Lives of Girls and Women



❮PDF / Epub❯ ☉ Lives of Girls and Women ✩ Author Alice Munro – E17streets4all.co.uk La vida de la gente en Jubilee como en todas partes era aburrida simple asombrosa e insondable… cuevas profundas cubiertas de linóleo de cocinaBastan estas pocas palabras para reconocer el talento d La vida de la gente en Jubilee Girls and PDF É como en todas partes era aburrida simple asombrosa e insondable… cuevas profundas cubiertas de linóleo de cocinaBastan estas pocas palabras para reconocer el talento de una espléndida narradora y colarse en Lives of eBook õ la vida de Del Jordan una chiuilla ue vive con sus padres en el pueblo de JubileeDel empieza contando su día a día su relación con la familia los vecinos y los amigos y pronto descubrimos ue esa niña of Girls and Epub Ü sabe observar el mundo y sacar buen provecho de lo ue ve compadece la pouedad del padre admira el arrojo de la madre ue deja la granja para dedicarse a vender enciclopedias por los alrededores y comprende ue tarde o temprano llega el momento en ue hay ue elegir entre una risueña mediocridad –hogar iglesia matrimonio hijos y otras opciones más interesantes y arriesgadas Ese descubrimiento es también el de la vocación literaria una suerte de llamada de deber para con el mundoEsta deliciosa novela ue la autora escribió cuando tenía cuarenta años es “autobiográfica en la forma ue no en los contenidos” como comenta irónicamente la misma Alice MunroTraducida por primera vez al castellano La vida de las mujeres muestra ya toda la maestría y el modo peculiar de ver la realidad ue ha distinguido la obra posterior de esta gran figura de las letras contemporáneas.Lives of Girls and Women

أليس مونروPersian.

Lives of Girls and Women PDF/EPUB ↠ Lives of  eBook
  • Hardcover
  • 384 pages
  • Lives of Girls and Women
  • Alice Munro
  • Spanish
  • 11 May 2016
  • 9788426419477

10 thoughts on “Lives of Girls and Women

  1. says:

