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Lives of Girls and Women: A Novel (Vintage International) [Kindle Edition]

Alice Munro
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (65 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $15.95
Kindle Price: $9.99
You Save: $5.96 (37%)
Sold by: Random House LLC

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Book Description


The only novel from Alice Munro-award-winning author of The Love of a Good Woman--is an insightful, honest book, "autobiographical in form but not in fact," that chronicles a young girl's growing up in rural Ontario in the 1940's.

Del Jordan lives out at the end of the Flats Road on her father's fox farm, where her most frequent companions are an eccentric bachelor family friend and her rough younger brother. When she begins spending more time in town, she is surrounded by women-her mother, an agnostic, opinionted woman who sells encyclopedias to local farmers; her mother's boarder, the lusty Fern Dogherty; and her best friend, Naomi, with whom she shares the frustrations and unbridled glee of adolescence.

Through these unwitting mentors and in her own encounters with sex, birth, and death, Del explores the dark and bright sides of womanhood. All along she remains a wise, witty observer and recorder of truths in small-town life. The result is a powerful, moving, and humorous demonstration of Alice Munro's unparalleled awareness of the lives of girls and women.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

Editorial Reviews


“Marvelous…. A ribald, humorous appreciation of girlhood [that] manages to treat sex in a new way…. A real joy!”–Ms.

Praise from fellow writers:

“Her work felt revolutionary when I came to it, and it still does.” —Jhumpa Lahiri

“She is one of the handful of writers, some living, most dead, whom I have in mind when I say that fiction is my religion.” —Jonthan Franzen

“The authority she brings to the page is just lovely.” —Elizabeth Strout

“She’s the most savage writer I’ve ever read, also the most tender, the most honest, the most perceptive.” —Jeffery Eugenides

“Alice Munro can move characters through time in a way that no other writer can.”—Julian Barnes

“She is a short-story writer who…reimagined what a story can do.” —Loorie Moore

“There’s probably no one alive who’s better at the craft of the short story.” —Jim Shepard

“A true master of the form.” —Salman Rushdie

“A wonderful writer.” —Joyce Carol Oates 

From the Publisher

7 1.5-hour cassettes

Product Details

  • File Size: 1233 KB
  • Print Length: 290 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: B007ERTINC
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reprint edition (December 21, 2011)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B006F1YOFA
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #124,074 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
66 of 66 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A classic coming of age story with a twist. June 17, 2002
By Nicole
Alice Munro is truly the master of the short story. "Lives of Girls and Women" deserves to be on everyone's list of must-read books. Munro is an exceptionally talented writer, one who can take ordinary situations and turn them into something wonderful. Here, she presents a traditional coming of age story, then spices it up with her own unique brand of dry, subtle wit and a host of zany characters. In "Lives," we follow Dell Jordan from childhood to young adulthood as she struggles with her identity in a small town in southern Ontario. Along the way, we meet many colorful characters, including Dell's Baptist boyfriend, her social outcast mother, a suicidal music teacher, and a lecherous friend of the family. "Lives" is more of a collection of short stories than a novel, but each story is like a puzzle piece. In the end, each piece fits together to create a massize jigsaw puzzle of Dell's life. I have read "Lives" three times, and it is one of my favorite books - addictive, humorous, and thoroughly enjoyable.
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41 of 46 people found the following review helpful
What an amazing book! This not merely a good book for middle-aged women, or good instruction for girls, or any such claptrap. To label Munro as good "women's lit" is demeaning to women and demeaning to "The Lives of Girls and Women." (Plus it makes men who enjoy reading her a bit funny.) It's a great book! In any category!
Munro is a master of characterization and narrative structure. Del's description of her mother, for example, reveals: (1) Del's feeling of discomfort at her own place within Jubilee's hierarchy and environment; Del wants to fit in, and her mother embodies the eccentric within her own self. (2) Del's mother's strengths, pulling herself from abject poverty, putting herself through school, starting her own business in conservative postwar rural Canada - this woman evokes our admiration, despite the disgust of our narrator. It's these multidimensional portraits that makes Munro so great - yes, a character (Del's mother) can earn our admiration, disgust, and pity all at once...
Then in the building of conflict, Munro ALWAYS surprises us. Every scene is fresh, new, interesting, every culmination of conflict resolves in ways we would never expect. Take the time when Del was being molested by her mother's boarder's boyfriend. One day she goes off with him in his car out to the country, and we're expecting some "Bastard Out of Carolina" child-raping exploitation and subsequent weepy victim hood. But Munro makes a left at the light, has the man simply masturbate in front of the child, who for her part is excited, charmed, and repelled by the sight and is grateful to be introduced to the mystery of the penis.
And lastly, Munro refuses to depict her women in the same, old tired way.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Did the religous guys really ban this?! February 2, 2012
I think I saw on youtube, that some religious schools banned this novel. Man those guys are easily offended! I think actually this novel is quite innocent. I mean it's just a little girl who honestly seek some answers to her existential questions in the established religions in her town. Then when she grows a little older she naturally becomes interested in the question of sex, and explore that. What could be more natural and innocent?! I think Alice Munro's voice is charming and entertaining. Especially the part where her school performs an operetta is catching and memorable.

