Must Read Books
Shelves: 501, anthology
My first book by Alice Munro (born 1931) and oh my, she kicks ass!

What is it with female Canadian writers? I normally think twice before picking up any book by a female writer. This is not a sexist remark but most of them I tried hard to like them but they fell short of my expectations. Virginia Woolf will always be my favorite along with Dame Iris Murdoch. Then, I also enjoyed Surfacing by Margaret Atwood and Unless by Carol Shields. They are the first two female Canadian writers who both joine
I sometimes like to think of Alice Munro as a painter. In drawing her just so, I can consider that she must furnish the place she has made for her daily hours of work with these finely delineated and peculiarly detailed portraits of people who have never existed whole, but whom we have all met in part: people whose clothes and expressions we have worn, whose lives we have lived in, and into whose poses our own movement pours content.

Still, portraits are not her characteristic medium. Other than
Aug 01, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2011
Of the three collections I've read by Munro, I'd say this is arguably the weakest (the other two being Runaway and Open Secrets), but by any other standard, these are still utterly breathtaking stories. I suppose my two critiques would be that (a) this feels like cohesive as a collection in that each story seems only tangentially to tie back to a grander thematic thread; and (b) that there are two or three somewhat unmemorable stories. "Eskimo" and "Circle of Prayer" come to mind. Or rather, don ...more
Poorly written story with an uninteresting plot, limited character development, convoluted sentence structure and a pretty stupid ending. Pass.
Jan 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Stela by: Ginny_1807
Given that I have already reviewed three of Alice Munro’s books (Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage - the best of all to date, in my humble opinion, Runaway and The View from Castle Rock) and given that the eleven short-stories in The Progression of Love develop similar themes and motives (in the same unique style, of course) such as love, loneliness, bigotry, family, etc., by using her well-known narrative tools (broken timeline, subtle irony, free indirect style etc.), I decid ...more
Nov 12, 2013 rated it it was ok
I guess Alice Munro is a good writer. I'll probably read something else by her but in a more distant future.
I struggled with this book. Everything seemed to be right, yet every time I was picking it up, I was wincing. I was wading through it, I was procrastinating, I was looking for excuses to drop it. I wanted it to end.
I found it depressive although I have read far sadder books but their tone of sadness was understandable whereas this one was not. It was not that kind of suffering that leads t
Trishita (TrishReviews_ByTheBook)
I look for emotional connection/resonance with the books I read, if not in its overarching scope, at least in some limited narrative capacity. While my last reading of Alice Munro (Dear Life) was great, I remained a touch untouched by it. This one, however, was phenomenal; a stirring whirlwind of stories with stunning portrayals of the interior worlds of those (mostly women) who live an inward kind of life; and in terms of short collections, it’s now right alongside my best ever.

As the title say
Poornima Vijayan
Alice Munro is the absolute queen of short stories. Each story is a micro universe of emotions. Gorgeous.
Picked this book because of the tag saying " Winner of the Nobel prize in Literature 2013" thought I would be blown away. Sadly reading the first five stories I am disappointed. Found it a bit mundane. The stories in my opinion have the same sort of characters. For example a trucker who sort of abandons his family and goes to the Arctic to work in oil rigs. I encountered this character in two short stories so far. And the wife who brings up two boys all by her own.

Reading this book now has beco
Jan 10, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: couldn-t-finish
I'm sorry but I thought it was OK. Clearly based upon other reviews and awards I am in the minority. But these stories are just sketches of situations that don't really "say" anything. I never know quite what the message is or what I'm supposed to take away from it. This is "abstract" is beautifully written but I just need more. ...more
Mar 26, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: short-stories
1993 notebook:
Dear Alice Munro,
this is a fan letter. I was reading your stories in 'The Progress of Love' commuting - 1 story there, 1 story back. I catch a train - 12 pages, a walk across the city, then a bus - 10 pages. Today was 'Miles City, Montana' there, 'Fits' back. Fine, fine stories, heartstopping; the latter, especially the last 2 pages with its walk on snow over fences and its revelation, made me high. Expand with knowledge, insight. On a bus in Birmingham (UK) your stories on my lap
Sep 02, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I quite enjoyed this book about the ebbs and flows of love of family, partners, and friends. I found many of the short stories started slow and not particularly interesting, but by the half way point or so of each story I almost always found myself intrigued on how the story was unfolding and finding out how it will end. Munro's undoubtedly skilled at writing complex stories about the commonplace, and her ability to contemplate motivations and inner worlds is a pleasure to read. ...more
Naleendra Weerapitiya
Jan 06, 2021 rated it it was amazing
December is my usual date with that sweet old lady from Ontario, Canada, Ms. Alice Munro. Since am on a sequential reading of her works, I read "The Progress of Love" (1986), in December 2020, as one of the last books of the year.

