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The View from Castle Rock

3.69  ·  Rating details ·  4,862 ratings  ·  638 reviews
A powerful new collection from one of our most beloved, admired, and honored writers.

In stories that are more personal than any that she’s written before, Alice Munro pieces her family’s history into gloriously imagined fiction. A young boy is taken to Edinburgh’s Castle Rock, where his father assures him that on a clear day he can see America, and he catches a glimpse of
Hardcover, 349 pages
Published November 7th 2006 by Alfred A. Knopf (first published 2006)
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Average rating 3.69  · 
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Connie G
Jan 27, 2021 rated it really liked it
Title Story Only

"America. . . There is where every man is sitting in the midst of his own properties and even the beggers is riding around in carriages. So there you are, my lad, and God grant that one day you will see it closer, and I will myself, if I live."

"The View From Castle Rock" shows the excitement and hardship of a family leaving their home in Scotland to search for better opportunities in Canada, and fulfill a father's dream. Eventually, the family crossed the Atlantic to Nova Scotia.
Jul 22, 2017 rated it it was ok
And disappointingly so.
If you went to college or have read any book reviews in the last 20 years, then you KNOW Alice Munro's work is one of the canons of modern literature (because all your big-brained English teachers say so)....these stories jut fall flat, never ripening into the colorful, fully fledged narratives that one might expect from someone who's won every lit prize known to man.
The stories in "Castle Rock" are based on Munro's own ancestors in Scotland and their journey to Am
Jul 09, 2018 rated it liked it
Free online link to the one short story The View from Castle Rock:

The emigration voyage of one family over the sea from Scotland to Nova Scotia, Canada. The year is 1918. A husband and pregnant wife, their young son, an elderly father and a brother and sister. It is the trip itself that is the focal point. The emotions and thoughts of each come through well. Fears, hopes and expectations are palpable. Use of the Scottish brogue makes the telling feel authe
Jul 19, 2012 rated it did not like it
Shelves: novels
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,
Berit Lundqvist
Dec 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018
Alice Munro follows her ancestors from Scotland, the old country, to North America. The stories she tells are partly true, partly made up. Munro has studied old documents, both in Scotland, and in Canada. From the persons she found in them, she has cut out the paper-doll figures she wanted her ancestors to be.

The last part of the book is about Alice Munro herself. How she grew up on a fox farm (!) in Ontario, restricted by the unwritten rules of the countryside. Know your place. Don't waste your
May 01, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
Mar 13, 2015 rated it really liked it
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
Lori (on vacation) Keeton
This review is for the title story only.
The View from Castle Rock is a short story by Alice Munro. In the early part of the 19th century, a family boards a ship for the very first time. They spend 6 weeks aboard and each person’s personality and desires come to life. This family is making their way to a new life in Nova Scotia from Scotland. Old James has dreamed of this opportunity without realizing what he will actually miss from his Scottish home. He spends the entire trip telling everyone he
Fatma Al Zahraa Yehia
I found difficulty in reading this book from the beginning. So I flipped through it looking for something that might grab my attention. Having almost all that Munro wrote, I found that this collection is the least I was interested to read.
So, I will highlight the three stories that I liked in that collection.

1) The hired girl
Munro explores how a seventeen years old girl dealt alone with a world that is superior to her. As degradation of her financial status, the narrator had to work as a maid.
Josephine (biblioseph)
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
George K. Ilsley
My interest in this book was stronger in the first half, but petered out a little. The closing stories are personal, and sweet, and offer a glimpse into the mind and world of Alice Munro (which is certainly a priceless gift), but they do not measure up to the compression and depth in her works of pure fiction.

Fans of Alice Munro will love this book, because Alice is easy to love, but fans of her short fiction might not be universally impressed.
Moshe Mikanovsky
Sep 14, 2018 rated it did not like it
Disappointing. Not what you would expect from the queen of short stories. If this is the first Munro you pick up, do yourself a favour and put it down. Pick another.

