Friday, November 22, 2013

Book Review: The View from Castle Rock

I blindly stumbled upon this one - literally. One day, I dashed into the library hoping to select a new audio book to listen to while I clean the kitchen every morning. Unfortunately, I realized that I had left my glasses out in the van and didn't have time to run back out to get them. Thus, as I wandered the aisle of audio selections, I could only really make out the author name and title. Someone in my book club recently mentioned Alice Munro and I had never read any of her books. Thus, I grabbed this one up without really knowing what it was about.

Once I began listening, however, I was intrigued because the introduction promised stories from her ancestors' trip to America and also the story of her relationship with a boy from The Salvation Army.  My ears perked up. I think it was my desire to get to the bottom of that story which led me to continue listening.

Part memoir, part fiction, Alice Munro has taken actual facts of her history and pieced together a fictionalized version of the story. It begins with a young boy, at Edinburgh Castle Rock, catching his father's dream of moving to America. The stories of life aboard the sailing vessel are interesting and engaging. Then, new life is established in America and eventually the stories lead to the author's growing up years in Canada.

It is during her early years in Canada that Munro begins to take an interest in someone her family would consider scandalous - someone from the rag-tag group of soldiers in The Salvation Army. I have to say, I was a bit disappointed with this bit of the story. The individual wasn't a good representative for the Army and the story of her relationship ended badly, sorry to say.

It kept my interest while listening and wasn't a wasted venture, but it won't go on my list of all-time favorites from the year's reading. Nor will I probably seek out another Munro book. However, in searching for information about the author, I discovered that she has recently won the Nobel Prize in Literature for 2013. Perhaps that is why someone was mentioning her. Given that fact, I might reconsider attempting another of her offerings, but I'm not sure. Still, if you are interested in the history of emigrants from Scotland or the history of the Lake Huron area of Canada, you might find this selection to be just your cup of tea.

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