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Lives of Girls and Women
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1001 book reviews > Lives of Girls and Women by Alice Munro

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Diane | 2022 comments Rating: 4 stars

The coming of age story of a girl growing up in 1940's rural Ontario who learns about what it means to be female both from her own experiences with males and from observing the women (and girls) she is surrounded by. The book is told in stories, so the book is like a collection of chronological short stories all relating to the same main character. Del, the main character starts to fall in to the trap of losing her identity in her relationships with boys and conforming to gender roles, but soon discovers who she is and what is important to her and to her life.

Overall, a well-written and entertaining book. I liked this one even more than The Beggar Maid.

Tracy (tstan) | 557 comments 4 stars
I very much enjoyed this book. Del's feminine influences are varied, and she is continually trying to decide which ones are more important. It's filled with colorful characters, not the least of which is Del herself. One of the better coming of age novels I've read.

Jenni (sprainedbrain) | 71 comments Lives of Girls and Women is a really quiet, beautifully written, very quotable book. Some of my favorite quotes highlighted as I went along are:

‘There is no protection, unless it is in knowing. I wanted death pinned down and isolated behind a wall of particular facts and circumstances, not floating around loose, ignored but powerful, waiting to get in anywhere.’

‘Sometimes I thought of the population of Jubilee as nothing but a large audience, for me; and so in a way it was; for every person who lived there, the rest of the town was an audience.’

‘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.’

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

I love Munro’s subtlety in presenting Del’s coming of age in a small town. All of the other people in her life, especially the women, and richly drawn and complex

I gave it 4 1/2 stars.

Melissa 5 Stars for me!

I’m way behind on this one, I should have finished it last month with my Reading1001 group, but my plans for March all got sidetracked.

However, despite my long reading time, 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 more complex than that...and I love the way the whole story together paints a very interesting look into the lives of women as they struggle to be themselves in a world that would be much more comfortable pigeon-holing them into the stereotypical box.

Kristel (kristelh) | 3958 comments Mod
Read 2017
Canadian author. I found it to be kind of like reading an English novel, a little hard. It was actually a pretty good book. Too much sex but more realistic on how it impacts females.

George P. | 428 comments This must have been a group book just before I joined. This was my second Munro book, the first being a (non-1001 List) book of short stories.
I think it's an excellent novel. I didn't get the impression of it being a collection of linked short stories, as some have said. It reminded me very much of Edna O'Brien's trilogy of a girl/young woman growing up, including The Country Girl, and The Girl with Green Eyes, which is set in about the same era, but O'Brien's in Ireland. I really liked those also.
In the later half the novel seems to focus a lot on (the main character) Del's relationships with men which is not surprising.

George P. | 428 comments I don't think it was mentioned here that Munro was awarded the Nobel Prize, that should be noted.

message 8: by Patrick (last edited Apr 16, 2021 06:39PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Patrick Robitaille | 904 comments ***

A review on the front cover states: "Munro has an unerring talent for uncovering the extraordinary in the ordinary." Umm, I don't think so: it still felt very ordinary. This book tracks the coming-of-age of a girl/woman growing up in rural Ontario (just the last 5 words trigger immense dread and a sense that not much would happen) in the period starting just at the end of WWII. While the novel emphasizes how the women (and some of the men) around her influence some of the choices and experiences she makes, I really struggled to get engaged in reading this book. Even the episodes where sex came to the forefront were somewhat bizarre, especially with some of the outcomes (perhaps because they belonged and were possible in another era?). Nevertheless, the penultimate chapter ("Baptizing") was the most interesting of the book, perhaps because more actually happens in that part. I think it was better than "The Beggar Maid", but it doesn't reconcile me with the hypothesis that a Nobel Prize guarantees quality reading.

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