Ten superb new stories by one of our most beloved and admired writersthe winner of the 2009 Man Booker International Prize.
In the first story a young wife and mother receives release from the unbearable pain of losing her three children from a most surprising source. In another, a young woman, in the aftermath of an unusual and humiliating seduction, reacts in a clever if less-than-admirable fashion. Other stories uncover the deep-holes in a marriage, the unsuspected cruelty of children, and how a boys disfigured face provides both the good things in his life and the bad. And in the long title story, we accompany Sophia Kovalevskya late-nineteenth-century Russian émigré and mathematicianon a winter journey that takes her from the Riviera, where she visits her lover, to Paris, Germany, and, Denmark, where she has a fateful meeting with a local doctor, and finally to Sweden, where she teaches at the only university in Europe willing to employ a female mathematician.
With clarity and ease, Alice Munro once again renders complex, difficult events and emotions into stories that shed light on the unpredictable ways in which men and women accommodate and often transcend what happens in their lives.
A remarkable meditation on the themes closest to Munro's heart: hateship, friendship, courtship, loveship, marriage, to quote the title of her 2002 collection. Her stories always take the road less traveled to foster epiphanies in their characters and a subtle yet deep satisfaction in the reader... in her unflinching portrayal of misjudgments, accidents, and serendipitous exchanges, Munro has crafted a dark masterpiece. (Reviewed by Marnie Colton).
Los Angeles Times
The power of random events lies at the heart of Too Much Happiness... Faced with such a world one might well wonder: How are we to live? That is the question Munro has asked throughout her career, and continues to address in this remarkable new book.
Each of the stories in Alice Munro’s new collection... reads like a novel, not in miniature, but—miraculously, magically—in full... [This] tour-de-force volume... is classic Munro—at once deep, devilish, and divine
Starred Review. [T]he collection delivers what she's renowned for: poignancy, flesh and blood characters and a style nothing short of elegant.
It's hard to imagine that anyone could write stories richer than these. Until the next Munro collection.
The Spectator (UK)
This collection is (mostly) as strong and vivid as ever.
The Independent (UK)
This wonderful new collection continues to explore her chief preoccupation – what is it that constitutes a life, and gives it its uniqueness, in the absence of any sign of singularity .... Many of Munro's characters, and the prism of her narratorial voice, are deeply "normal"; and it's this air of stubborn, sociable normalcy that she at once enriches and undermines...
The Globe & Mail (Canada)
Most importantly, these stories are not asking for our praise, they ask for our attention. They are not written for the crowd, but for the individual reader. They don't ask for noise, but for silence – and not an awed silence at that (though awe is certainly possible), but the silence that happens when you close a book and pause and continue with your life, less lonely than you were before.
The Calgary Herald (Canada)
This May's announcement of Munro as the third winner of the prestigious Man Booker International Prize for a body of work should be enough to convince any lingering doubters not only that the short story is alive and well, but that Munro's fine literary offerings are as worthy as any novels. It should help confirm, too, that the well-titled Too Much Happiness is the surest bet for this fall's reading pleasure.
Too Much Happiness=Ecstasy?
Munro's stories often contain mysterious elements that deepen their appeal, leaving the reader with something extra to savor, like a fine mint after an especially flavorful dinner. No story in the collection better exemplifies this than "Too Much Happiness," a tale brimming with sadness that nonetheless ends in ecstasy. The chemical origins of that ecstasy begin when the doctor on the train gives her a pill, saying only "'This will give you a little rest if you find the journey tedious.'" Suffering from a sore throat and nagging cough, Sophia finally takes the pill that not only lessens tedium but also makes her feel "as if her heart could go on expanding, regaining its normal condition, and continuing after that to grow lighter and fresher and puff things almost humorously out of her way."
MDMA (usually called by its street name, Ecstasy) wasn't synthesized until 1912, and "Too Much Happiness" ends with Sophia's death in...
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