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The Beggar Maid by Alice Munro

The Beggar Maid: Stories of Flo and Rose - Alice Munro

This is my first Alice Munro, and it clearly deserves its literary accolades. It’s a short story collection that follows the same characters more or less chronologically through their lives: a girl and later woman named Rose, and her stepmother, Flo. The characters are certainly believable, and I became more engaged with it in the latter 2/3 of the book, as Rose becomes an adult living her own life and making adult choices – many will disagree with me on this point, but to me there’s only so much that can be done with child protagonists.

So, this is a strong literary book. It’s very well-written, with enough packed into even short sentences to warrant (and reward) re-reading. The characters are engaging, and their decisions and the ways they are affected by their lives are entirely credible. I did not have a strong emotional connection to the book or find myself thinking about it when not reading it, so maybe it wasn’t the best choice for me; maybe one of Munro’s more recent collections would have inspired a stronger reaction. But I’d certainly recommend it to those who are interested.