    This is my favourite sort of novel writing that is acute astute and beautiful sugaring deeper uestions and messages that take time to ferment and mature “ All weekend thought of him stayed in my mind like a circus net spread underneath whatever I had to think about I was constantly letting go and tumbling into it”I felt similarly about Del Jordan though for completely different reasonsThis is my first encounter with Munro and it’s her only novel It is not far removed from short stories with Del describing her childhood and adolescence in seven episodic loosely themed death God friendships sex ambition etc but chronological chapters plus a short epilogue in different style The prose is carefully crafted to seem simple as are the brilliantly relatable insights and anxieties of an adolescent girl's life It’s raw and realistic It’s subtly philosophical without ever being pretentious And it exposes the hopes and fears of different and changing gender expectations without ever being academic or preachyUniversal “Where she was going I did not want to go But things were progressing for herShe had moved as far beyond me in the real world as I in all sorts or remote and useless and special knowledge had moved beyond her”Most of us don’t uestion our gender but I expect everyone has pondered aspects of the societal expectations that are based on it especially in our teen years whether girls can show cleverness how to handle relationships with friends and potential partners as bodies change and hormones rage what ambition girls can have beyond marriage the meaning of death and life You know; the little things It’s not an original concept for a novel but Munro executes it exuisitely Del lives in the small Ontario town of Jubilee during and after WW2 Her father raises silver foxes for fur Her mother is eccentric but with “odd little pockets of conventionality” opinionated and aspirational an atheist who sells encyclopaedias Her younger brother Owen is mostly in the margins as little brothers often are It’s a time of great change especially for girls and women and the most influential characters in her life are predominantly female mother aunts friends friends’ mothers and teachers She reminded me strongly of a cross between a Carson McCullers character and myself despite differences of geography decades and reality In particular her tussles with God and religion wanting to believe and to feel to belong yet not uite expecting it maybe not wholeheartedly wanting it were hallmarks of my adolescence too It’s a small town but it encompasses a range circumstances and beliefs both between individuals and within individuals over time degrees of conformity educated and not rural and suburban comfortable and poor religious different denominations and not singlechaste and married Nature nurture or both? Can we escape our past and our presumed destiny? Is Del made by Jubilee and the women in it or does she make herself?Tenses“ It was not the individual names that were important but the whole solid intricate structure of lives supporting us from the past”Uncle Craig is devoted to genealogy the past Mother is devoted to knowledge the past in service of the future Others are devoted to God present and futureeternal and to romance marriage and sex mostly in the present but not necessarily in that order Teenagers try to wrestle free of the past of their parents as they try to forge their futures and Del tries out different personae and priorities I felt the gentle pain of small town adolescence where there is no anonymity no privacy The ambivalent confused feelings of a child adult present and future about her changing body the bodies of others and the implications and opportunities arising is brilliantly realistically comically and painfully portrayed Christmas baubles on a summer sponge cakeMunro has a knack for dropping an unexpected word in an otherwise ordinary phrase the most outstanding aspect of this novel for me Most are not uite oxymorons but they startle and make me refocus my mind to see things in a new way We are all a strange and sometimes uncomfortable mix of characters and emotions regardless of the masks we wear• A delicate predatory face• Horrific playfulness of hyperbolic crimes • “Prosaic as a hiccup” parents downstairs when children in bed• Heartless applause• “Fierce but somehow helpless expressions”• Authoritative typing• Nimble malice that danced under their courtesies• “Putting her rouge on at the dark mirror”• “Relatives looking benevolent but voluntarily apart”• “My mother’s voice unwillingly deferential”• “Their artificiality bloomed naturally” women in the presence of a man• “I felt my anonymity like a decoration”• “Nosing along almost silently like an impudent fish” a big American car• “Pure hearted indifference” brother Owen’s attitude to God• “His grinning pessimism his mournful satisfied predictions”• “A foreboding yet oddly permissive tone of voice” about sex• “Windy yellow evening” Spring• “The landscape was postcoital distant and meaningless”• “A worried jovial face”• “His face contained fierceness and sweetness”• “His dark amiable but secretive face”The final chapter is another unexpected contrast It’s almost from another book another writer It’s shorter than the others and Del reflects on the motives and meaning of fictionalising real life with a slight magical realist aspect infused with the wisdom of one who was presumed a foolOther uotes• “The deep deep layered clutter and dirt of the place swallowed light”• “The Irish gift for rampaging mockery embroidered with deference”• “Knowledge A chilly commodity that most people grown up can agree to do without”• Soldiers’ uniforms “had an aura of anonymous brutality like the smell of burning”• “A dome of light a bubble radiant and indisputable He would flower suddenly as a bank of day lilies” How Del hopes God might reveal himself • “Rituals which in other circumstances might have seemed wholly artificial had here church a kind of last ditch dignity”• “I was happy in the library Walls of printed pages evidence of so many created worlds”• “We knew too much about each other to ever stop being friends”• “It’s the girl who is responsible because our sex organs are on the inside and theirs are on the outside and we can control our urges better” a friend uoting her mother who is a nurse• Del’s first sight of a penis “It looked blunt and stupid compared say to fingers and toes It did not seem frightening Raw and blunt ugly colored as a wound it looked to me vulnerable playful and naive It did not seem to have anything to do with me”• “She sent those school operettas up like bubbles shaped with uivering exhausting effort then almost casually set free to fade and fade but hold trapped forever our transformed childish selves”• Meeting the parents “Each of us was suspected of carrying the seeds of contamination atheism and sexual preoccupation”• “It was that stage of transition bridge between what was possible known and normal behaviour and the magical bestial act that I could not imagine”• “No foul shimmer of corruption the skin of everyday appearances stretched over such shamelessness” a prostitute is disappointingly ordinary • “I knew I was altered by his presence”• “Love is not for the undepilated”• “I would try to recreate the exact texture of his skin touching my own try to remember accurately the varying texture of his fingers”• “Sex seemed to me all surrender not the woman’s to the man but the person’s to the body a act of pure faith freedom in humility”• “We were close enough to childhood to believe in the absolute seriousness and finality of some fights”Postscript 1 McCullers and other influencesAfter reading the book and writing this review I pondered McCullers some I had assumed there might not bet enough of an age gap for much influence but then I found this undated interview here including this uestion and answerWhat writers have most influenced you and who do you like to read? When I was young it was Eudora Welty Carson McCullers Katherine Anne Porter Flannery O'Connor James Agee Then Updike Cheever Joyce Carol Oates Peter Taylor and especially and forever William Maxwell Also William Trevor Edna O'Brien Richard Ford These I would say are influences There are dozens of others I just like to read My latest discovery is a Dutch writer Cees NooteboomPostscript 2 Atwood loves thisIn The Testaments see my review HERE this is one of Aunt Lydia's five favourite books

