(Masterpieces of American Literature)

Only five pages long, “Prue” is a brief history of a pleasant, good-humored woman, once a dining room hostess in British Columbia and presently a Toronto clerk. Divorced and with grown children when she met Gordon, a wealthy neurologist, she lived with him off and on before he and his wife finally divorced. One evening Gordon admits he has acquired a jealous young lover with whom he is infatuated, but he wants to return to Prue in a few years and marry her. Prue treats this development as a good joke with which to regale her friends.

What she does not tell them is that the next morning she steals one of Gordon’s gold and amber cufflinks, which she stores secretly with other mementos in a tobacco tin which her children once gave her. Such souvenirs, which are neither expensive nor worthless, she simply takes, perhaps as something tangible to hold for herself. Prue reveals herself as a woman familiar with disillusion and empty relationships, which she deflects by anecdotes and humor even as she appears to move on. The unspoken truth of her emotions is withheld, concealed like the objects she keeps in the tin.


(Masterpieces of American Literature)

Franzen, Jonathan. “Alice’s Wonderland.” The New York Times Book Review, November 14, 2004, 1, 14-16.

Howells, Coral Ann. Alice Munro. Manchester, England: Manchester University Press, 1998.

McCulloch, Jeanne, and Mona Simpson. “The Art of Fiction CXXXVII.” Paris Review 131 (Summer, 1994): 226-264.

Moore, Lorrie. “Leave Them and Love Them.” The Atlantic Monthly 294, no. 5 (December, 2004): 125.

Munro, Sheila. Lives of Mothers and Daughters: Growing Up with Alice Munro. Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 2001.

Ross, Catherine Sheldrick. Alice Munro: A Double Life. Toronto: ECW Press, 1992.

Simpson, Mona. “A Quiet Genius.” The Atlantic Monthly 288, no. 5 (December, 2001): 126.