The collection gets underway with the title short story, and it is a vivid illustration of the changing face of Canada, as how the average person lived it. The differences in how one views religion, relationships, even money over a period of 40-50 years has changed. The
Persephone Abbott
Oct 06, 2012 rated it really liked it
A reviewer remarked that it took more time to read these short stories than it did generally to read a novel. I can understand this statement because the stories are quite compact, really a very delightful trait, and do require some attention to the details to fully enter into the narrative. I deeply admire the choices of names and places that immediately made me believe the setting of the stories. The use of timelines is excellently manipulated yet graceful. The stories are of love; of simply w ...more
Oct 01, 2014 rated it it was ok
Nice collection of short stories, rather early work by Munro. Of course not everything was of the same level, but Munro is a master in the description of human emotions, especially with people that experience changes in their live.

Jun 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, 2019
A very enjoyable read. The depth of her characters and the details of the story introduced me into a world which I didn’t want to leave by the end of each story. I wanted to linger in there for a while longer and find out more about the people inhabiting her worlds.
David M
May 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing
The title story. Damn.
Apr 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
I liked these quietly told, understated, stories about mostly quiet people. We learn what people have lived through and what they have done. How does Alice Munro make it all so interesting? She really knows how to write a short story. I especially notice the mastery of pacing and the order in which each thing is told. Some of the passages I liked:

The Progress of Love
page 4 My mother prayed on her knees at midday, at night, and first thing in the morning. Every day opened up to her to have God's
Andy Miller
Apr 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is one of the earlier, collections of Alice Munro stories, they were written in 1985 and 1986. So they don't have as much of the older person's reflections on a full life that her later stories had and because these were not the earliest stories, there aren't as many that recall her childhood, but they have the attributes of all Alice Munro stories, nuanced characters with interesting outlooks on life with wry sentences tying things together that only Munro can write.
For example, in the tit
Jan 13, 2020 rated it liked it
This book, about the small moments between the large ones, has some very strong stories and some weak ones. Many of the stories had me in their grasps, while others left me craving more.
Dec 12, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This collection was a different from the Lives of Girls and Women in that the stories were not connected by characters at all. They are merely set in the same geographical region and thus share the way people interact with their surroundings. However, each story is beautiful in its own right, with some more memorable than others. Munro is really skilled at piercing what is seemingly mundane and breaking the skin of our dullest moments to expose the profound and fickle tendencies of our nature. A ...more
Mar 13, 2010 rated it really liked it
Very subjective reactions here. This book gave me a new appreciation for Munro. I'm now going to go and reread all the books of hers I've already finished, and get through the ones I haven't read yet. Wonderful stories! I love the glancing incidental bits and how they contribute to the overall structure of each story, or of the collection as a whole. They're so gracefully constructed that I'd have to sit around much longer to ponder the construction in order to explain just what I like about the ...more
Julieann Wielga
Sep 07, 2011 rated it really liked it
Alice Munro is stellar. I read these stories selfishly. I read them as what it means to be a woman passing through from childhood, to motherhood, to the stages beyond. When I talk with my friends about Munro, many have said that her stories are marked by instances of the bizarre, almost invoking Raymond Carver or Flannery O'Connor. But for me those moments of the terrible is not what precipitated from the story,instead what crystalized for me was the passages from one part of lives to the next. ...more
Dec 27, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: lovers of good craft
Shelves: short-stories
I don't know how she does it. But she does, time after time. Alice Munro is so damn good at making up these beautiful understated worlds. When you look under the surface, nothing about them is ordinary at all. Hundreds of beautiful stories in her arsenal, and she's still going. She's my hero, pretty much.

But enough of that. I love this collection above many of her collections because there's something subtle linking these stories. They're mostly about middle-aged women, whose plans have been sha
Istvan Zoltan
Jun 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
Insightful, intimate, and very sensitive novels. They deal mostly with the lives of families: how relations develop and change; with how complex and multi-dimensional marriages, parent-child, and sibling relations can become.
One of the many literary achievements of the book was how effortlessly Munro could write both from a first person perspective as well as from that of a more distanced narrator's. And the voices in the stories are fairly unique, which is not always the case with stories of ot
Anindita Satpathi
Oct 03, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
While The Progress of Love is lovely, Friend of my Youth seemed more intimate. In typical Munro style, the characters are divinely sketched, in even grittier detail than usual, if possible. Gnarled feelings, contorted intentions and uncomfortable relations abound. Her stories, refreshingly, have very little space for self-pity, crowded as they are with the bric-a-brac of daily routine. Lichen started beautifully but petered off towards the end and Fits seemed to have been left open-ended just fo ...more
Mar 20, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014
Completely subjective rating. The second half of this collection, after the excellent "Jesse and Meribeth," failed to resonate with me. I will never be one to argue with Alice Munro's mastery of the short story, but occasionally I get bored of somber elegance. This was just one of those times.

My favorite story in the collection is probably "Lichen" (and the most interestingly bizarre thing in the collection is the reason that particular story is named as it is).
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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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