Sunday, March 30, 2008

A Story With Many Lives

Alice Munro wrote a story that was published in “The New Yorker” in 1997 entitled, “The Bear Went Over The Mountain.” Not long after the story was published, a young Canadian actress and screen writer, Sarah Polley, fell in love with the story and wanted to make it into a film. Sarah Polley made the story into a film called “Away From Her”, starring Julie Christie. Ms. Christie, after a long hiatus from film making, was nominated for best actress in 2007, for her role, as Fiona, in the film, “Away From Her”.

I read the "The Bear Went Over The Mountain" in The New Yorker a few years ago. Recently I purchased the novella, ”Away From Her”, not making the connection. As I began to read the story I realized that I had read it before. I usually don’t like to reread a story/book because I feel there are so many new books to read and discover. But, this is a memorable story and one that is more than worthwhile to reread.

Alice Munro is a prolific writer, who writes beautiful, lyrical prose. “Away From Her” is a story of love and marriage. The story is told from the viewpoint of Grant, the husband, a retired college professor, whose wife of over 30 years begins to lose her memory and drift away from him. Fiona is always the force behind Grant. When Fiona laughingly suggested to Grant that they get married, he said “Yes, yes!” because he wanted “never to be away from her.”

This is a story of a marriage and all the twists and turns that evolve over thirty years. Grant was a loving but often unfaithful husband. When he is forced to retire, Fiona and Grant move to her family’s isolated farmhouse. There Fiona begins to lose her sense of the past. They go together to see a (nursing) “home”. Fiona eventually settles into the routine of the home and Grant returns to their empty house. What follows describes the essence of love. Grant is dismayed when Fiona doesn’t recognize him. But, the ending of the story tells of a haunting act of selflessness and love committed by Grant. One that takes the reader by surprise. Reading Alice Munro is like watching an artist paint a picture. All the blurs and smudges (of the characters) evolve into in a work of art. Reading this haunting story gives the reader insight into why Sarah Polley was so obsessed with the story and wanted to share it with the world.

You can read the story from “The New Yorker,” at

1 comment:

  1. I tried the link and received an Error message - not able to access the story.