Customer Reviews for

Too Much Happiness

Average Rating 3.5
( 61 )
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5 Star

(18)

4 Star

(14)

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(12)

2 Star

(12)

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(5)

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

Great Short Stories, As Usual

I think Alice Munro is one of the most talented living author of short stories. For anyone who has never read a Munro story, don't be fooled by the kindly, harmless-looking old lady photo in the back cover flap. Munro provides just enough interesting surface details to ...
I think Alice Munro is one of the most talented living author of short stories. For anyone who has never read a Munro story, don't be fooled by the kindly, harmless-looking old lady photo in the back cover flap. Munro provides just enough interesting surface details to lure a reader into her characters' lives - until she's got you irretrievably involved in the dark underbelly of those details. Believably bizarre and macabre events in a person's life story, drawn in the most delicate prose.

All that said, I did not love all the stories in this collection. For instance, the "title track" feels too experimental, not as clean and well-crafted as the others. "Wenlock Edge" could also be shored up a bit. Although it is intricate and involved and plays around interestingly with literotica, one suddenly feels as though Munro got bored or lazy and ended the story as quickly as she could; and although her ending is the usual elegant, understated affair, the part just beforehand feels as though it got lobbed off. Aside from those two, however, the collection lives up to Munro's usual high standard. In my opinion, the best two stories are "Fiction" and "Free Radicals" (especially the former) - and "Dimensions" is a fabulous opener. The most disturbing, "Child's Play," succeeds on a double level in that Munro produces the same effect on the reader that the child storyteller is trying to achieve on her friend. Wonderful.

If you like short stories in the (non-Southern) tradition of Flannery O'Connor, I am sure you will like most of this collection.

posted by MJinPA on May 5, 2010

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Most Helpful Critical Review

3 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

I absolutely hated this book. Each story was more and more depre

I absolutely hated this book. Each story was more and more depressing and sorrowful. Not in a thought provoking way , either. I would have stopped reading after the first one but I kept hoping that the stories would get better. They didn't. This book was terrible and I ...
I absolutely hated this book. Each story was more and more depressing and sorrowful. Not in a thought provoking way , either. I would have stopped reading after the first one but I kept hoping that the stories would get better. They didn't. This book was terrible and I would NOT recommend it to anyone. 

posted by 1755105 on December 3, 2012

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 3, 2012

    I absolutely hated this book. Each story was more and more depre

    I absolutely hated this book. Each story was more and more depressing and sorrowful. Not in a thought provoking way , either. I would have stopped reading after the first one but I kept hoping that the stories would get better. They didn't. This book was terrible and I would NOT recommend it to anyone. 

    3 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted May 5, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Great Short Stories, As Usual

    I think Alice Munro is one of the most talented living author of short stories. For anyone who has never read a Munro story, don't be fooled by the kindly, harmless-looking old lady photo in the back cover flap. Munro provides just enough interesting surface details to lure a reader into her characters' lives - until she's got you irretrievably involved in the dark underbelly of those details. Believably bizarre and macabre events in a person's life story, drawn in the most delicate prose.

    All that said, I did not love all the stories in this collection. For instance, the "title track" feels too experimental, not as clean and well-crafted as the others. "Wenlock Edge" could also be shored up a bit. Although it is intricate and involved and plays around interestingly with literotica, one suddenly feels as though Munro got bored or lazy and ended the story as quickly as she could; and although her ending is the usual elegant, understated affair, the part just beforehand feels as though it got lobbed off. Aside from those two, however, the collection lives up to Munro's usual high standard. In my opinion, the best two stories are "Fiction" and "Free Radicals" (especially the former) - and "Dimensions" is a fabulous opener. The most disturbing, "Child's Play," succeeds on a double level in that Munro produces the same effect on the reader that the child storyteller is trying to achieve on her friend. Wonderful.

    If you like short stories in the (non-Southern) tradition of Flannery O'Connor, I am sure you will like most of this collection.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted February 7, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Our finest short story writer

    The stories in Alice Munro's latest work, Too Much Happiness, are almost too vivid. Her characters, original and offbeat, find themselves doing and saying incredible things, but the stories are so well written, the prose is so flawless, the detail so exactly right, that the reader never questions the likelihood of such events. The masterful plots, leading often to horror by the most pedestrian of events, stick with you, haunting you and unsettling you. In one story, "Wendlock Edge" (the title is taken from a Housman poem), for example, the young woman narrator is asked to dinner at the home of a old rich man, a man we know for his ability to control the narrator's roommate, Nina, a girl who once "got herself pregnant," blames herself for he unhappy encounters with men, in other words. The manipulator's assistant instructs the narrator to strip before entering the dining room and she sits naked through dinner. Then the old pervert and the young woman adjuourn to the library where he asks her to read from A Shropshire Lad, instructing her, almost casually, not to cross her legs. It is not a seduction scene but a sexual assault, and as we read we realize the young woman will be haunted for a long time for her complicity in her own violation. When Nina runs away from her "sugar daddy/abuser," the narrator, perhaps to hit back at Nina, who had suggested she take her place at the dinner, informs the old manipulator where Nina is, and they disappear together.

