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Open Secrets by Alice Munro

post #1 of 42
Thread Starter 
I really enjoy Alice Munro... anyone up for reading Open Secrets with me?
post #2 of 42
I will! Do you want to start with the title story, or go from the beginning to the end?
post #3 of 42
Thread Starter 
Oh from beginning to end please!

Where in Ontario are you?

Have you read other Alice Munro?
post #4 of 42
Hi, I'm in North Bay (you?) and I believe I've read all but the last two books (but I've forgotten a lot of what I've read).

Okay, let's post our comments after reading each story?

Anyone else interested?
post #5 of 42
I've finished "Carried Away" -- don't read the rest of the post if you haven't.




Spoiler Space









So, I'm not sure I "get it." I think the sentence that sums up the story is "Love never dies" but does Louisa die at the end? At first it seems as if she's dreaming Jack Agnew and wakes up with the Mennonites, but then she says "What place is this?" which is a strange and eerie question. And what's with ending the story with an event which takes place before the story begins?

Another quick impression: this is an unusual story for Munro in having many likeable characters, I think, and also good relationships between Louisa and her men. I don't read much blame assigned to anyone.

It's a complex read and we could probably talk about this one story alone for months!
post #6 of 42
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Murihiku View Post
Hi, I'm in North Bay (you?) and I believe I've read all but the last two books (but I've forgotten a lot of what I've read).

Okay, let's post our comments after reading each story?

Anyone else interested?
I'm near Durham, Ontario which is about an hour south of Owen Sound. Near 'Alice Munro country'. My parents used to live in Elliot Lake and that's the closest I've been to your neck of the woods.

I haven't quite finished 'Carried Away' yet...hang on...:::
post #7 of 42
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Murihiku View Post

So, I'm not sure I "get it." I think the sentence that sums up the story is "Love never dies" but does Louisa die at the end? At first it seems as if she's dreaming Jack Agnew and wakes up with the Mennonites, but then she says "What place is this?" which is a strange and eerie question. And what's with ending the story with an event which takes place before the story begins?

Another quick impression: this is an unusual story for Munro in having many likeable characters, I think, and also good relationships between Louisa and her men. I don't read much blame assigned to anyone.

It's a complex read and we could probably talk about this one story alone for months!
Finally finished it, with many interruptions along the way...not my ideal way to read a story.

I'm not sure I 'get it' either. It deserves a reread.

Louisa is an intriguing character and it's an intriguing situation. I question if it's even about love. Does the real (not imagined) Jack love Louisa? I question Louisa's love for Jack.

Back later, DD's up!
post #8 of 42
Thread Starter 
I dunno what i was posting about up there

I just found Jack so cowardly, leaving a note for Louisa. But I guess he must of had strong feelings for her to write her in the first place. I just don't get it.

How do you fall in love with someone you've never actually met? (knowingly). And yet Louisa recalls him so many years later.

Anyhow, I don't think that's Louisa dying at the end. I think she's just confused from her hallucination and that's why she asks where she is.

do you really find the characters so likeable?

Like I said earlier i find Jack cowardly.

Louisa also frustrated me with her passivity. i just wanted her to seek Jack out.

I did like Arthur Doud. it took great courage and composure to do what he did.
post #9 of 42
Thread Starter 
I feel like Louisa doesn't expect much for herself. She like Hardy although he's 'gloomy', she finds him true to life. Also with her entanglement with the doctor she has doubts about his exit from the relationship.

There's some good foreshadowing in LETTERS when Jack writes about the man that died of the heart attack. Louisa also mentions a man who had an accident at Douds.

I really like the use of the Tolpuddle Martyrs event. They were found guilty of 'swearing false oaths' (like Jack). Louisa finds 'martyr' an exaggeration because they were not executing. One immediately thinks of Jacks beheading as punishment for his false accusations of love.

We can go on this forever...


I have finished "Real Life' but we can stick on Carried Away for longer if you like. Maybe some more people will join in?
post #10 of 42
Quick reply now, more to come:

Yes the story does ask what love is if you can love someone you've never known.

Interestingly, the relationship forged through letters at the beginning makes me think of all the relationships of various kinds formed today online between people who will never meet IRL.

Sorry, must go to baby--more later.
post #11 of 42
Thread Starter 
It's just so low of Jack to leave her a note at her desk. It makes me furious on Louisa's behalf!

