Wednesday, August 21

Book Review: Open Secrets

Title: Open Secrets

Author: Alice Munro

Pages: 247

Summary: In this new collection of stories -- the finest yet from one of the most brilliant writers of fiction at work today -- whole lives, whole worlds, unfold with an ease, a richness, an absolute "rightness" that are breathtaking.

These are stories in which women are central. They are about lovers found and lovers lost but lodged still in the subconscious, about secrets that change lives, about people whose histories are opening out or coming to an end. Their power accumulates layer by layer as time and reality shift, identities become uncertain, truths surface.

A heart patient on a trip to her doctor on a hot summer's day has a revelation about the lasting power of an old love. A long-hidden secret sticks in the consciousness of a young woman, who, in an outrageous but entirely satisfying act, finally rids herself of its thrall. A romantic tale of capture and escape in the wilds of central Europe may or may not be true, but it comforts the hearer, who, on an adventure of her own, is fleeing her husband. Two childhood friends resolve their lives in a madcap and unexpected way on a memorable midsummer's eve. A pioneer woman home-steading in the Canadian wilderness with her new husband and his brother devises a clever stratagem for eluding the certain and dire fate that awaits her if she remains on the farm.

A wonderful gathering of stories in which once again, as she does with each new book, Alice Munro surpasses herself.

Contents:
Carried Away
A Real Life
The Albanian Virgin
Open Secrets
The Jack Randa Hotel
A Wilderness Station
Spaceships Have Landed
Vandals

My Rating: 9/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: This one is up there as one of my favourites by the author. There were times I was lost in reading some of the stories from this particular collection, making the book hard to put down. There were times I wanted to slow down and slowly read through the book, other times I wanted to inhale it. I think it's safe to say that this collection is one of my favourites, and has two of my favourite short stories I've read by the author so far.

Although all of the short stories have their own merits to them, I have my favourites which were; Carried Away, A Wilderness Station and A Real Life. Mt least favourite was Vandals. With that being said, even the ones that I didn't love, were well written and had something to them to make me want to read more. Open Secrets for example, wasn't exactly a favourite of mine, but by the time I got to the end, I did enjoy the story. It lives up to its title and the author does explore a lot through the eyes of her characters, community and all that is "hidden" there.

If I had to only pick one of the short stories as my favourite, A Wilderness Station would win. Carried Away was the reason why I bought the collection, as I read it on its own previously, but A Wilderness Station, gripped me from start to finish. There's a lot to the short story and it had both fully fleshed out characters, as well as an engaging plot from start to finish. The ending was excellent, with a slightly surprising twist and overall the short story was one that had be gripped from start to finish. It also shows exactly what the author is capable of, and is one of my favourites I've read by her so far.

All in all, a wonderful collection which has left me with wanting more.

Would I recommend it to read: I would. This would be a good place to start if you want to try out the author, as it shows a bit of a range in her writing.

What to read next: More collections by the author.

Challenges: 100 Books Challenge, 2013 Category Challenge, 7th Annual Canadian Book Challenge, Mount TBR Challenge

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