Book choice for November 2013

Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage [suggested by Helen Close]

Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage

The award-winning Canadian writer Alice Munro's collection is about the lives, hopes, dreams and ends of women: their marriages, their relationships with those who touch their lives in some momentous way--however brief or long-standing--and the extraordinary effects wrought by the hand of fate. She is not only a genius storyteller, she has a cunning ability to make you believe the short story you've just read was actually a full-length novel. So if you've ever thought twice about buying a book of short stories, then the marvellous Alice Munro will make you think again...

Munro's world is one of post-war Canada, when women are beginning to experience a constrained kind of freedom. In "What is Remembered", a chance meeting at a funeral has a profound, yet stabilising effect on Meriel, a young wife and mother. "Young husbands", writes Munro, "were stern in those days". Between learning how to kowtow to bosses and manage wives, there was so much else to learn: mortgages, lawns and politics for a start. The wives, meantime, were afforded the opportunity of "a second kind of adolescence"--but only in the confines of the family home, while the men were absent, and only after wifely jobs were accounted for. In the book's title story, a capable, spinsterly housekeeper finds love in the most unexpected place, in the most unexpected way. However the opportunity presents itself, it is what you choose to make of it that really matters, the author seems to be saying. Johanna could be deeply disappointed with her "opportunity" but, in her straightforward way, amends a few details and makes the most of it. [Product description from Amazon]

The collection has spawned two films - Hateship, Loveship; and Away From Her - and has its own Wikipedia entry.

See also the book selection page for March 2011, when this was originally proposed, and which contains a synopsis and review from a different source.

About the Author

In common with last month's author Zadie Smith, Alice Munro doesn't have a website (at the time of writing). Her Wikipedia page is here.

 

Shortlisted for this month

With the unexpected absence of the nominated book selector for this month, the meeting was thrown into temporary disarray until Helen and Claire between them managed to trawl the contents of their e-readers and come up with two suggestions for us to vote on. HFCLM above won the vote, the other candidate being:

Happenstance

Happenstance

These companion novels - by turns touching, compassionate and humorous - tell the stories of Jack and Brenda Bowman. In all the years of their marriage they have hardly ever been apart.

In 'The Wife's Story', Brenda, now forty-years-old, and who has been surprised to discover a source of creative energy, is about to spend a week away from their home in a Chicago suburb to attend a craft convention in Philadelphia. It is her first trip alone. Removed from her familiar environment, all the gathering emotions that have unsettled her life over the last few years are focused and bring her to a crisis. Brenda is vulnerable in a strange city. She is also ready to grasp whatever experiences come her way.

In 'The Husband's Story', back in Chicago, Jack faces his own crisis. It is the first time he has been left to cope on his own. He is immobilised by self-doubt, beginning to question his worth and the value of his work as a historian. Suddenly, in that one week, his world falls apart. He has to deal with an attempted suicide, a marital breakdown and, not least, their two difficult children. In the process, he manages to work out his feelings and to learn something about himself. [Product description from Amazon]

About the Author

Wikipedia entry.

 

Previous Months' Book Choices

2013

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2012

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2011

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2010

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2009

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2008

January February March April May June July August September October November

2007

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2006

January February March April May June July August September October November