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Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage: Stories Hardcover – November 6, 2001

4.3 out of 5 stars 175 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Readers know what they are going to get when they pick up an unfamiliar Alice Munro collection, and yet almost every page carries a bounty of unexpected action, feeling, language, and detail. Her stories are always unique, blazing an invigorating originality out of her seemingly commonplace subjects. Each collection develops her oeuvre in increments, subtly expanding her range.

Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage is, of course, no exception. It is a fairly conservative collection of nine stories, none of which move far beyond Munro's favored settings: the tiny towns and burgeoning cities of southern Ontario and British Columbia. There are glimpses of youth here--in the title story, an epistolary prank by two teenage girls leads to a one-sided cross country elopement and, seemingly, a happy marriage, and in "Nettles," disrupted childhood affection fleetingly returns through a chance meeting--but most of these pieces are stories of aging women and men, confronting the twin travails of death and late love. As is always the case with Munro, their plots are too elegantly elaborate to summarize, and their unsentimental power is a given; baroque praise would be futile. Read these stories--it is the only way to really understand the miracles that Munro so regularly performs. --Jack Illingworth

From Publishers Weekly

A writer of Munro's ilk hardly needs a hook like the intriguing title of her 10th collection to pull readers into her orbit. Serving as a teasing introduction to these nine brilliantly executed tales, the range of mentioned relationships merely suggests a few of the nuances of human behavior that Munro evokes with the skill of a psychological magician. Johanna Parry, the protagonist of the title story, stands alone among her fictional sisters in achieving her goal by force of will. A rough, uneducated country girl, blatantly plain ("her teeth were crowded into the front of her mouth as if they were ready for an argument"), she seems doomed to heartbreak because of a teenager's trick, but the bracingly ironic denouement turns the reader's dire expectations into glee. The women in the other stories generally cannot control their fate. Having finally been reunited with the soul mate of her youth, the narrator of "Nettles" discovers that apparently benevolent fate can be cruel. In a similar moment of perception that signals the end of hope, Lorna in "Post and Beam" realizes that she is condemned to a life of submission to her overbearing, supercilious husband; ironically, her frowsy country cousin envies Lorna's luck in escaping their common origin. In nearly every story, there's a contrast between the behavior and expectations of country people and those who have made it to Toronto or Vancouver. Regardless of situation, however, the basics of survival are endured in stoic sorrow. Only the institutionalized wife of a philanderer in "The Bear Came Over the Mountain" manages to outwit her husband, and she has to lose her sanity to do it. All of the stories share Munro's characteristic style, looping gracefully from the present to the past, interpolating vignettes that seem extraneous and bringing the strands together in a deceptively gentle windup whose impact takes the breath away. Munro has few peers in her understanding of the bargains women make with life and the measureless price they pay. (Nov.)Forecast: Munro's collections are true modern classics, as the 75,000 first printing of her latest attests. Expect vigorous sales.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 323 pages
  • Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf; 1st edition (November 6, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375413006
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375413001
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 1.2 x 8.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (175 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #317,722 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on December 19, 2001
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Though some may call this a collection of short stories, when I finished reading each selection, I felt as though I had read a novel in beautiful miniature. Munro's characters are fully drawn; they grow and breathe as you read, and her plots are like quilts-pieced together in compositions that please as a whole and in parts. Love and its fickle, evanescent ways provide Munro's themes. A young woman watches her older sister handle her demanding husband along with other men; an aging man reflects on his love life while worrying about his wife's flirtations in a nursing home. In another writer's hands, these vignettes would fall short of the requirements for literature, but in Munro's experienced hands, these become seeds for enduring, indeed at times breathtaking, art.
