The Love of a Good Woman
For over thirty years Alice Munro has remained faithful to the short story. In THE LOVE OF A GOOD WOMAN: STORIES, her ninth collection, she continues to do so with eight stories that, in a deceptively leisurely fashion, explore the mysteries and hidden secrets of small town life, mostly in the hearts of women and girls. Alice Munro’s stories lull the reader into a world that seems much like everyday reality until suddenly events tighten almost unbearably, and what seemed to be transparent becomes murky and mysterious.
In “The Children Stay” and “Jakarta,” couples split up because of romantic fantasies that may or may not be as valid as the realities that held them together. In “Rich as Stink” and “After the Change,” young women recall drastic events that crystallized their ambiguous relationships with fathers so they could free themselves. In “Save the Reaper” and “My Mother’s Dream,” mothers and daughters try to find ways to accommodate themselves to each other.
The most complex work in the collection is the title story in which three boys discover a body in a car at the bottom of a river. Munro then leaves the body and the boys to focus on a lonely young woman caring for an embittered wife; suddenly secrets within mysteries and stories within stories coalesce to conclude with open-ended moral ambiguity.
Alice Munro is the most powerful and polished contemporary short story writer practicing that delicate art. Readers should be grateful for still one more collection of her masterful fictions.
Sources for Further Study
Booklist. XCV, September 1, 1998, p. 6.
The Canadian Forum. LXXVII, October, 1998, p. 49.
Library Journal. CXXIII, September 15, 1998, p. 115.
Maclean’s. CXI, November 16, 1998, p. 82.
The New York Times Book Review. CIII, November 1, 1998, p. 6.
Publishers Weekly. CCXLV, September 7, 1998, p. 81.
Time. CLII, November 30, 1998, p. 119.
The Times Literary Supplement. December 4, 1998, p. 22.
The Wall Street Journal. October 30, 1998, p. W4.
The Washington Post Book World. XXVIII, November 15, 1998, p. 5.