  2. says:

    Straddling two genres Lives of Girls and Women features eight seemingly disjointed snapshots of daily life in Jubilee a rural town in Ontario seen through the eyes of Del Jordan a feisty girl on the threshold of adolescence that build on the common theme of women swimming against the backdraught of societal indoctrination towards rightful emancipation Munro's prose is spare but not scanty She skips major episodes in Del's life in favor of extended descriptions of the details that really count details that flood the unadorned first person narration with fierce authenticity Del’s psyche is exposed devoid of the glorified tint of nostalgia It is also painstakingly shaped by the external occurrences in a community ruled by the tight grip of a suffocating religious dogma that shears the futures of those who dare to challenge its traditional heritage Employing the intricate map of Christian sects; Presbyterian Anglican Baptist Catholic and Union Church that coexist in town as a menacing background combined with a good share of disabled characters and some doses of mordant humor highly reminiscent of Flannery O’Connor’s style Munro delineates Del’s personal growth on the choices she makes along the road to adulthood Ignoring her unconventional mother an agnostic amidst an ocean of fervent believers Del experiments with faith as she does with sexuality or with premature first love with rigorous self determination always remaining the mistress of her actions She needs to discover her wishes construct her ambitions on her own terms and so she dismisses preconceived ideas even from her best friend Naomi who aspires to secure a good marriage or from her modern mother who covets a college education for her Her mistakes disappointments and frustrations teach her the most constructive lessons and set the founding pillars of her path to mental and physical independenceThese thematic lines have been addressed exploited and scrutinized before but in my opinion what distinguishes Munro from other writers is her ability to construct a multi dimensional world –domestic personal and eually subversive– that moves dexterously from introspective narration minimalistic dialogue and objective narration to sketch flesh and bone characters whose inner struggles make the reading painful at times for the pangs of recognition it provokes in the reader Munro is unapologetic and so are her characters which become afire with life through her economical yet incisive proseAlso on this occasion the reader is not only rewarded by the deft unfolding pathos of a classical bildungsroman but also by the processes that take place in the making of an artist Del Jordan discovers that her literary vocation will transform her words into powerful weapons that will provide a voice to those silenced by decades of sustained social injusticeMy first Munro but certainly not my last

  3. says:

