Runaway, by Canadian Nobel Laureate Alice Munro is an agonizing and raw, albeit beautifully written, collection of nine short stories that tackle the lives of various women and their surroundings.
Illustrating issues from daily lives of women, it gives a tormenting view on situations that we can all find ourselves in at one point or another, from the unhappy wife running away from home, to the mother living in sin, to the guilty pleasures of a young woman away from her fiance and only boyfriend, and the impatient anticipation that changes the life of a nurse and leaves her in a wondering agony for the best part of her life.
Story by story, it shows how chance and unintended consequences can dramatically alter the outcomes of certain actions and ultimately of our lives. Why I found to be the most harrowing notion of the book is the irony of getting a closure that made us wish we never knew what actually happened.
Suddenly, I found myself thinking of how many little and benign incidents contribute to shaping our lives for the better or the worse, we will never know. And this is really the most I got out of the book, despite it being beautifully written, powerfully fulfilling and painfully daunting.
Perhaps, its most wonderful feature is that it takes simple and ordinary life events and dissects them into ways that would drive us to madness if we were to lead our lives thinking in that way. By naming and personalizing the characters and situating them into specific places (such as Whales Bay, BC) and sometimes time periods, the reader can no longer ignore the personalized feeling that this can happen to anybody.
We all are or know a Grace, a Carla or a Robin, it is more often that we barely see it.