Cover image for Lives of mothers & daughters : growing up with Alice Munro
Lives of mothers & daughters : growing up with Alice Munro
Munro, Sheila, 1953-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Toronto : McClelland & Stewart, [2001]

Physical Description:
272 pages : illustrations ; 23 cm
General Note:
"A Douglas Gibson book."

Includes index.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PR9199.3.M8 Z76 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



"So much of what I think I know -- and I think I know more about my mother's life than almost any daughter could know -- is refracted through the prism of her writing. Such is the power of her fiction that sometimes it even feels as though I'm living inside an Alice Munro story." The millions of people around the world who read Alice Munro's work are enthralled by her insight into the human heart. Consider, then, what it would be like to have a mother who was so all-knowing. Worse, if that mother were world-famous as you were growing up and trying to make your own way as a writer, while you yourself followed in her footsteps, raising a family and trying to write on the side. That is Sheila Munro's dilemma, and it gives this book special fascination for anyone interested in their own relationship with their own mother, or their own daughter. This book is, in effect, an intimate, affectionate biography of Alice Munro. It describes in a way that only a close relative could, the details of the family background. We follow the family history from the Laidlaws who left Scotland in the early 19th century, to Alice Munro's birth in 1931, her early years and marriage all the way to the current family, including Alice Munro's grandchildren. One of the many fascinations of the book is that faithful readers of Alice's work -- and are there any other kind? -- will find constant echoes of settings, situations, and characters that occur in her fiction. So this book is not only a fascinating biography of Alice Munro, it also provides an informative commentary to the stories we all know. But Sheila Munro goes further. As a writer growing up in the shadow of a writing mother, she's able to write frankly and personally about being a daughter and about being a writer. With the publication of this book -- richly embellished with scores of family photographs -- Sheila Munro has established herself as a skilled and successful author in her own right. • Includes dozens of fascinating Munro family snapshots scattered throughout the text • Full of real-life details that will fascinate any Alice Munro fan

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Novelist and short-story writer Alice Munro's many readers are certain to find this an intriguing memoir. It is the first book by Munro's daughter, Sheila, now a mother of two children and an aspiring writer living in British Columbia. The book seems in many ways a typical family story, replete with abundant photographs from the family album, images from the 50s through the 90s that would look perfectly comfortable spread out on the coffee table of almost any middle-class North American home. What makes the book extraordinary are the extraordinary accomplishments of the mother under consideration--Alice, a woman who somehow managed to integrate domesticity with a writer's life and who did it, by Sheila's account, with considerable grace and intelligence. Mommie Dearest this is not. Alice Munro's readers will be especially interested in Sheila's descriptions of family events that worked their way into her mother's stories. --Trygve Thoreson

Publisher's Weekly Review

In this affecting memoir, the eldest daughter of literary heavyweight Alice Munro delivers an intimate biography of her famous mom that doesn't flag when the subject turns to herself. Intertwining their life stories, Munro compares their economic situation--Alice grew up on an Ontario farm, and raised Munro in the suburbs of Vancouver--as well as the respective parenting experiences of Alice, Alice's mother, and herself (Munro saw her mother as withdrawn, while Alice saw hers as "moralistic, demanding, smothering, and emotionally manipulative"). In a rich history of both maternal and paternal ancestry, Munro delivers an elegant chronicle of the events that prepared for her the family role of responsible, easy child to her notoriously impatient mother. As an adolescent, Munro's experiences with drugs and partying deepen the bond between daughter and mother, whose surprising understanding marks a turning point for them both. A writer herself, Munro's internal struggle with her mother's fame is ably captured, illuminating anew the child's struggle to create an identity separate from the woman she once worked so hard to please. Fans of Alice Munro will find much to supplement their appreciation of her work. (June) Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

Library Journal Review

Originally published in Canada in 2001, this book tells the story of Canadian author Alice Munro's life and work, as seen through the eyes of her eldest daughter, Sheila. It opens with an account of how Alice met her husband, married, and moved to Vancouver to start a family. The narrative then follows the family's early life and jumps back to tell the stories of Alice's childhood and Sheila's own adolescence and coming-of-age. Each chapter contains references to Alice's literary work as Sheila analyzes the interdependence of her mother's writing and their "real life story" as a family. Though of most interest to those familiar with Alice's novels and short stories, this book also stands on its own as a study of what it's like being the daughter of an artist. It gently tackles the experience of living with a writer and how this affected Sheila's finding her own voice in the same medium. Suited to both academic and public libraries.--Rebecca Bollen Manalac, Sydney, Australia (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.