Amazon Best Books of the Month, November 2009: “She hated to hear the word ‘escape’ used about fiction. She might have argued, not just playfully, that it was real life that was the escape. But this was too important to argue about.” Taken from a story called “Free Radicals,” this line may be the best way to think about the lives unfolding in Alice Munro’s Too Much Happiness. Real life assaults her central characters rather brutally-in the forms of murder and madness, death, divorce, and all manner of deceptions-but they respond with a poise and clarity of thought that’s disarming-sometimes, even nonchalant-when you consider their circumstances. Her women move through life, wearing their scars but not so much wearied by them, profoundly intelligent, but also inordinately tender and thoughtful. There’s more fact than fiction to these stories, rich in quiet, precise details that make for a beautiful, bewildering read.