    In another story, a successful woman looks back on her past in such a way that we are confused. She has never married, never maintained relationships; she seems to suffer from some form of world-weariness or ennui; then she learns that a woman she hasn't seen in years has died and requested of her a favor. When the woman tries to carry out the friend's dying request, we come to understand the secret she and the friend had kept since childhood, the secret that had destroyed their lives--their murder of a special education student while they were at camp; her past has haunted her, we come to realize, as surely as the past of young woman of Wenlock Edge will haunt her in the future.

    Munro has so much insight, so great an understanding of the human heart, that the stories, as artful as they are, come to feel almost like the stories close friends tell each other when they have nothing to hide and all the time in the world. These masterpieces of fiction in the hands of almost any other writer would have become novels, and we would have lost the intensity that Munro generates by restricting the size of her canvas.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 6, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    What a waste of paper!

    It was very difficult to even finish this book. Yawn. I enjoy sharing my books with other friends and family; however, this one will not be circulated as I cannot justify putting someone else through the misery of hoping the stories will get better. They don't.

    2 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 21, 2013

    If you're looking for happiness, it is not in this book.  The de

    If you're looking for happiness, it is not in this book.  The depressing opening story is a staple on the evening news and frankly a waste of the non-refundable moments of my life.  Ms. Munro is a fabulous writer, but I most likely will not read her again unless I find something a little less tragic. 

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 10, 2013

    recommended

    The rest of my bookclub praised this book. I found the stories quite strange and had some difficulty connecting to them. Her writing is wonderful, the stories not my favorite.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 27, 2012

    Beautiful prose and engaging stories

    Alice Munro is my all time favorite author. In my opinion there is nothing else you could possibly want from a writer. That said, if you like plot-driven stories, this is probably not the book for you. These stories are very character-driven. If you've read other of Munro's books, I think you'll find that this one has a little bit of a darker edge.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 15, 2010

    Don't Bother

    I struggled to get through this. Some of the stories were okay, but most were unenjoyable. I would not recommend this.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 4, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Message to Alice

    This is too much "bordem!"

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 28, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I don't get it.

    Maybe it's just me but these stories didn't move me. I couldn't wait to finish the book; almost didn't. Everything was just too simple and light.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 29, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    This great ten story anthology looks deep into relationships with strong characterizations

    This great ten story anthology looks deep into relationships with strong characterizations. Nine of the contributions are under forty pages; only the title entry is longer at sixty pages. As always Alice Munroe provides her audience with a profound collection.

    In "Dimensions" Doree grieves on the bus for her three children who were murdered by their father so they would not suffer the same misery he suffered of their mother leaving them. "Fiction" stars Christie who tells the stories of her stepmother the music teacher in a published anthology. "Wenlock Edge" college student explains how her roommate fools her into going on a dinner date with her lover. Sally learns how "Deep-Holes" in marriage can become. In "Free Radicals", Nita's friends are there at first while she grieves, but she rejects them; now she is moving on and needs them but none are there for her as they were hurt by her when they needed her. His father stared at his "Face" once after he was born and never looked at his son's disfigured face again. Young Mr. Crozier is surrounded by "Some Women" while dying from leukemia; but keeps a stiff upper lip so as not to alarm the female retinue who hide their melancholy from him while caring for him. In "Child's Play" Marlene and Charlene become summer camp BFFs, but torture Verna until Marlene muses over "How can you blame a person for the way she was born?" "Wood" centers on Roy who refinishes furniture, but works alone since he and his wife Lea never had no children. He is hurt and all alone apparently dying in The Deserted Forest. "Too Much Happiness" centers on Russian mathematician Sophia Kovalevski who has found men limit her choices; still she writes stories in spite of her father insisting she is selling herself and obtains a teaching position in Sweden in spite of her lover living in Paris as she reuses to allow males to limit her.

    Harriet Klausner

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 14, 2013

    don't even think about it

    This book was a collection of horrendously sad stories that were soooo depressing. Not sure why the title had anything to do with happiness. I stopped reading because I couldn't take another sad tale. The stories are not even connected in any way. I couldn't leave it as no stars but that is what I gave it.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 26, 2013

    Wonderful book!

    This is a book with several stories - Munro uses language like a paintbrush - giving shading and color to the story. I liked all of the several stories - none better than the others. I believe she richly has deserved her Nobel prize for literature this year. I only need to see her name on a book and will automatically buy it.

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  • Posted February 21, 2010

    Simple Wonderful

    A perfect book for pleasure.

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  • Posted January 12, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    The art of the short story.

    Ms. Munro is a master of the short story, an under appreciated art form for most of the book buying public. Monro's fiction is more true to reality than most non fiction, if that makes sense? Her female characters live and breath and are typically facing the hard realities of life, but no matter how hard life smacks them around these ladies take the hands they are dealt and go on living with a poise and confidence. There is a snappiness to her writing that somehow makes descriptions of the most dreadful circumstances more readable. A dark danger sometimes pervades, survival of the ego on display and that satisfying twist at the end. All this is woven together with an elegance and poignancy that creates one beautiful, beguiling story after another!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 10, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted March 5, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted December 14, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted December 2, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted November 28, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

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