Alice Munro proves herself once more to be one of the greatest living short story writers. In this perfect new collection, each story is as satisfying and richly worked as a novel.
Whole lives come into focus through single events or sudden memories which bring the past bubbling to the surface. The past, as Munro's characters discover, is made up not only of what is remembered, but also what isn't. The past is out there, just out of the picture, but if memories haven't been savoured, recalled in the mind and boxed away, it's as if they have never been - until a moment when the pieces of the jigsaw re-form suddenly, sometimes pleasurably but more often painfully.
Women look back at their young selves, at first marriages made when they were naive and trusting, at husbands and their difficult, demanding little ways. In this new collection there is underlying heartbreak, a sense of regret in her characters for what might have been, for a fork in the road not taken, a memory suppressed in an act of prudent emotional housekeeping.
But there is also hope, there are second chances - here are people who reinvent themselves, seize life by the throat, who have moved on and can risk conjuring up the hidden memories, daring to go beyond what is actually remembered.