    My introduction to Alice Munro is Lives of Girls and Women and what a sensory feast this is Published in 1971 it could ualify as a short story collection for some a novel for others; the seven titled chapters capable of being read out of order and standing alone as short stories but all narrated by the same character teenager Del Jordan as she grows up in the fictional southern Ontario town of Jubilee in the 1940s Under the supervision of her mother Ada Del determines whether her ideal is a life spent in service of a husband or dictated by her own choices somewhere else Of the many approaches to this story Munro's is marvelously detailed with a warm touch and unmistakable humanityFrom The Flats Road The Flats Road was not part of town but it was not part of the country either The curve of the river and the Grenoch Swamp cut if off from the rest of the township to which it nominally belonged There were no real farms There were Uncle Benny's and Potters' places fifteen and twenty acres Uncle Benny's going back to bush The Potter boys raised sheep We had nine acres and raised foxes Most people had one or two acres and a bit of livestock usually a cow and chickens and sometimes something bizarre that would not be found on an ordinary farm The Potter boys owned a family of goats which they turned loose to graze along the road Sandy Stevenson a bachelor kept a little gray donkey like the illustration to a Bible story pasturing in the stony corner of a field My father's enterprise was not out of the way hereIn Heirs of the Living Body Heart attack It sounded like an explosion like fireworks going off shooting sticks of light in all directions shooting a little ball of light that was Uncle Craig's heart or his soul high into the air where it tumbled and went out Did he jump up throw his arms out yell? How long did it take did his eyes close did he know what was happening? My mother's usual positiveness seemed clouded over; my cold appetite for details irritated her I followed her around the house scowling persistent repeating my uestions I wanted to know There is no protection unless it is in knowing I wanted death pinned down and isolated behind a wall of particular facts and circumstances not floating around loose ignored but powerful waiting to get in anywhereFrom Princess Ida The war was still on then Farmers were making money at last making it out of pigs or sugar beets or corn Possibly they did not mean to spend it on encyclopedias They had their minds set on refrigerators cars But these things were not to be had and in the meantime there was my mother gamely lugging her case of books gaining entry to their kitchens their cold funeral smelling front rooms cautiously but optimistically opening fire on behalf of Knowledge A chilly commodity that most people grown up can agree to do without But nobody will deny that it is a fine thing for children My mother was banking on thatIn Age of Faith Christ died for our sins said my mother jumping up In the hall mirror she peered aggressively at her own dim face Well well well Redeemed by the blood That is a lovely notion You might as well take the Aztecs cutting out live hearts because they thought the sun wouldn't rise and set if they didn't Christianity is no better What do you think of a God who asks for blood? Blood blood blood Listen to their hymns that's all they're ever about What about a God who isn't satisfied until he has got somebody hanging on a cross for six hours nine hours whatever it was? If I was God I wouldn't be so bloodthirsty Ordinary people wouldn't be so bloodthirsty I don't count Hitler At one time maybe they would be but not now Do you know what I'm saying do you know what I'm leading up to?No I said honestlyFrom Changes and Ceremonies After this we talked all the time about these two boys We called them FA's It stood for Fatal AttractionThere goes your FA Try not to faintWhy don't you get your FA some Noxema for his boils ugh?I think your FA was looking at you but it's hard to tell with his cross eyesWe developed a code system of raised eyebrows fingers fluttered on the chest mouthed words such as Pang oh Pang for when we stood near them on stage Fury double Fury for when Dale McLaughlin talked to Alma Cody and snapped his fingers against her neck and Rapture for when he tickled Naomi under the arm and said Out of my way butterballIn Lives of Girls and Women My mother spoke to me in her grave hopeful lecturing voiceThere is a change coming I think in the lives of girls and women Yes But it is up to us to make it come All women have had up till now has been their connection with men All we have had No lives of our own really than domestic animals He shall hold thee when his passion shall have spent its novel force a little closer than his dog a little dearer than his horse Tennyson wrote that It's true Was true You will want to have children thoughThat was how much she knew meBut I hope you will use your brains Use your brains Don't be distracted Once you make that mistake of being distracted over a man your life will never be your own You will get the burden a woman always does”There is birth control nowadays I reminded her and she looked at me startled though it was herself who had publicly embarrassed our family writing to the Jubilee Herald Advance that prophylactic devices should be distributed to all women on public relief in Wawanash County to help them prevent any further increase in their families Boys at school had yelled at me Hey when is your momma giving out the proplastic devices?From Baptizing This was the first summer my mother and I had stayed in Jubilee instead of going out on the Flats Road My mother said she was not eual to it and anyway they were happy as they were my father and Owen and Uncle Benny Sometimes I walked out to see them They drank beer at the kitchen table and cleaned eggs with steel wool The fox farming business was finished because the price of pelts had fallen so low after the war The foxes were gone the pens were pulled down my father was switching over to poultry I sat and tried to clean eggs too Owen had half a bottle of beer When I asked for some my father said No your mother wouldn't like it Uncle Benny said No good ever come of any girl that drunk beerThat was what I had heard Garnet say the same wordsTwo ualities of Lives of Girls and Women that are noticeable are Alice Munro's taste and her potent descriptive talent As a storyteller first and foremost she rejects screeds and dodges political activism Her stories are calibrated toward Del's self discovery where bitterness is smartly balanced against sweetness and sourness Along with these sensory explorations Munro has the abilities of a missionary when it comes to recording a Canadian town in the mid twentieth century She has John Steinbeck's gift of watching human beings gripped in sloth envy lust and other sins and bringing them to life with a splash of wit It's glorious work

