Don’t you just love the title of this book? The title is taken from the last short story in this collection, where Munro writes a biography of Sophia Kovalevsky, a Russian mathematician novelist from nineteen century. The story is limited to the days leading to her death, with flashbacks to her earlier life. Unfortunately, although it is fascinating to read about a talented mathematician and how she navigates her fame since getting an award from Stockholm (not Nobel Prize), I didn’t enjoy the story. Sophia is viewed by both genders as more of an outcast than admired, and so she learned, that life can be perfectly satisfying without major achievements. It could be brimful of occupations which did not weary you to the bone.
Thankfully I enjoyed some of the other stories, filled with honest observation of the human psyche and often ending with a twist that I need to re-read the final part to understand.
I really like how most of the stories are based on ordinary characters with certain flaws – like a facial birthmark on Face – that has inspired her. Child’s Play describes two girls who did something to a special need girl during a summer camp. The incident haunted one until her deathbed, but is forgotten by the other.
Reading Munro gives me many inspiring prompts to what I could write – an excellent mentor to a newbie short story writer like me.