The Love of a Good Woman

by Alice Munro

Hardcover, 1998

Call number





Alfred A. Knopf (1998), Edition: 1st, 340 pages


An anthology of stories probing the human psyche. In the title story, a woman prepares to put her life on the line to get a man. She will confront him with a murder he committed, at which point he might kill her, but if he doesn't she will have him in her power.

User reviews

LibraryThing member bragan
This is a collection of short stories. All of them are set in Canada, often in small towns or summer cottages, most of them in the 1950s or 60s, and feature love and sex, affairs and babies, and people who sometimes feel almost painfully realistic.

The title story was actually the first thing of Alice Munro's I ever read, in some anthology or other, and I was immediately impressed by it, particularly by all the tiny little details that simultaneously seemed so true to familiar human experience and so utterly original. What strikes me now, having read the rest of the stories in this collection, is how often Munro provides us with these deft little details while simultaneously leaving the big emotional stuff that's actually at the heart of the story mostly implicit and hinted at. This doesn't always entirely work for me; there are pieces in here that I find a little unsatisfying, no matter how well-written they are. But when it works, it really works.

Rating: I'm giving this one a 4/5, but the best stories definitely rate higher than that.
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LibraryThing member thorold
Another brilliant short-story collection (the fifth by Munro that I've read). More insights into the home-life of everyday Canadian small-town folk (optometrists, abortionists, murderers, librarians, adulterers, amateur actors, etc.). As usual, each story quietly does something new and outrageous to overturn our ideas of how a short story should work. Munro cavalierly advances time by twenty or thirty years, or shifts to a different viewpoint character, just when we're expecting a big reveal. Or we go backwards towards a piece of information that Munro then decides not to give us after all. Great fun!

The title story, especially, is a tour de force in which we are primed in the opening paragraphs to take an interest in a sudden death, but then determinedly led away from it to follow various characters who don't seem to have anything to do with the matter, but tell us a remarkable amount about the workings of small-town society in the fifties. And a beautifully obscure ending that makes you slam on the brakes and rewind the story in your mind to sort out what was really going on all along.
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LibraryThing member agnesmack
It’s rare that short stories resonate with me. Even when I like the characters, writing, pacing, etc., I typically just feel like a good friend stopped by for a minute when they should have stayed the night. I want more! There are a few notable exceptions though, and this collection is an example.

I loved this book for the same reasons I loved Runaway. The characters were engaging, the stories felt complete, and the pacing was impeccable. While other short story writers too frequently give me a glimpse of a person I’d like to know more of, Ms. Munro’s stories all feel to me that they’re exactly as long as they should be. I read this months ago and unfortunately I can’t remember a specific story that stood out, but I am left with a very concrete feeling that this collection was successful for me and has further cemented Ms. Munro as one of my favorite short story writers.… (more)
LibraryThing member briannad84
Second Alice Munro and I like her books. Some of the stories were good and some were long and boring.
LibraryThing member archangelsbooks
The Love of a Good Woman is another example of why Alice Munro is one of the most powerful writers working today. The stories in this volume are not feel-good, make you happy kind of stuff. They are small pieces of emotional dynamite. Sometimes the dynamite goes off, when you least expect it; other times it doesn't, just when you were expecting a boom. Either way, she leaves you astonished at the way simple incidents in our daily lives can often have such devastating results.… (more)
LibraryThing member oldblack
I liked these short stories very much. I was suprised at how much depth Munro could reach in a relatively small number of pages. Most of the stories finished in a way that was a satisfactory ending, but yet left the eventual outcome open.
LibraryThing member SeriousGrace
The first story, "The Love of a Good Woman, starts off with the exploration of the different adolescent reactions to an apparent accidental drowning of the town's ophthalmologist. Three boys, with three very different home lives, struggle with the knowledge of this death. Each of them takes a different view on how to tell an adult about the accident. From there the story takes on an unusual twist.
All of the stories explore different human connections. Unfaithful marriages, nursing the dying, landlord and tenant, mother and child...each relationship is riddled with conflict and emotion. Munro captures these relationships so well they seem to be her specialty.
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LibraryThing member mermind
Alice Munroe is one of my very favorite writers. I'm amazed by how melancholy and yet liberating her stories are. I guess that is the nature of compassion and a keen presence to every detail that makes life, life.
LibraryThing member bluepigeon
Continuing on my short story streak, I picked up Munro after much praise from fellow readers. Certainly, Munro does the short story well, finding ways – fine and subtle ways – to develop her characters. This collection is indeed about the ordinary person, the ordinary Canadian, perhaps, but it is a very diverse set of stories and voices. The most memorable stories for me were Enid's story (second part of Love of a Good Woman) and Before Change.