There is a very strong scene in the end of the novel, which actually the whole of the novel centers around. This scene takes place in the Wawanash river when Del Jordan is bathing with her truck driver boyfriend Garnet French. In my opinion Alice Munro in that scene carves out an eternal and everlasting moment in the history of litterature. To me the scene is perhaps not so much about religion specifically, but more about human society in general.

As with some great artists, there is something superior and untouchable about Alice Munro. For a rather plain person like me, this strange stuff, is a source of recurrent intellectual itchiness, because I will properly never be able to touch it, define it and put it in a box.

Is the books Ontario town, Jubilee, perhaps inspired by her experiences in the Ontario town, Wingham?
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars REALISTIC AND BRILLIANT September 21, 1999
By A Customer
I was forced to read this book during the final exams for my H.S.C. but actually found that it was very enjoyable. It is the touching story of a young girl growing up in Canada in the 40s, who yearns to be an artist, and her journey towards womanhood. The format of the story is unique and the characters are likeable and real enough to believe in. This is a well-told semi-autobiographical novel which stays in the memory long after it's has been read.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My favorite book October 23, 2001
By A Customer
I couldn't possibly say all I want to say about how good this book is. I am Alice Munro's biggest fan and this is my favorite of her books. Many of her later stories are larger in scope, more ambitious in their reach, but this book is truly a gem. Get lost in Del's world. Munro creates a lush, astounding, painfully, gorgeously real world. Read this book and then read it again. And give it to every one of your friends.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
great book! I felt like she was describing my home town.
Published 13 days ago by Dr. S. Junkin
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Each story is so beautiful that I want to reread it as soon as I am finished.
Published 25 days ago by Allan M. Siegel
2.0 out of 5 stars Two Stars
unbeloievably boring. she has craftsmanship, but who cares when the stories are so superficial and meaningless in gneral
Published 26 days ago by jack
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Book - Must Read
Believe it or not, I had never read anything by Alice Munro before, so I decided to start with this one, and I'm glad I did. Can't wait to read another Munro book.
Published 1 month ago by E. Beavers
5.0 out of 5 stars funny, poignant
Incredible book: poetic, funny, poignant, and insightful. Munro makes you see everyday things from an unexpected perspective.
Published 2 months ago by SMD
4.0 out of 5 stars Munro is great as usual
Full of her best stories
Published 3 months ago by Esther B.
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great writer
Published 3 months ago by Ruth E. Harris
4.0 out of 5 stars Lives of Girls and Women: an interesting read
This book is a choice for a book club that has not yet met. I was unfamiliar with Alice Munro, but find her to be an excellent story teller. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Nancy
3.0 out of 5 stars Book club read
Read this for a book club. Members loved it, I found it a little slow. Maybe I've read too many crime thrillers.
It is well written and very descriptive.
Published 5 months ago by Joye Montgomery
1.0 out of 5 stars Disjointed and uncomfortable
I read this book for a book club read. Several people in the club couldn't make it through the entire book. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Jeneal
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More About the Author

Alice Munro grew up in Wingham, Ontario, and attended the University of Western Ontario. She has published eleven previous books.During her distinguished career she has been the recipient of many awards and prizes, including the W.H. Smith Prize, the National Book Circle Critics Award, the PEN/Malamud Award for Excellence in Short Fiction, the Lannan Literary Award, the Commonwealth Writers' Prize, and the Rea Award for the Short Story. In Canada, she has won the Governor General's Award, the Giller Prize, the Trillium Book Award, and the Libris Award.Alice Munro and her husband divide their time between Clinton, Ontario, and Comox, British Columbia.

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