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Author Study: Alice Munro Curated by Jenny Fu '20

Thank you so much for visiting this LibGuide about Alice Munro! Whether you are here for a class, leisure, or pure curiosity, you will definitely find something valuable. I hope you will enjoy and get to know Alice Munro.

Notable Works



Alice Munro specializes in the art of writing short stories and has published numerous collections, contributing much to the literary world. The following are several popular and personal suggestions of what to read! I hope you enjoy. 



"Free Radicals" (2008) -- Too Much Happiness

  • First published on The New Yorker in 2008 and collected in Too Much Happiness in 2009 
  • A thrilling horror fiction entails the story of Nita, an elderly widowed woman struggling with cancer, finds her house intruded by a murderer. 
  • Bits and pieces of Nita and the murderer's pasts gradually reveal themselves. 
    • The murderer's family 
    • Nita's deceitful past. 
  • Will Nita use the lies that haunted her to save herself from death? 
  • The engaging plot will be a shocking read when you get to the last page. 


"The man’s head had fallen sideways, the woman’s backward. Their expressions were blown away. The sister had fallen forward, so there was no face to be seen, just her great flowery swathed knees and dark hair with its elaborate and outdated coiffure." 

                                                                                                                     -- Free Radicals (2008)



"Child's Play" (2009) -- Too Much Happiness

  • Published in 2009 in short story collection Too Much Happiness. 
  • Children are harmless. After all, they are just children... "Child's Play" entails the story of Marlene and Charlene at summer camp with group out-cast Verna. Hatred and prejudice accumulate into crime. A happy summer camp experience soon turns up-side-down and becomes a life-long horror story. 
  • Once again, Munro exposes the dark side of human nature: are children truly naive or merely using it as a mask? 


"Swimming was over. Over for the summer, for those who lived out of reach of the lake or municipal swimming pools. Private pools were only in the movie magazines. As I've said, my memory fails when it comes to parting from Charlene, getting into my parents' car. Because it didn't matter. At that age, things ended. You expected things to end." 

                                                                                                                     -- "Child's Play" (2009)



"The Beggar Maid" (1978) -- The Beggar Maid

  • Published in 1978 in short story collection The Beggar Maid (Canadian version: Who Do You Think You Are?)
  • Humans are complicated with emotions, culture, background, and selfishness. When country-side girl Rose meets wealthy Patrick at University, the two soon fell in love. Rose was Patrick's "white goddess," but what was Patrick to Rose? Despite numerous fluctuations in their relationship, the couple married. But was it love that held them together? 
  • Munro utilizes two of her most prominent themes, love and relationship, to convey something more than just a simple love story. 


"She hurried away then, down the long varicoloured corridor, shaking. She had seen Patrick; Patrick had seen her; he had made that face. But she was not really able to understand how she could be an enemy. How could anybody hate Rose so much, at the very moment when she was ready to come forward with her good will, her smiling confession of exhaustion, her air of diffident faith in civilized overtures? 

Oh, Patrick could. Patrick could."

                                                                                                   -- "The Beggar Maid" (1978)



 "Carried Away" (1991) -- Carried Away

  • Published in 1991 under short story collection "Carried Away" 
  • Protagonist Louisa resides in Carstairs, Ontario and works at Carstairs Public Library as a librarian. She receives a "fan mail" from Jack Agnew, a soldier in World War I. The two exchange letters back and forth; the relationship develops romantically. However, the pre-destined separation mounts into a tragic life-and-death divide. 
  • With a complicated structure and character relationships, Munro slowly digs into her character's past and present.


"It was then that she decided to keep the Library open, though the flu was raging. Every day she was sure he would come, every day she was prepared for him... She understood now how people believed they had seen ghosts... No one spoke his name."

                                                                                                                 -- "Carried Away" (1991) 



"The Moons of Jupiter" (1978) -- The Moons of Jupiter

  • First published in 1978 on The New Yorker, the story was later collected in The Moons of Jupiter. 
  • What does success mean? How does acceptance play a role in life? Janet visits her father, who suffers from cardiac issues, at Toronto General Hospital. Through the process, she reflects about her past, daughters, and father. 


The escaped child, the survivor, and old man trapped here by his leaky heart. I didn't pursue these thoughts. I didn't care to think of his younger selves. Even his bare torso, thick and white... the wrinkled neck... its thin gray hair and mustache, were more what I was used too. 

                                                                                                          -- The Moons of Jupiter (1978)



"Dimensions" (2006) -- Too Much Happiness

  • Published in 2006 and collected under Too Much Happiness. 
  • Doree met doctor Lloyd when she was sixteen and gave birth to Dimitri, Barbara Ann, and Sasha -- whom all perished at the hands of her most beloved husband. Now a chambermaid at Blue Spruce Inn undergoing social care, Doree receives a letter from her husband: her children might still be alive. 
  • In a unique time structure that travels back and forth, the story of Doree's past is slowly revealed. 


"For some time Doree kept stuffing whatever she could grab into her mouth. After the dirt and grass it was sheets or towels or her own clothing. As if she were trying to stifle not just the howls that rose upbut the scene in her head. 

                                                                                                                      -- Dimensions (2006)