Out of the good discipline instilled in me since I was a child I did end up finishing Alice Munro’s “The Love of a Good Woman.” In the tradition passed on by many parents who instructed us, “if you have nothing nice to say, say nothing,” I will keep this brief. The book was substantially boring.
I think Munro comes up with a lot of interesting observations about age and how peoples worlds collide, but as a collection of short stories I found the book highly uneventful. Maybe I’m just not a sophisticated enough reader to properly appreciate a slow story line where the most eventful thing that happens is a wife dances at a party. Between the main character of the title story having an twisted God-complex, a newly married woman with a snoop for a landlady, and a wife who thinks her husband’s death in some far away country might have been faked, I just didn’t find any of the stories all that compelling.
But obviously someone did, since the book won the National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction. Many of the stories had been published in The New Yorker prior to being published as part of this collection, so there must be a wide enough fan base for Munro’s work for that to have happened. She is compared in reviews to many other feminist authors – Doris Lessing, Toni Morrison, Virgina Woolf, and described as a woman author who “writes as though she has forgotten she is a woman” which doesn’t make any sense to me. So does that mean that any woman author who writes from a female perspective about the life of a woman should be considered feminist? I’m not so sure about that.
Maybe I’m being too harsh and shouldn’t judge Munro and her writing abilities based on one book of short stories. Maybe she is just boring because she is Canadian and hardly anything interesting (that I know of anyway) happens in Canada, so it’s not her fault she lives in a boring country. (Apologies to my Canadian friends out there, I know that was a cheap shot, I just couldn’t help myself.) Maybe I’m out of line to criticize the 2013 Nobel Prize winner since I am not producing anything of measurable caliber, but in that same vein, if readers aren’t allowed to critique authors writing, than who is?
In any case, it just wasn’t my cup of tea.
Overall score: 2. I, personally, would not recommend it.
(Scores are given on a scale of 1 to 10. 1 being “don’t waste your time reading this” and 10 being “you must read this at some point in your life.”)