The View from Castle Rock
Very interesting, enjoyable. This collection of short stories is fiction, but based on Munro's research into her own family history, and her own life. The stories are arranged in chronological order, from the Scottish ancestors who dreamed of emigrating to Canada, those who made the harrowing sea voyage, pioneers in southern Ontario, and on to Munro's own family. The specifics appeal to me, but the emotional content and family relationships are universal. Alice Munro's writing is conversational, accessible, and beautifully descriptive. The stories are snapshots of different people at different times in history, and some people appear in only one story, making me want to know more about them and what happened next. Some people are only dimly known, while others are more completely portrayed. Some, I suspect, are portraits of real people, with a few names and details changed to avoid lawsuits! I enjoyed the connections with my own family history - Scottish immigrants in the 1800s, first land-owners clearing farms in Ontario, the education, dating and marriage of a young woman in the 1930s to 1950s Ontario (the same age as my parents), one story where Munro was the maid at a cottage on Georgian Bay. Later stories portray the different generations of her family, caring for her parents, becoming elderly, a breast cancer scare, a first and second marriage, her father remarrying after his first wife died from Parkinson's. This is a very good book, and I know I will re-read it every few years. I will also give a copy to my mother, and recommend it to other family members in Ontario.