Lives of Girls and Women

Lives of Girls and Women

Book - 2001
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WINNER OF THE NOBEL PRIZE#65533; IN LITERATURE 2013

The only novel from Alice Munro-award-winning author of The Love of a Good Woman --is an insightful, honest book, "autobiographical in form but not in fact," that chronicles a young girl's growing up in rural Ontario in the 1940's.

Del Jordan lives out at the end of the Flats Road on her father's fox farm, where her most frequent companions are an eccentric bachelor family friend and her rough younger brother. When she begins spending more time in town, she is surrounded by women-her mother, an agnostic, opinionted woman who sells encyclopedias to local farmers; her mother's boarder, the lusty Fern Dogherty; and her best friend, Naomi, with whom she shares the frustrations and unbridled glee of adolescence.

Through these unwitting mentors and in her own encounters with sex, birth, and death, Del explores the dark and bright sides of womanhood. All along she remains a wise, witty observer and recorder of truths in small-town life. The result is a powerful, moving, and humorous demonstration of Alice Munro's unparalleled awareness of the lives of girls and women.
Publisher: New York : Vintage Contemporaries, 2001.
Edition: First Vintage Contemporaries edition
ISBN: 9780375707490
0375707492
Branch Call Number: MUNRO A 2001
Characteristics: 277 pages ; 21 cm.

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1
1aa
Jan 10, 2017

A series of longish snapshots of a girl in a smallish town and her growth from late childhood to early womanhood. Its awkward portrait: like taking a picture of one arm, then the other, and so on for other parts of the body and then arranging the photos with the one of the head at the top, of the legs at the bottom, and so on, and claiming it it be a picture of the person. Its rather disjointed, clumpy, and incongruent.

a
alpaca85
Sep 22, 2015

Alice Munro’s Lives of Girls and Women is less of a novel and more of an uninterrupted stream of golden-tinged memories, unrepentant nostalgia and frank reality. Following the character of Del, a young girl growing up in rural Ontario at some undetermined point in the mid-20th century, we watch as she matures from the quiet, childish girl casually listening in on her parent’s adult conversations to a wiser, hardened woman experiencing her first pangs of desire. This transition is not unique; indeed, it is an experience I am sure much of the adult population will be able to relate to. But, the humanism with which Munro paints Del’s burgeoning journey to adulthood is remarkable.
Consider the way in which Munro turns the dull, unoriginal workings of a small town into a nest of sadness and insanity. The picture perfect village of Jubilee slowly devolves into a character study of multiple individuals, flitting in and out of Del’s life. There is her mother, a fiercely independent and intellectual woman who refuses to conform to the small-town’s notions about femininity and a women’s place in society. Then there is her best friend Naomi, who, after being stricken by an ailment, moves away from her and Del’s former childish curiosity towards a life of simple domesticity, infuriating the ambitious Del. Even more, there is Jerry Storey, an intellectual equal but hardly an exciting male presence in her life. These people flit in and out of the pages of the book, binding Del to the idiosyncratic nature of Jubilee.
Indeed, each chapter within the book marks a progression, a leap in time, giving us a different picture of Del every time. From the inward looking, reclusive child, she slowly becomes more and more self-aware, and, over the course of the book, she matures in a way which Munro’s writing handles with grace and tact. It would have been easy to over sentimentalize Del’s journey, to treat it as an exception rather than a typical storyline. But, Munro’s naturalism gives her the breadth and ability to convey the story in a way that is simultaneously low-key and incredibly exciting. Within the mundanity of Del’s life, we find sudden bursts of action and passion. Munro’s ability to transform normal, everyday events into spellbinding literature is a rare gift, and here she shows herself to be well on top of her genre.
Lives of Girls and Women is not an original book. Those who read it will likely find themselves unsurprised by the plot developments, bar perhaps a few unexpected diversions, and the characters will likely seem familiar and clichéd. However, the true beauty and genius in this novel is how it transcends mere genre tropes, instead heading straight towards the truth of the unbearable awkwardness of adolescence, and the restless allure of a forgotten childhood. Munro’s characters do not serve to remind the reader of familiar notions, but to expand upon them, to allow one to glimpse a familiar world through a familiar perspective, and yet see more than could have ever been imagined. That is the true genius behind this novel and what makes it a truly memorable read.

c
CL_BookClub
Jan 03, 2015

Our book club just finished this title and although the story was nothing outstanding in their opinion, it was surprising to see how much conversation this book generated amongst members.

l
LDPBLM
Jun 02, 2014

I have never read "my personality" on the page before - what a surprise ! Thanks , Alice Monroe . Excellent !

e
emilysteeves
Feb 03, 2012

A story of self-discovery for a young girl coming of age in rural Ontario in the 1950's. This novel offers an perspective into a time and place that no longer exists, but I did not find the characters all that interesting, and there was a lack of closure and plot development.

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1aa
Jan 10, 2017

Coarse Language: Surprisingly, this book uses the words fuckhole, cock, pussy, and fuck.

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