  4. says:

    What was a normal life? It was the life of the girls in the creamery office it was showers linen and pots and pans and silverware that complicated feminine order; then turning it over it was the life of the Gay la Dance Hall driving drunk at night along the black roads listening to men's jokes putting up with and warily fighting with men and getting hold of them getting hold – one side of that life could not exist without the other and by undertaking and getting used to them both a girl was putting herself on the road to marriage There was no other way And I was not going to be able to do itDel Jordan growing up in rural Ontario Canada during the 1940s and 1950s relates in her own voice what it is like to be a young bright and inuisitive girl struggling against the current of expectations The characterizations of every single person in this novel are simply brilliant and fully authentic I am confident that any reader could recognize and relate to at least one character between these pages Del's mother who sells encyclopedias door to door and could not bear drunkenness no and she could not bear sexual looseness dirty language haphazard lives contented ignorance is often a source of embarrassment to Del Del's father is not a constant presence in her life as he chooses to remain on the outskirts of town while Del and her mother live in town Living at the end of Flats Road on his fox farm he felt comfortable here while with men from town with any man who wore a shirt and tie to work he could not help being wary a little proud and apprehensive of insult with that delicate special readiness to scent pretension that is some country people's talent Del spends part of her summer with her unmarried aunts I think we all have an Aunt Elspeth or Auntie Grace in our lives – joking yet judgmental flourishing their outworn views of a woman's place in the world Their house had a chiming clock which delicately marked the uarter hours; also watered ferns African violets crocheted runners fringed blinds and over everything the clean reproachful smell of wax and lemons At the heart of this book are Del and her relationships with these individuals and others – her best friend Naomi her teachers her mother's boarder Fern Dogherty her brainy classmate Jerry and even God Her life is molded not so much by the views of these people around her as by her own opposition to those views I loved her search for faith and an understanding of the various branches of religion within her hometown – with an exuisite sense of yearning she carries out this uest by going from church to church Her journey is not preachy but down to earth and often uite funny On wet windy Sundays snowy Sundays sore throat Sundays I came and sat in the United Church full of this unspeakable hope; that God would display Himself to me at least like a dome of light a bubble radiant and indisputable above the modern pews; that He would flower suddenly as a bank of day lilies below the organ pipes I felt I must rigidly contain this hope; to reveal it in fervor of tone or word or gesture would have been inappropriate as farting Del also explores the mystifying world of relationships and sexuality she experiments with alcohol and continues to aspire towards a life different from the one expected of a girl living in this place of strict boundaries and a time of conformity I found myself wholly captivated by the superb writing of Alice Munro She drew me into Del's life; I recognized and empathized with many of Del's feelings as a young girl Her curiosity and confusion are a distant yet piercing memory I admired her strength and her resilience This is not a young adult novel by any means despite the age of the protagonist I highly recommend this book to those that may identify with the struggle of a young person trying to find his or her own place in the world and those that appreciate an excellent literary piece of work This author is a new favorite and I can’t wait to immerse myself in of her writing

  5. says:

