At the centre of 'Runaway' are three stories connected into one marvellously rich, long narrative, about Juliet - who escapes from teaching at a girls' school into a wild and passionate love match; then returns to the home of her parents, whose life and curious marriage she finally begins to examine; while in the third part of her story, her vanished child turns up caught in the grip of a religious cult. The whole picture emerges only when all the pieces of the jigsaw are finally in place. The runaway of the disturbing title story is Carla, a congenital 'bolter', who has neighbourly fantasies that take on a frightening afterlife.
Elsewhere, a stagestruck girl finds life is more Shakespearean than even she imagines; while Tessa, a young country woman with strange powers cannot foresee what will happen if she makes off with a plausible charmer. Munro's stories unravel layers of the past, and different versions of the truth: her characters learn that if you look too
closely at anything - the past, the truth - it may crumble. 'Runaway' is about the power and betrayals, and twists, of love, about lost children, lost chances. There is pain and desolation beneath the surface, like a needle in the heart, which makes them more powerful and compelling than anything she has written.