"Runaway" is the first story in this stunning collection, sure to be a runaway success. All of the eight stories here are new, published in book form for the first time. Two of the eight have never appeared anywhere, so this will be a special feast for the millions of Munro fans around the world. Miraculously, these stories seem to have been written by a young writer at the peak of her powers. Alice Munro's central characters range from 14-year-old Lauren in "Trespass," through the young couple in "Runaway," whose helpful older neighbour intervenes to help the wife escape, all the way to a 70-year-old woman meeting a friend of her youth on a Vancouver street and sitting with him to recall their tangled lives fifty years earlier, through a web of cheerful lies. Three of the stories, "Chance," "Soon," and "Silence," are linked, showing us how the young teacher Juliet meets her fisherman lover on a train (and, by terrible chance, visits his B.C. home on the day after his wife's funeral); how, years later, she brings baby Penelope back east to show her parents and learns sad secrets about their marria≥ and how, twenty years on, she visits the estranged Penelope in her cult-like B.C. community. The result is more powerful than most novels, a quality in Alice Munro's stories that has been noted by many reviewers. The final story, "Powers," spans 50 years and runs from Goderich to Vancouver and involves a cast of four characters, each of whom steps forward to dominate the scene, not least Tessa, the plain girl whose psychic powers take her on the vaudeville circuit. But it is Alice Munro's own powers that dominate this collection and that will amaze reviewers and readers. How can she keep getting better? How can any one person know so much about the heads and hearts of so many different people? And how can she weave them together in stories that delight academics and ordinary readers alike, making each new Alice Munro book a runaway bestseller?
Toronto : McClelland & Stewart, 2004
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