    There is a change coming in the lives of girls and women All women have had up till now has been their connection with men A first person narrative from the perspective of a young girl growing up in a rural region of Canada The mother has intellectual aspirations; the father is a fox fur farmer and very much of the soil The narrative begins in the middle of the second world war The massive stand out feature of this novel is uite simply the stunning uality of the writing That and the fabulous insights Munro provides about adolescent female sexuality its gifts its morally baffling kick starts and obstacles its impediments to the fulfilment of other aspirations of the growing self In this regard it's one of the most exciting novels I've ever read Almost every sentence she writes is like a fully grown flower thrilling and somehow inevitable in all its detail I loved this so much I'm about to begin another of her books

  6. says:

    Thousands of uestions which rise at different stages of life need not find answers but they give birth to a colorful diorama which has its share of black and white shades too I have little to say here but for the past few days I was thinking about this book and the lives it depicted Lives of Girls lives of Women lives which are similar and different than ours Alice Munro doesn’t glorify anything and at the same time she brings out the essence of reality in a glorious way She writes with a sublime understanding of a born writer which in turn reveals the human emotions in the best and simple way which subtly testifies the power of literature People’s lives in Jubilee as elsewhere were dull simple amazing and unfathomable—deep caves paved with kitchen linoleumShe acuaint us with her uotidian town with regular folks which gradually makes several train of thoughts run through our protagonist’s mind that carry her from a diffident childhood to curious adolescence and finally to the dynamic years of youth where the confrontation with numerous choices magnanimous ambitions and prophetic uotes helps in delineating a life which was all set to make a deep impact with her words There is still time for me to get the Nobel PrizeButYou know I’m kidding We could not get away from the Jubilee belief that there are great supernatural dangers attached to boasting or having high hopes of yourself Yet what really drew and kept us together were these hopes both denied and admitted both ridiculed and respected in each otherI smiled amidst tears and rejoiced at finding a book which gave me much than I’m being able to express Highly recommended of course

  7. says:

    “There is a change coming in the lives of girls and women All women have had up till now has been their connection with men” This is the theme threaded through this wonderful 1971 coming of age novel A bit of a shame it's Alice Munro's only novel She is well known for her mastery of the short story but that is not where her talent begins and ends Set in a small southern Ontario town this story centres on the growing up years of Del Jordan a smart and perceptive girl who has one boot in her rural roots and one stretching out further afield It has all the ingredients you might expect in a typical bildungsroman a growing awareness of family dynamics spirituality death social s sexual experience and especially in this book the trajectory a girl's life can take if she only dares to follow her truth beyond conventionBut there is to it than that The first thing I noticed was the humour My goodness Alice Munro is funny The details and innocence of Del's observations had me laughing out loud on many occasions She's also uite daring she is rebellious and unapologetic in her depiction of the female experience something for which Doris Lessing is lauded but which Lessing does on a much less readable levelThere's something dated about this book It has a uaint uality revisiting a small town Canadian world now extinct in which snobbery between Christian denominations still preoccupies minds where it's believed that no good can come from a woman who drinks beer and a mother goes door to door selling encyclopedias It's a beautiful thing I am so grateful this time and place is captured that the humble life here is recorded Subtle but beautiful complexities exist within this life; a million things to reject or hold dear or both in remembrance Despite its specificity of date and place I believe any woman can read this and relate Discovery of self is as universal as a naked body I think people like reading coming of age books precisely because they want to see their awkward fumblings mirrored back to them If this is true for you you've come to the right placeI was also charmed by the possibility that I was reading something autobiographical after all Del is a budding writer and that these pages tell a version of Munro's own journey Not only her growth into empowered womanhood but also into the fullness of life as an artist What an inspirationI did not want to be like my mother with her virginal brusueness her innocence I wanted men to love me and I wanted to think of the universe when I looked at the moon

  8. says:

