I chose to read Too Much Happiness because (to my knowledge) I haven’t read anything by Alice Munro before. I’ve been told that her novels are extremely well-written, but decided to start with her latest book of short stories.
I picked up the book one evening before bed and started to read the first story. I had to put it down before I finished because I needed to go to sleep; but when I picked it up next, I stormed right through the story. As it ended, I turned the page expecting the next chapter in this intriguing character’s story. I was oddly disappointed to be reminded that this book was short stories. I took the time to go back and reread the last page of the first story and let the finality of it sink it. This happened with countless stories in Too Much Happiness — I didn’t want to let the characters go.
Someone told me that they weren’t an Alice Munro fan because all of her characters were middle-aged white folks who were of average-income. I could totally understand the point this person made — coming from an ethnic background. However, I ended up getting so immersed in the characters thoughts, feelings, and life that I didn’t care what colour they were, how old, or how well-off. It was the character’s motivations (not their physical descriptions) that stuck with me. I also really liked the stories placed in BC, bringing them close to home and all the more real to me.
This stunning collection of new stories demonstrates once again why Alice Munro is celebrated as a pre-eminent master of the short story. While some of the stories are traditional, set in “Alice Munro Country” in Ontario or in B.C., dealing with ordinary women’s lives, others have a new, sharper edge. They involve child murders, strange sex, and a terrifying home invasion. By way of astonishing variety, the title story, set in Victorian Europe, follows the last journey from France to Sweden of a famous Russian mathematician. — from the Publisher
I definitely would like to read more by Alice Munro. If you like short stories, these are very compelling and leave you wanting for more.
Full disclosure: I requested this book for review from the publisher. This did not affect my review or feelings regarding the book.