Dear Life – A Book Review

Dear Life by Alice Munro

Dear Life by Alice Munro

I had heard a lot of praise about Alice Munro in many book blogs, and I had always penned her somewhere in the back of my mind as an author whose books I want to read.

Last week, I finally read a compilation of her short stories – Dear Life and I love her writing style. They are very simply written, not meant to dazzle the reader, but they are still complex and psychologically interesting stories.

All the stories are set in the early to mid 1900s, and provides a wonderful window to life as it was then in rural Canada.

One of the most powerful stories in the collection is Amundsen. A teacher in a rural sanitarium for children with tuberculosis becomes engaged to a doctor who works there. What seems like a straight-forward love story has a sudden twist in the ending that I just did not foresee.

Leaving Maverly is another beautiful story. A married police officer (and this can only happen in small towns or villages, right?) agrees to accompany a young woman home daily from her late night job to make sure she is safe. She is from a strict religious background and does not have much exposure to the outside world. One night she disappears. What happens to her and to him? I thought this would be a story about an extra-marital affair between the police officer and the woman, but Munro surprised me again, and I found a lovely, touching story about loss and hope.

Another thing Munro does well is write about the elderly. In Sight of The Lake is about a woman looking for a doctor because of her memory loss. Haven is a very ironical look at emotional domestic harassment long before such a thing was officially recognized as harassment.

The last four “stories” are pretty interesting. These stories are, in Munro’s own words, not quite stories… the first and last – and the closest – things I have to say about my own life. So, of course, these pricked my interest. I liked these semi-autographical snippets but can’t say they really added much to the collection. Just a pleasant but not very interesting addendum to the main stories.

All in all, I like Alice Munro, and I think I will definitely look into more such short stories by her.

Thanks to Random House for sending me a copy of this book to read and review.

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