Beyond the Book: Background information when reading Too Much Happiness

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Too Much Happiness

Stories

by Alice Munro

Too Much Happiness
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    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Nov 2009, 320 pages
    Paperback:
    Nov 2010, 320 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Marnie Colton

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Beyond the Book

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 1891, so it can't be the ...

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