Too Much Happiness

Alice Munro

Too Much Happiness

A wife and mother, whose spirit has been crushed, finds release from her extraordinary pain in the most unlikely place. The young victim of a humiliating seduction (which involves reading Housman in the nude) finds an unusual way to get her own back and move on. An older woman, dying of cancer, weaves a poisonous story to save her life. Other stories uncover the 'deep holes' in marriage and their consequences, the dangerous intimacy of girls and the cruelty of children. The long title story follows Sophia Kovalevsky, a late nineteenth-century Russian emigree and mathematical genius, as she takes a fateful winter journey that begins with a visit to her lover on the Riviera, and ends in Sweden, where she is a professor at the only university willing to hire a woman to teach her subject. 4.8 out of 5 based on 9 reviews
Too Much Happiness

Omniscore:

Classification Fiction
Genre Short Stories
Format Hardback
Pages 320
RRP £17.99
Date of Publication August 2009
ISBN 978-0701183059
Publisher Chatto & Windus
 

A wife and mother, whose spirit has been crushed, finds release from her extraordinary pain in the most unlikely place. The young victim of a humiliating seduction (which involves reading Housman in the nude) finds an unusual way to get her own back and move on. An older woman, dying of cancer, weaves a poisonous story to save her life. Other stories uncover the 'deep holes' in marriage and their consequences, the dangerous intimacy of girls and the cruelty of children. The long title story follows Sophia Kovalevsky, a late nineteenth-century Russian emigree and mathematical genius, as she takes a fateful winter journey that begins with a visit to her lover on the Riviera, and ends in Sweden, where she is a professor at the only university willing to hire a woman to teach her subject.

Reviews

The New Statesman

Nina Caplan

Munro's skills are such that, in a single page of the superb title story of this new collection, she traces the entire history of women's struggle for equality, from mute resignation over unavoidable conception to the struggle for the vote, without losing control of her narrative... It feels so natural you have to stop and squint to realise how cleverly it's been done.

27/08/2009

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The Scotsman

Mary Crockett

These are not macabre tales with fancy endings; they're far too subtle for that. They draw you in, as a fireside storyteller might, with details and digressions, false starts and disorganised flashbacks, things unsaid or merely hinted at, intimations of what might be coming – or might not – and always leaving at least one question hanging in the air: what if it were me?

22/08/2009

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The Daily Telegraph

Lorna Bradbury

What is striking about this collection is quite what Munro’s characters have to endure... And though the stories may be bleak, these women show remarkable fortitude and often manage to wriggle free from the miseries Munro inflicts on them. She has the lightest of touches, with every word seeming entirely necessary, but nothing set in stone... [A] remarkable collection

15/08/2009

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The Times

Tom Gatti

...anybody who opens this or any other Munro volume will soon realise, Booker logo and laudatory jacket quote notwithstanding, that they are reading some of the most honest, intuitive and exacting fiction, long or short, of our time.

15/08/2009

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The Sunday Times

Peter Kemp

Written with veteran assurance, brimming with intensely believable characters and rich social detail, these dispatches from the most unsparing reaches of Munro’s imagination confirm her acclaimed place on the highest ground of contemporary fiction.

16/08/2009

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Times Literary Supplement

Michael Gorra

Each of these stories is like a chip off some massy substance, a piece that implies the whole. Every one of them seems reinforced by the echoes of another, and to read Munro now, to visit and revisit this house or that marriage, seems like immersing oneself in a great poet’s collected works, a chance to inhabit a mind, a sensibility, that is larger than any of its individual iterations.

26/08/2009

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The Financial Times

Kieron Corless

Munro’s mysteries are all the more effective for emerging from such ordinary settings. The language is plain, as is her tone: never sentimental or judgmental, but careful and precise... Perhaps comparisons with Chekhov et al are a trifle overstated, but there’s still a great deal to relish and wonder at here. Too Much Happiness certainly does nothing to suggest any waning of powers as Munro closes in on her ninth decade.

24/08/2009

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The Literary Review

Elaine Showalter

These ten stories are exceptionally bleak even for a writer whose fiction obeys a zero-sum-game theory of human satisfaction... All the stories are suffused with [an] elegiac but unsentimental acceptance of the temporality, change and transience of fame and reputation as well as love or grief.

01/08/2009

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The Spectator

Philip Hensher

This collection is (mostly) as strong and vivid as ever... There is some unevenness here, however; one story about the murder by two girls of a mentally handicapped classmate is excellently done, but the subject is a favourite one of American writing, and has an inevitably routine aspect. And the final story is a disaster... please, Chatto, persuade her to remove this blot on a fine volume before the paperback comes out.

19/08/2009

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