Literary Award Winners Fiction Book Club discussion

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Past Reads > The Love of a Good Woman by Alice Munro

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message 1: by George (last edited Oct 01, 2020 12:18AM) (new)

George (georgejazz) | 488 comments Mod
Please comment here on ‘The Love of a Good Woman’ by Alice Munro (1998 NBCC winner)


message 2: by Irene (new)

Irene | 551 comments I am about 2/3 of the way into this collection and each ending seems to startle me. I don't think I am reading these stories with enough attention because I am ending each story not quite sure where the author was going.


message 3: by Irene (new)

Irene | 551 comments Finished. I think I need someone to teach me how to read these stories. I had the sense that the author was saying something quite profound and I was missing it.


message 4: by George (last edited Oct 11, 2020 04:07AM) (new)

George (georgejazz) | 488 comments Mod
I enjoyed this collection of eight short stories. I found the ordinary characters interesting and the plots engaging. Most of the stories are set in the 1960s and are about the need for women to be independent and the varying ways parents bring up girls to be independent.
(I did not receive any notifications this month so I read the last three stories today when I discovered you had finished the book Irene!).
I will add some further comments tomorrow. Whilst the title story is memorable and one I particularly like, I need more time to decide on which stories I liked best.
Irene, what were your favourite Alice Munro stories in this book?


message 5: by Nidhi (new)

Nidhi Kumari | 3 comments I have just started. I like her stories especially the collection Dance of the Happy Shades. I also feel something I miss in her stories because I can never remember her whole stories just snatches of them here and there .


message 6: by Irene (new)

Irene | 551 comments I did not realize they were set in the 1980s. I would have guessed them to be in the 1960s to 1970s. I did not connect with any of the stories.


message 7: by George (last edited Oct 11, 2020 04:31AM) (new)

George (georgejazz) | 488 comments Mod
Yes Irene, you are right. The stories are mostly set in Canada in the 1960s to 1970s. I found all the stories held my interest. The characters are well developed and the plot is generally unpredictable.
'The Love of a Good Woman' - starts off with three boys discovering a dead body and then more details emerge about how the body came to be in a car in the river. I enjoyed how the story unfolded.
I also particularly liked 'Before the Change' - about a young woman who comes home to see her father who is a doctor. She learns more about her father and discloses details about herself.

None of the eight stories could be described as 'pleasant', but they are interesting. They are about issues including rebellious women who protect themselves from convention, controlling husbands / fathers, the frailty of marriage and how change can strain a marriage.

(Alice Munro won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2013).


message 8: by George (new)

George (georgejazz) | 488 comments Mod
Nidhi wrote: "I have just started. I like her stories especially the collection Dance of the Happy Shades. I also feel something I miss in her stories because I can never remember her whole stories just snatches..."
I am keen to read 'Dance of the Happy Shades', Alice Munro's first book of short stories, published in 1968. I have read 'Lives of Girls and Women' and 'The Beggar Maid' and really enjoyed both of these novels.


message 9: by Nidhi (new)

Nidhi Kumari | 3 comments Lives of girls and women is on my list. I think it is the only novel she has written.


message 10: by George (new)

George (georgejazz) | 488 comments Mod
‘The Beggar Maid’ is a novel also. It was shortlisted for the 1980 Booker Prize.


message 11: by Nidhi (new)

Nidhi Kumari | 3 comments Yes. The description says interweaving stories, that makes a novel. Added to my Tbr.


message 12: by Irene (new)

Irene | 551 comments Yes, there was something interesting about each of them and something very off-putting. I thought that final story might be my favorite until we had a description of an abortion which really unsettled me. The story leading to the car in the river had a creepy feel for me even though I can't put my finger on anything that would say the author intended to creep me. The beach party sceen with the total abandon of the partiers never felt free or joyful, but sinister and depressing. It all made me feel quite uncomfortable. Maybe that is what makes this such a great piece of literature. Munroe does not obviously manipulate the reader, yet she gets under the skin.


message 13: by George (last edited Oct 12, 2020 05:37AM) (new)

George (georgejazz) | 488 comments Mod
Yes, the description of the abortion was unsettling. What I liked about the story, 'Before the Change', was the dynamics of the father / daughter relationship and the unanswered questions. There had not been open communication between father and daughter. The father does not speak about his work and the daughter does not talk about her not completing her thesis, splitting up from her partner and the baby. In forty pages lots happen, yet we are left reflecting on a number of issues. What topics do you discuss with your parent? Do you avoid discussing certain topics because you know what the other will think and you do not want to have a disagreement? If the doctor had discussed his work with his daughter, would his daughter have talked to him about her circumstances with her previous partner? Would the doctor want to be a grandfather? Did the doctor charge for his illegal work? How much did he give the carer? What will the daughter do now? and so on...


message 14: by Irene (new)

Irene | 551 comments Well said. And, I think a similarly long list of unanswered questions could be compiled for each of the stories. The reader is shown enough to draw conclusions but little enough to make him or her question those conclusions.


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