In the first story, a young wife and mother receives release from the unbearable pain of losing her three children from a most surprising source. In another, a young woman, in the aftermath of an unusual and humiliating seduction, reacts in a clever, if less than admirable, fashion.
Other stories uncover the "deep holes" in a marriage, the unsuspected cruelty of children, and how a boy's disfigured face provides both the good things in his life and the bad. And in the long title story, we accompany Sophia Kovalevsky - a late-19th-century Russian émigré and mathematician - on a winter journey that takes her from the Riviera, where she visits her lover, to Paris, Germany, and Denmark, where she has a fateful meeting with a local doctor, and finally to Sweden, where she teaches at the only university in Europe willing to employ a female mathematician.
With clarity and ease, Alice Munro once again renders complex, difficult events and emotions into stories that shed light on the unpredictable ways in which men and women accommodate and often transcend what happens in their lives.
Too Much Happiness is a compelling, provocative - even daring - collection.
©2009 Alice Munro; (P)2009 Random House
I just loved all of the short stories featured in this book. Every single one of them was entrancing, interesting and plunged the reader in a different universe each time! I listen to audio books while I walk in the forest or in my neighborhood and Alice Munro kept me company for weeks on end!!
The narrator does a fine job. She goes on my list of good narrators. I' ve read everything Munro has written, and it seems her plots are in an Arbus-like downward spiral. These stories are grim and depressing. I thought of Flannery O'Connor, but those bizarre stories are cloaked in an amusing demented atmosphere and southern sensibility, and Munro's are addressed as plain reality. Murder, cancer, depravity, on and down. Not fun.
The substance (performance, writing, etc.) of this audiobook is great, but the tracks are sloppily organized. This is a volume of short stories, so each story should begin at 0:00 on a separate track. For some reason, it's not organized like that. The third story, for example, starts roughly 55 minutes into the second track. Why do that? I remember Runaway, another Alice Munro collection, having the same problem. Please fix this.
I love Alice Munro but as usual some of the stories are better than others - I mean they are all well written but sometimes the plot or subject have more appeal to me than others. My favorite and the most mesmerizing was the last story "Too Much Happiness" and it was based on a real person - a Russian mathematician. Completely engrossing. I could definitely listen to that one again.
Other Alice Munro collections - I have read many of them.
I was not crazy about the readers - I like books to be read, not acted. No one (well almost no one) can keep changing voices successfully. The type of reader I like is like Colin Firth or Jeremy Irons - they are believeable when reading both male and female voices. I think that is because they don't try too hard to change the pitch.
I am a very busy graphic designer. I love to listen to audiobooks as I work. To relax, I take an audiobook with me on a long walk.
Alice Munro is a wonderful writer. Even though this is a collection of short stories the character development in each one is thorough. I read the first four of these stories. Each one was interesting to listen to - until the end. Each ending was such a disappointment (they just stop with no satisfying conclusion!) that I cannot bring myself to read the rest.
I bought this one because the description (and the title story) is about a female mathematician's life - of great relevance to my own career. And, as it turns out, it is indeed a part biography of THE Sonia Kovalevskaya, who is well known in mathematics! Not a made-up story but a true story, that Alice Munro tells us, was inspired by her reading of "Little Sparrow".
I liked that part of the book and found it both engrossing, poignant, and moving. How times have changed (thank goodness!)
As for the rest of the collection in this book, I still have to think about what the author is trying to tell us. I "don't get it" yet. But it has gotten me thinking.
The performance is fine, but I don't like the distraction of switching between male and female voices. If the narrator is good enough, we should be carried along no matter what gender.
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