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The View from Castle Rock

3.69  ·  Rating details ·  4,126 ratings  ·  537 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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3.69  · 
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 ·  4,126 ratings  ·  537 reviews

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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 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 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,
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
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
Mar 13, 2015 rated it really liked it
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
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.
Aug 07, 2018 rated it liked it
Recommended to El by: Brian Leyden
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

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
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
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
George 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 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.
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
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
Kevin Fanning
Sep 22, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
Marco (Barely a blogger)
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.
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.
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: narrative, canadian
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
May 02, 2008 rated it really liked it
Interesting, semi-fictional account of Munro's ancestors and of Munro herself (or her narrator-persona). Many of the stories (chapters?) are as good as anything I've read by her.
Jan 27, 2019 rated it it was ok
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.
Jun 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is a wonderful, beautifully written collection of stories. Ms. Munro has a real gift for writing stories that touch the reader. She's able to do this because her stories are all about real life and real experiences of everyday people.
Dec 17, 2018 rated it it was ok
The book has become a total disappointment for me. Dull, poorly written, full of strange characters that appear from nowhere. It doesn't look like Munro at all.
I think I liked the first half of the book better then the second half. Maybe a change of writing style? Or just because the familyhistorie comes more nearby?
May 16, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Elizabeth (Alaska)
Jan 05, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: short-stories
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
Kerry Kay
Don't get me wrong. I love Alice Munro and this is one of her best. Her final 2 collections (Dear Life and Too Much Happiness) seemed to be retreads of her prior works. They didn't have the element of surprise that she is so good at. What I found somewhat tired was the voice. When I first read her, the elliptical quality of her writing seemed the personification of her characters, women from rural Canada who were taught to bite their tongues, act the dutiful wife, not aspire for anything beyond ...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
“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.” 1 likes
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