In this new collection of stories -- the finest yet from one of the most brilliant writers of fiction at work today -- whole lives, whole worlds, unfold with an ease, a richness, an absolute "rightness" that are breathtaking. These are stories in which women are central. They are about lovers found and lovers lost but lodged still in the subconscious, about secrets that change lives, about people whose histories are opening out or coming to an end. Their power accumulates layer by layer as time and reality shift, identities become uncertain, truths surface. A heart patient on a trip to her doctor on a hot summer's day has a revelation about the lasting power of an old love. A long-hidden secret sticks in the consciousness of a young woman, who, in an outrageous but entirely satisfying act, finally rids herself of its thrall. A romantic tale of capture and escape in the wilds of central Europe may or may not be true, but it comforts the hearer, who, on an adventure of her own, is fleeing her husband. Two childhood friends resolve their lives in a madcap and unexpected way on a memorable midsummer's eve. A pioneer woman home-steading in the Canadian wilderness with her new husband and his brother devises a clever stratagem for eluding the certain and dire fate that awaits her if she remains on the farm. A wonderful gathering of stories in which once again, as she does with each new book, Alice Munro surpasses herself.