    I gave myself two days to settle with this book before even attempting a review Two days of thinking and reflecting and confirming the marvel that is this book As one can tell from the title of the book Munro focuses on the relationships between girls and women in this book and each chapter marked a new development for Del the protagonist of this storyDel is a precocious girl living first at the outskirts and then in the poor small town of Jubilee Canada Her mother writes in the paper and sells encyclopedias and is considered an eccentric for her agnosticism beliefs in women’s reproductive rights and other notions that of course must have been extremely “liberal” in a small and religious town in the 1940s and her father is a fox farmer who lingers at the edges of the story for the most partTold in the first person and from Del’s point of view we journey with her through her childhood and the characters that people her life and thoughts her awakenings and conflicts and disasters and emerge with her at the end fully nourished The kind of story that grows and grows with each turn of the page filled with brilliant understandings of life death spiritualitiesy friendships and loveOne of the most exciting and fascinating aspects of this story is the town of Jubilee itself and the rich detail Munro furnishes it with From its economic and recreational activities to the townspeople themselves she creates such an intricate mesh a breathing steaming townIf you liked Toni Morrison’s Sula William Maxwell’s So Long See You Tomorrow Willa Cather’s My Ántonia or The Neapolitan Novels of Elena Ferrante then you’ll most likely like this one too With this book Munro solidifies her place in my heart as one of my favourite writers a great book

  9. says:

    Alice Munro Subversive Autobiographer of Everywoman People’s lives in Jubilee as elsewhere were dull simple amazing and unfathomable – deep caves paved with kitchen linoleumIn my review of Runaway I wrote Alice Munro has such uncanny insight into people's interior lives and subtle interpersonal dynamics it's almost indecent This my third by Munro seemed at first different gentler But no Just maybe stealthier Like one of those wasps that lays its eggs inside another creature Although the details of my life and personality are not I think very much like those of Munro’s protagonists by touching some deep commonalities Munro somehow makes her characters’ experiences happen to me — right here right now I'm reading along calmly and suddenly it hits full intensityMy initial discomfort gives way to a sense of wonder and amazement at the nearness to life of these unvarnished experiences of girls and women during a time — in history and in a girl’s individual life — when limitation is just opening out to possibility Set in the post World War II years published in 1971 this book is still freshMunro has described this book as “autobiographical in form but not in fact” It feels autobiographical and intimate Although described as Munro’s only novel it is really a collection of seuential short stories each of which could stand alone all narrated in the first person by the same character a girl growing up in small town Ontario Canada This structure makes the book tighter and consistently engaging than a novel Del Jordan navigates friendships family encounters with the world of boys and men flirtations with some of the town’s religious offerings — and discovers a desire to live uncircumscribed by limitations placed on girls She considers her mother’s word of warning I felt that it was not so different from all the other advice handed out to women to girls advice that assumed being female made you damageable that a certain amount of carefulness and solemn fuss and self protection were called for whereas men were supposed to be able to go out and take on all kinds of experiences and shuck off what they didn’t want and come back proud Without even thinking about it I had decided to do the same Seemingly thankfully the time has come when this can happen Yet always complex Munro without explicitly pointing out the irony later brings Del into contact with a young man who has ruined his life — not by sex as a girl might have but by violence — and is now seeking his own second chance Yet can unwanted experience so easily be shucked off? And in another chilling story we glimpse the conseuences of experience and responsibility shucked off in an extreme wayThough at least two of the seven stories have deeply tragic elements most are lightened and embellished with subtle humor Del’s mother an earnest self styled missionary of secular enlightenment who tries to sell the local farming families encyclopedias amusingly clashes with Del’s father’s independent yet passive aggressive maiden farmer sisters Munro seems to celebrate both and Del’s personality takes from both My mother went along straight lines Aunt Elspeth and Auntie Grace wove in and out around her They had the Irish gift for rampaging mockery embroidered with deferenceIf I had to compare Munro’s writing to another's it would be Eudora Welty's — and maybe Flannery O’Connor's — both of whom she claimed as inspirations Like Welty she has a social subtlety an emotional intelligence that is beyond my ken Like both she’s a conjurer of place the suffocations and sensualities of small town and rural environment and her turns of phrase are fresh and original without showing off But Munro is modern More than any other writer I’ve encountered she conjures the realities and the inner movements of sexual attraction and relationships between women and men from the women's perspective While Del's best friend Naomi joins the town’s cohort of working women — living independently and taking fiancés who become lovers while they prepare for traditional marriage Del navigates a sometimes hilarious boy girl friendship with Jerry Storey the town’s only intellectual boy in her age range But their semi chaste semi sexual overtures motivated to some degree by scientific curiosity are overthrown by the magnetic pull of pure attraction between Del and an earnest young country man named Garnet French Nothing that could be said by us would bring us together; words were our enemies What we knew about each other was only going to be confused by them This was the knowledge that is spoken of as “only sex” or “physical attraction” I was surprised when I thought about it—am still surprised—at the light even disparaging tone that is taken as if this was something that could be found easily every day seeing the world dense and uncomplicated but appallingly unsecretive; the world I saw with Garnet was something not far from what I thought animals must see the world without namesThese scenes these chapters are stunning And on reflection it seems to me that this was the way that many people once found their husband or wife in societies where individual choice rather than parental arrangement holds sway And probably still is I had to wonder whether Del's mismatched parents had come together this way as they managed the post passion years of their marriage by living essentially separate livesMunro brought out in the open all sorts of unspoken things that happen to girls and women In one especially uncomfortable story from the perspective of 2018 the young teen Del goes along with and rebelliously encourages a seduction by one of her teachers one of those teachers about whom my classmates and I would whisper the word pervert in morbid fascination He had a fine professional voice welcome as dark chocolate flowing in and out of the organ music on the Sunday afternoon program In Memorium sponsored by a local funeral parlorMunro was writing this intimate close to life autobiographical fiction two generations before contemporary Norwegian writer Karl Ove Knausgaard whose work I like very much — but unlike Knausgaard — at least in this book — Munro does not truck in guilt or shame I wondered about this — it doesn’t need to be neurotic like Knausgaard’s but something human seems missing when it doesn’t come up at all On the other hand Munro nails those times when we are just not sorry Del and maybe Munro consciously rebelled against society's subtle and unsubtle shaming of girls and women This attitude sharpens the edge of these well honed stories The book ends with an epilogue where the mature Del looks back on her journey learning to craft fiction At first she turns the lives of her fellow townspeople into amusingly grotesue and macabre tales — until perhaps she realizes that their ordinary linoleum paved lives are far deeper and fascinating