But it's interesting that you mention that because i started to think about that myself...When we forge a relationship with someone in a way other than in person, do you think we inflect a lot of fantasy into our idea of them or the relationship?
post #12 of 42
I think even in person we project a lot of fantasy. That's why marriage is one long period of adjustment!

I agree that Jack is a coward but I sympathize with him anyway. Perhaps I just like him because he falls for a librarian.

Arthur is brave and good, and I like him a lot.

I'm ready to move on so my next post will be about the next story, perhaps comparing it to this one.
post #13 of 42
Thread Starter 

On to 'A Real Life'

Quote:
Originally Posted by Murihiku View Post
I think even in person we project a lot of fantasy. That's why marriage is one long period of adjustment!
Excellent point! Perhaps even more so? Maybe you can learn a lot more about a person through text. Appearances, gestures, actions have the potential to blind us.
That's a very good definition of marriage.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Murihiku View Post
I agree that Jack is a coward but I sympathize with him anyway. Perhaps I just like him because he falls for a librarian.
:
You wouldn't happen to be a librarian, would you?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Murihiku View Post

Arthur is brave and good, and I like him a lot.
Me too! It bothers me that he doesn't come across as Louisa's true love as much as being 'seconds'.

SPOILER SPACE





Similarly in 'A Real Life', there's that moment when realize that Dorrie doesn't really want to marry Mr. Speirs as much as keep her own life. The romance (also primarily through letters, though the reader isn't privy to them) and engagement seems lacking in passion and more about convenience.
post #14 of 42
"A Real Life" is a weird story, isn't it? Did you find yourself wanting Dorrie to go through with it, just like Millicent does? I did. I think it's because while in "real life" I know that being single is better for some than being married (and indeed I fantasize about the freedom, silence, and solitude!), I feel that a story that doesn't end in marriage is disappointing somehow. Imagine a Jane Austen novel where they don't get married (shudder!). So it's very interesting that Munro titled this story "A Real Life."

Reading it made me think about how when I read obituaries in the newspaper I always look to see if the person married and had children, as if that would make that person's life more "real" somehow.

Yet Dorrie who was content in singlehood was much more "real" than Muriel who sparkled with artifice in her desire to get married.

Interesting stuff.
post #15 of 42
Thread Starter 
hmmm....I can't say that i did. I really and truly felt for her at that moment. She is such a strong and independent character and because Munro never really reveals much of Mr. Speirs character (or Dorrie's feelings for him) it emphasized how much she was giving up. It was more than just 'cold feet'.

do you think the title is ironic?

I did feel that in spite of her tremendous difficulty in leaving home that her life was fulfilled in the marriage (although not because of it). She continued to be adventurous and independent didn't she?
post #16 of 42
I do think the title is ironic--after all, what is a "fake life"?

I think perhaps I wanted the marriage to go ahead just because I worry about the scandal and inconvenience--me projecting my own hang-ups onto the fiction!

Yes, it was nice that Dorrie continued her wild ways. Interesting that a man from England finds a "wild wife" from Canada and then takes her to the even more wild Australia--it's a real British Empire story, this one!

The story is just really complex, in true Munro fashion.
post #17 of 42
Thread Starter 
'A Real Life'

What does it mean?

A legitimate existence within the societal norms, ie, a woman should be married (even better if he's rich) a la Millicent's view

OR

A life true to one's heart, interests and passions


...and then where does poor Muriel fit in to all of this? Do you get the feeling maybe she was ahead of her time? She settled because she felt she had to. I don't feel that it fulfilled her. If this story took place today I think Muriel could go on quite happily playing the field, partying without feeling left behind.
post #18 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by BaBaBa View Post
'A Real Life'

What does it mean?

A legitimate existence within the societal norms, ie, a woman should be married (even better if he's rich) a la Millicent's view

OR

A life true to one's heart, interests and passions
That's a brilliant analysis of the title!

As for Muriel, yes I think today she'd be quite a bit more comfortable with her life--well, except for the married men bit!!

Oh and btw, I'm not a librarian.
post #19 of 42
Thread Starter 
You just have librarian sympathies

and really Dorrie is the only one who lives a 'real life'. Millicent and Muriel are both unfulfilled in their lives in spite of them marrying. Dorrie leads a real life because she is a real person. She has interests, passions which she is true to and pursues. She would have led a 'Real Life' no matter what the outcome was.
post #20 of 42
You know, the two stories we've read so far could easily have their titles switched.

Unlike the next one, which I'm going to start . . .
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