The stories describe the mundane, the every day, the usual progression of lives. It's like a short bike ride on an unremarkable day. And then the bike tire brushes a rock, the rider loses control, perhaps for a second or enough to tumble down by the side of the road, or worse, into coming traffic, but no, nothing is really that drastic. Just temporarily alarming and maybe life-changing.

Recommended for those who like to read about small town mysteries, neighborly gossip, secretive doctors, and failed marriages.
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LibraryThing member abbeyhar
I didn't find the stories in this as compelling or as complete as some of the others I've read by her, but I still found myself swept up in many, and her ability to reveal character traits and plot points slowly as a story progresses. Favorites were The Children Stay, My Mother's Dream and the title story.
LibraryThing member browner56
A small town optometrist is found dead under unusual circumstances and his suspicious past becomes an issue for a young woman who is trying to reconcile the sacrifice of her professional dreams. A bitter landlady who may be harboring a terrible secret from long ago torments one of her tenants, a young woman with a tenuous grasp on reality. A daughter must confront the consequences of what her father does for a living and her complicity in that endeavor. An adulterous wife tries to come to grips with the reason she has destroyed her family. A mother’s inexperience and neglect nearly results in the death of the child that she is not really sure she wanted to have in the first place.

These are several of the stories told in The Love of a Good Woman, Alice Munro’s collection that focuses on ordinary people who must deal with extraordinary circumstances involving lost love, betrayal, and death, among other things. It is also the second volume of the author’s fiction that I have read and I confess to having a “love/not really feeling it” relationship with her work. On one hand, I appreciate the exquisite craftsmanship of her writing; it truly is amazing how much detail and insight she can pack into only about 30 or 40 pages of text. Also, each of these tales provides a master’s class in subtle storytelling, with many of the important plot twists foreshadowed early on or revealed in flashback near the end.

For as much as I admired the quality of the writing, however, I found each of the eight stories themselves to be oppressively grim and unpleasant. Worse than that, though, was the lack of single likeable character anywhere in the entire book. With no one to root for (or, at least, identify with emotionally), I found myself approaching these tales in an overtly clinical manner—almost as a professor might grade a stack of term papers—rather than allowing myself to be immersed in the protagonist’s world. Needless to say, reading this book was not a particularly satisfying experience and it is not one that I am likely to repeat again soon.
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LibraryThing member Firewild
As this book is a collection of short stories, it is hard to give this book an overall rating. These four stars are an average between two and five. Some stories left you wondering what was their point at all and feel "undertold", while others have truly touched me. I especially enjoyed descriptions of Vancouver before I knew it. She has truly captured the spirit of that city!

Overall, once you get used to Munro's disordered "life snpashots" style, the stories are very enjoyable if a bit repetitive by the end. Not sure if I will ever pick up another Munro book but I am definitely glad that I have read this one.
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LibraryThing member tripleblessings
Winner of the 1998 Giller prize for Canadian literature. A beautiful collection of stories of men and women, their changing relationships and love stories. While I enjoy the Canadian people and places she portrays, the characters and emotions are universal enough to resonate with anyone. I find Munro's stories more rich and appealing as I grow older and live more of the experiences (marriage, parenthood, life and loss) that she writes about so movingly.… (more)
LibraryThing member cattylj
I stutter-started this collection but I knew I would like it so I had to set it aside until I was ready. That happened to be yesterday and I'm very glad I gave it another go. I don't know what I can say about Munro's writing that hasn't already been said. It's eloquent, deliberate, and intimate. Each story is engrossing in its own right. Even the one or two I didn't particularly care for at the start had me hanging on every word by the end. Her characters are real. Their situations are painfully, heart-achingly real. She renders them with such delicacy and a total lack of preaching. There are some short stories I read and forget within a month. There are some I read and know immediately that I'll remember and return to them for years to come. These belong in the latter group. I'm eager to get my hands on more from Munro.… (more)
LibraryThing member Romonko
Alice Munro is definitely the queen of the short story genre, and this book which was a Giller Prize Winner solidifies her position. I really like Ms. Munro's stories. They are about life, love, disappointments, and with a few zingers thrown in that sometimes change the entire direction of the story. It keeps them interesting and fresh. And Ms. Munro's writing is so wonderfully crafted. She is a wonderful author, and any of her books are well worth reading. The stories are each little gems in their own right.… (more)




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