I just finished listening to this collection of stories on CD. I had read and taught the first chapter (from a volume of Best American Short Stories) which imagines a group of Scottish immigrants on their way from the Ettrick Valley to Canada in the 18th century. These are the ancestors of Munro, and after lingering on several scenes of her own life, she circles back around to these courageous travelers. We find out when and where they died, nearly always too soon.
Munro is so skilled at letting you watch the human psyche tick-tick, whether it's a person wholly imagined by her, or entirely known. Her description of the landscape of rural Ontario is gorgeous. She journeys to Joliet, Illinois, to find the grave of an ancestor, and I'm startled to hear her sketch a place I know.
This collection of stories holds together a thread of a way of thinking; that is, the sometimes brutish, practical, hard working Laidlaws shape their descendents' mindsets. Munro's is a tender rendering.