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
Jul 06, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
Philip Zyg
Dec 18, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Is it possible that this is my first Alice Munro? Yes, I believe that it is. In fact, though I've known the name for a long time, when her name came up in conversation a couple months ago as someone I should read, I first wrote it down in my notebook as "Alice Monroe" because it didn't click initially for me. Stellar.

This book was primarily recommended because Family History. It's technically fiction, but my mentor thought it would be good for me to read it and see how someone writes about famil
Sep 02, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Sep 17, 2021 rated it liked it
3.5 stars. An interesting, unique novel that reads like a memoir. The author writes about her grandparents, the Laidlaws, the family moving to Illinois, her parents farming failure in Ontario and the author’s working to make a living.

In the foreword the author writes that the stories ‘were not memoirs but they were closer to my own life than the other stories I have written, even in the first person.’ Alice Munro was exploring her own life but not in a rigorously factual way.

Readers new to Alice
Jul 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
I only read the one title short story, but really enjoyed it. Thanks to Chrissie for posting the link.

This a true slice of life. We see a family's voyage, by ship, from Scotland to Nova Scotia. There are the different classes of passengers and even the different type of person in the family.

One of my favorite things about shorts is that the author can give you a glimpse, almost a Polaroid, of an event or time of life without the baggage of explaining everything. Justifying. Building a foundation
I'm actually glad this has been I mandatory read. Although I would have never picked a book like this on my own, I'm happy I have added this to my collection now.

Because the book is a collection of short stories I could read a story at a time, which made this a real page turner. One story equalled one bus ride to school, so the easiness of combining reading with travelling, made for a quick first read-through.

Part 1 was a bit of a struggle for me, but I can appreciate the way Alice has written.
Steve Middendorf
Jul 27, 2020 rated it really liked it
Although this is called a collection of stories, there is a progression through time of an family emigration saga from the late 1800's in Scotland to North America in the 50's Each story has a very slightly different tone but to my mind it could be called a novel. It is plain. It is ordinary. It is midwestern. Its characters are mundane, unremarkable, ordinary human beings. They work hard, scratch out a living, save a penny or two and do the best for them and theirs. They seek not to be noticed. ...more
Feb 16, 2021 rated it liked it
Ontariocore, and clearly a book for the Munro-heads which I'm not (yet)! This was what my grandma had on her shelf, so its what I read. Will read more (from my moms shelf) and report back. Obviously she's a fantastic writer but this didnt feel as much like getting my heart cored out by small moments as Lives of Girls and women, and kind of felt like she wrote it for herself, which again is not bad, just for people who are devotees ...more
Sara Morelli
I'm very sorry to be giving this such a low rating, but it completely missed the mark for me. Mostly, I failed to see the point of each story, and what ties them together. To me it felt like random recollections that were headed nowhere, not even gripping enough to keep me engaged/interested. I did appreciate the concept of mixing fiction and biography, though. ...more
May 10, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
A collection of short stories, loosely based on Alice Munro's family and life, is my introduction to this well-known and respected Canadian writer's work. I enjoyed the ease with which I sank into this book and loved the stories of Munro's immigrant family and their experiences in "America", which was Canada really. The latter stories in the book did not grab my attention as easily, but the links between people and the loose connections which come when people live in the same town were a wonder ...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
Shawn Mooney (Shawn The Book Maniac)
This family-history-memoir-in-short-stories didn't hit me right at all. Very very dry, and churchy, with none of the psychological hijinks I love in a vintage Munro story. Plus I didn't like the audio narrator's schoolmarmish voice. Perhaps I will give it another go in text form down the road. But to be honest I'll probably read absolutely everything else by her first. ...more
Jan 11, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: recorded-books
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
Jan 07, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: canadian, narrative
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
Amanda (bookedwithamanda)
The writing was good but the stories were too dull for me. I think they'd have been better if you had an emotional attachment to the characters, like if the stories were about MY family for example. I'm just not into it unfortunately and I probably wouldn't have finished the book if it wasn't our book club pick next month. ...more
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Book Club: The View from Castle Rock 1 3 Mar 24, 2016 09:05PM  
@yycbookclub: January 2016: The View from Castle Rock 1 7 Jan 14, 2016 02:36PM  

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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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