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#1 of 42 Old 10-20-2008, 09:47 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I really enjoy Alice Munro... anyone up for reading Open Secrets with me?

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#2 of 42 Old 10-22-2008, 11:22 PM
 
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I will! Do you want to start with the title story, or go from the beginning to the end?
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#3 of 42 Old 10-24-2008, 11:53 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Oh from beginning to end please!

Where in Ontario are you?

Have you read other Alice Munro?

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#4 of 42 Old 10-25-2008, 12:53 AM
 
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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?
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#5 of 42 Old 10-25-2008, 11:38 PM
 
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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!
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#6 of 42 Old 10-26-2008, 02:28 PM - Thread Starter
 
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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...:::

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#7 of 42 Old 10-29-2008, 03:21 PM - Thread Starter
 
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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!

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#8 of 42 Old 10-29-2008, 11:01 PM - Thread Starter
 
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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.

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#9 of 42 Old 10-30-2008, 12:26 PM - Thread Starter
 
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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?

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#10 of 42 Old 10-31-2008, 12:41 PM
 
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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.
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#11 of 42 Old 10-31-2008, 10:55 PM - Thread Starter
 
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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?

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#12 of 42 Old 11-02-2008, 12:40 PM
 
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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.
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#13 of 42 Old 11-02-2008, 03:07 PM - Thread Starter
 
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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.

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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?


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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.

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#14 of 42 Old 11-02-2008, 11:14 PM
 
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"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.
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#15 of 42 Old 11-02-2008, 11:24 PM - Thread Starter
 
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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?

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#16 of 42 Old 11-02-2008, 11:32 PM
 
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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.
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#17 of 42 Old 11-02-2008, 11:43 PM - Thread Starter
 
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'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.

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#18 of 42 Old 11-03-2008, 12:06 AM
 
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'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.
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#19 of 42 Old 11-03-2008, 12:13 AM - Thread Starter
 
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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.

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#20 of 42 Old 11-03-2008, 10:58 AM
 
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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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#21 of 42 Old 11-03-2008, 02:17 PM - Thread Starter
 
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They could! But I do like them just where they are

I've read the Albanian Virgin and loved it!


Back to ARL for a moment. Isn't it revealing about Millicent's character and values how she speculates Mr. Speirs fell in love with Dorrie. (eg, how she uses her knife and fork, her handwriting...) She just doesn't see Dorrie's depth of character. Funny how friendships can be?


YAY!!! We're on page 2!
I hope more join us!

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#22 of 42 Old 11-03-2008, 11:17 PM
 
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That is funny about Millicent when obviously Spiers fell for Dorrie's handiness with guns and traps, not knives and forks!

So, "The Albanian Virgin" eh? My first and perhaps strongest impression is that I found "The Franciscan" and his relationship with "Lottar" very sexy! But the relationship between Ghurdi (my spelling is probably wrong but my book is not to hand) and Charlotte disappointed me a bit although I'm delighted they stayed together. Is that just an age thing maybe? It bothered me that he was trying to sell his Crucifix when he used to be such a fanatic. But of course he might have had to renounce his faith, as he must have given up his priesthood, to be with her.

Also the funniest scene in the volume so far I thought when both of them are talking to Claire at once during the dinner.

What are your first impressions?
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#23 of 42 Old 11-06-2008, 01:56 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Very sexy, yes and quite romantic that they stayed together. Why did their later relationship disappoint you? I really liked how she appeared to become the dominant force in the relationship.
i need to go back and reread the part about the crucifix...I didn't remember it that way.
This short story has very much the feel of a sweeping epic. It really would make a great movie. Visually it has a lot going on as well. I especially enjoyed the description when Lottar was being prepared to be sold.

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#24 of 42 Old 11-06-2008, 03:19 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I'm also enjoying the theme running through the stories so far of independant women, going out on their own.

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#25 of 42 Old 11-06-2008, 09:07 PM - Thread Starter
 
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aaahhhhhh the crucifix....
I'd like to explore this more.
I love how the Franciscan pushes it on to Lottar in the beginning and that action is repeated again when Ghurji pushes it into Claires hand but she pushes it back.
What do you think the significance of this is between the three characters?

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#26 of 42 Old 11-06-2008, 11:29 PM
 
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Very sexy, yes and quite romantic that they stayed together. Why did their later relationship disappoint you? I really liked how she appeared to become the dominant force in the relationship.
i need to go back and reread the part about the crucifix...I didn't remember it that way.
This short story has very much the feel of a sweeping epic. It really would make a great movie. Visually it has a lot going on as well. I especially enjoyed the description when Lottar was being prepared to be sold.

Oh dear, what does it say about me that her dominance is what disappoints me? (I'm not sure I want to know the answer to that question!) He just seems so . . . tamed. Yes, the story is quite "movie-like." The other stories move about in time; this one moves about in space and time. And Munro is brilliant at making her stories visual and making it seem so easy.
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#27 of 42 Old 11-06-2008, 11:36 PM
 
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aaahhhhhh the crucifix....
I'd like to explore this more.
I love how the Franciscan pushes it on to Lottar in the beginning and that action is repeated again when Ghurji pushes it into Claires hand but she pushes it back.
What do you think the significance of this is between the three characters?

What a great question, but I warn you--you've awoken my inner lapsed-Catholic nerd by asking it.

The Crucifix symbolizes salvation through suffering. Lottar is saved from a boring, conventional life through the suffering of her abduction by the tribe and later by the Franciscan. Claire saves herself from a boring, conventional life through her affair and her leaving both men--she kind of abducts herself, doesn't she? Her refusal could be because she refuses to be saved by Nelson as Lottar is kind of saved by the Franciscan.

The Crucifix also represents the Passion as in suffering, but the word "passion" evokes other meanings. Lots of sexual passion in this story!

Also the Crucifix invites us to die to our old selves, which both women do.

I like the Catholic stuff a lot actually. Both women become nun-like for a period. Lottar's hair is cut like a nun's would be and she is called the Virgin. Claire retreats to her cell-like bookshop. But in both cases it's only temporary . . .
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#28 of 42 Old 11-07-2008, 10:52 AM - Thread Starter
 
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brilliant!

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#29 of 42 Old 11-07-2008, 09:34 PM
 
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Thanks! But it was you who asked the pertinent question.

I have a question I can't come up with an answer for. Why does Charlotte say "That part is not of interest" and then give Claire that look of "vicious disgust"? What do you think that's all about?
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#30 of 42 Old 11-10-2008, 03:28 PM - Thread Starter
 
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sorry I've been AWOL recently.
I'm still plugging along but haven't had much opportunity to post.
I'm going to go back and review to see if I can come up with any answers to your question.

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