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‘Alice Munro has a strong claim to being the best fiction writer now working in North America... She is speaking to you and to me right here, right now’ - Jonathan Franzen

On a clear day, you could see ‘America’ from Edinburgh’s Castle Rock – or so said Alice Munro’s great-great-great-grandfather, James Laidlaw, when he had drink taken. Then, in 1818, Laidlaw left the parish of 'no advantages', of banked Presbyterian emotions and uncanny tales – where, like his more famous cousin James Hogg, he was born and bred – and sailed to the new world with his family. This is the story of those shepherds from the Ettrick Valley and their descendants, among them the author herself. They were a Spartan lot, who kept to themselves; showing off was frowned on, and fear was commonplace, at least for females…
But opportunities present themselves for two strong-minded women in a ship’s close quarters; a father dies, and a baby vanishes en route from Illinois to Canada; another story hints at incest; childhood is short and hazardous. This is family history where imperfect recollections blur into fiction, where the past shows through the present like the tracks of a glacier on a geological map. First love flowers under an apple tree while lust rears its head in a barn; a restless mother with ideas beyond her station declines painfully; a father farms fox fur and turkeys; a clever girl escapes to college and then into a hasty marriage. Beneath the ordinary landscape there’s a different story – evocative, frightening, sexy, unexpected, gripping. Alice Munro tells it like no other.


A collection that sees her delving even deeper and with glittering expertise into a fictional terrain she has made her own for 40 years now

Peter Kemp, Sunday Times

The pre-eminent master of the short story... all delivered by her spare, wonderful prose

David Mattin, Independent on Sunday

If there is one writer who proves that the short story should never be deemed the uninspiring younger sibling of the novel, it is Munro

Melissa McClements, Financial Times

This is a deeply moving and contemplative book. If it is a valediction, then it is a magnificent one

Mary Morrissy, Irish Times

Mesmerising and cleverly interlinked, these stories are well balanced - neither overly inventive nor stolidly factual. Ms Munro's light touch and her sensitive embellishment of the truth result in a book that is illuminated by the patterns of life repeating themselves over the years


One of my very favourite writers

Claire Tomalin, Writersâ?? and Criticsâ?? pick of 2006, Guardian

A stunning achievement

Sarah Emily Miano, The Times

The power of Munro's storytelling never falters. It is almost otiose to add to the clamour of praise for her writing, but necessary, nevertheless. This is a remarkable book

Jane Shilling, Sunday Telegraph

Munro's genius, as she imagines what is going on inside the closed worlds of individual lives, has to do with her exceptional openness to other people's words, to the shapes of their understanding and their ways of seeing

Tessa Hadley, London Review of Books

Beautifully written, this delicate interweaving of fact and fiction is Munro on top form

Daily Mail

This is a rare and fascinating work, in which the past makes sense of the present and the present makes sense of the past

Karl Miller, Guardian

This is a remarkable book...anyone who has ever felt the pull of the secret past should read it and marvel

Jane Shilling, Sunday Telegraph

A memoir that has taken a breath, and expanded itself beyond the genre and beyond the confines of one life

Hilary Mantel, Guardian



Unbelievably good

Literary Review

Beautifully conceived, evocative and moving

Good Book Guide

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Formats & editions

  • Paperback


    November 1, 2007


    368 pages

    RRP $19.99

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  • EBook


    August 1, 2011

    Vintage Digital

    368 pages

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