  10. says:

    Oh the coming of agesexual awakening novel We just can’t get enough of that can we? Probably because we’ve all been there and I think we love to make ourselves cringe reading about how other people lived it We relate we try not to judge we silently thank god we don’t have to go through that againAlice Munro’s only novel made me smile and it made me grateful I didn’t come of age in the 50s in rural Ontario Del’s story is as familiar as can be she is smart and awkward her parents embarrass her deeply she doesn’t uite understand her friends – much less the boys she grows up around She loves books and is disappointed that life can’t be as interesting as they are In other words not a new story but one told with gentle humor and tenderness The first half which introduces the reader to Del’s family and to the small town of Jubilee and its eccentric inhabitants – those small town are always full of eccentrics was sweet but felt a little slow The second half however when Del’s consciousness begins to expand felt much poignantMunro beautifully captured how strange and confusing the awkward transition from girl to woman is the weird pangs of adolescence Del understands all too well that the expectations people have towards her are not the same as they have towards boys She feels trapped by a gender based determinism; she wants to be her own person not a girl as the people of Jubilee define it or not even as her mother would define it – she wants to create her own definitionI think that ultimately this is the sentiment that made “Lives of Girls and Women” stand out for me in the sea of bildungsromans out there Del and her craving both for romantic passion and for a freedom that goes beyond being a girl felt achingly familiar and the bittersweet knowledge that if she stayed in Jubilee she would never find what she was looking for While the story is open ended I like to imagine her hopping on a train or a bus and going off to Toronto or Montreal and finding what people like her can never find in small towns

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