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By A Customer on December 11, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Alice Munro's short stories don't always impress me -- some seem too sedate, others too offbeat. However, this collection was very enjoyable. The lead story, which shares its title with the book, is wonderfully ironic and very well written, with characters that are drawn quickly and even sketchily, and yet they have such depth that if I were a critic, I would consider this Munro's masterpiece. All the stories in this collection refer to acts of love, but they are realistic. A woman has an affair that lasts a few hours but in her memories is maintained for a lifetime. Old childhood friends meet again as adults with the outcome far more and far less than the woman expected (the man, as usual, expected nothing). Women learn about themselves not just through romantic relationships but through the loving or non-loving family relationships they find. These are good stories, moving at the calm pace of reminiscences. Very well done. I was sorry when I finished the last story. I wanted more.
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By A Customer on June 12, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Alice Munro is my favorite living writer. Everyone else pales in comparison. My favorite stories in this collection were "Queenie" and "The Bear Came Over the Mountain." Although some other reviewers praised the title story, it was probably my least favorite in the book. (It seemed a little implausible.) I will say that her writing is an acquired taste--one cannot fully appreciate her stories on the first read. It takes me two or three times reading a story to catch all of her references, themes, and symbols. I like reading Munro because of her subtlety. Unlike some other writers of today (e.g. Toni Morrison) who beat you over the head with their heavy-handed symbolism and ideology, Munro focuses on telling a story in which emotions and meaning brew beneath the surface. I have read my favorite Munro story, "Royal Beatings," which is in her "Selected Stories" collection, 8 or 10 times and I never get tired of it. I think some readers are too quick to dismiss her stories as mundane because they revolve around everyday events in the lives of ordinary people. But that is what makes her writing so awe-inspiring--her ability to give profound meaning to the struggles of average characters who are all too human, who are very much like you or me.
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Format: Hardcover
Why would I impulsively urge teenagers to resist [other books]and read Alice Munro? Because, I suspect, they'd be lucky to be set anything that good in post-modern high school.
Munro plunged early into her first marriage and child bearing. There was more to her than the "reproductive daze, swamped by maternal juices", to borrow her sarcasm. She was not drowning, but saving ammunition. She published her first book at 37 and is still there at 70.
Language, sex, love, marriage, fate and death - Munro knows all their rhymes. The title for her 11th book comes from an imagined girls' game, along the lines of he loves me-he loves me not.
The leading situations of the stories appear simple, repetitive even.
Johanna, a stolid home-help, is lured onto the cross-Canada train by faked courtship letters. A widow has to settle affairs after her husband's planned suicide. Suffering cancer, a wife savours a single kiss with a cocky youth. One aspiring writer discovers new slants on sin and death, and another rediscovers a now-married childhood sweetheart.
While one young mother realises the smallness of her married life, another discerns the subtle point of a one-day affair. An older woman puzzles over the fate of Queenie, her lost stepsister.
Routinely, Munro stories take 30-40 pages to get from A to B and back through A again. She is a competitive writer in the best sense, almost preferring death to a failure to engage. She is determined to create some reverberations that the dutiful reader cannot help but absorb.
In Munro, I will accommodate habits that are annoying in lesser writers. I don't mind hearing one more time how she found her vocation. No matter if a single story wants to wander wilfully over three generations.
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Format: Paperback
When you have Alice Munro's short stories, the first question that pops up is who needs a novel? This writer is able to concentrate the whole world in a couple of pages with beauty, sincerity and talent -- doing more than many writers attempt to do in hundreds of pages (and many fails) in only a couple. Her collection "Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage" is one of the best examples of fulfillment, because she manages to create stories that are complete and leave a lot of room for discussion and imagination -- just like the best texts are supposed to be.

The universe that she brings to her stories is populated with human beings dealing with critical situations. Someone who lost a beloved one, another person who is losing her mind, some else who's lost his/her dignity and so on. In other words, these are characters that are somehow living on the edge of a change.

And because they make them so believable, the reader can easily identify him/herself with those people. Moreover, the situation exploited in the plot -- that might read unreal in someone else's hands -- is very plausible. Munro is interested as much as in the inner life of her characters as in the outside life they lead. In this fashion, she is able to fully develop portrays of the human beings that sometimes may seem to want something but are heading to something else -- the eternal paradox of being.

In one of the best stories of this collection, "The Bear that Came Over the Mountain", we have a man dealing with his wife's mental health. But the writer uses this device as a starter, because what she is talking about in this story is faith. The faith we have in other people, the faith we assume we are the one in control.
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