Alice Munro’s Too Much Happiness is a wonderful collection of short stories featuring characters confronting destruction of their families, destruction of their marriages, illness, death, and guilt written in first and third person narratives. Marital infidelity and the feelings of humiliation and betrayal that flow from it is a common thread running through most of these stories; in some cases prominently and others less so where the characters unhappily tolerate or ignore the affair to preserve an illusion that things are fine.
Child’s Play is one story that showcases Munro’s talent where an act from the narrator’s youth carries through to adulthood, and a profound sense of guilt that weighs on the narrator’s camp buddy places the reader in a position to pass judgment as various pieces of the event are revealed until a clearer picture emerges.
Strangely, the weakest story is Too Much Happiness, the book’s title. Inspired by a female mathematician from the late 1800’s, the story skillfully captures obstacles a woman faces trying to succeed in a traditionally male-dominated environment in matters of love and career; however, the usage of multiple flashbacks blended with a scene imagined by the main character is confusing and serves as a distraction.
Nonetheless, Too Much Happiness is a well-written collection that is worth the read.