Wright, Richard B. Clara Callan

ISBN 13: 9780007144877

Clara Callan

3.85 avg rating
( 7,068 ratings by GoodReads )
 
9780007144877: Clara Callan

A double prize-winning novel of great style and charm.

Underneath the seemingly ordinary lives of Wright’s characters are entire worlds of emotion that, once entered, become wildly unpredictable. ‘Clara Callan’ has that capacity to surprise, to draw the reader below the smooth surface of convention into a world of passion, where secrets percolate and sudden, unexpected violence erupts.

‘Clara Callan’ is set in the middle of the Great Depression, chronicling the lives of two sisters. Clara is a spinsterish school teacher whose quiet life in a small Ontario town masks a passion for love and adventure. Nora, her flighty and very pretty sister, travels to New York where she lands a starring role in a radio soap opera.

Written in diary and letter form, the novel brilliantly reveals the sisters’ stories, as their lives become increasingly complex. Rarely has a male writer captured so well the inner life of female characters. And with Wright’s extraordinary eye for small but telling details, the world of the thirties comes vividly to life, an era when show business was in its infancy, and the Dionnes grabbed the headlines, when Automats were a futuristic way of buying fast food and the Women’s Auxiliary still ruled the social roost in small towns everywhere. Above all, Wright’s portrait draws a world of young women – pre-divorce, pre-pill, pre-liberation, where judgment weighed heavily upon anyone who defied convention.

‘Clara Callan’ is so elegantly and seamlessly constructed that the reader enters it effortlessly and does not depart willingly. Readers and reviewers will agree: ‘Clara Callan’ shows a writer at the top of his form.

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Review:

‘A page-turning drama. Clara’s story is a profound, graceful, multi-layered slow build of domestic humdrummery that explodes into drama and passion. A sense of the turbulence beneath the surface calm of small lives in small towns underpins this beautiful and subtle book.’ Guardian

‘This is a most gorgeously involving novel, moving between dark and light, the head and the heart, and with an ending that pops with surprises.’ Sunday Times

'So successfully captures the female voice, that the correspondences and journal entries read like an addictive crime novel. This is a singularly poignant story about the depravity of human beings as well as their compassion and their amazing capacity to endure.’ Ashley Brown, TLS

‘The content is often profound and the characters so fully formed they haunt and chatter even when – if – the book can be put down…Wright is an author to learn from, to trust, and to recommend to any generation.’ Quill & Quire

From the Back Cover:

A brilliant depiction of a world caught on the brink of change, 'Clara Callan' is a subtle but shocking examination of loneliness, loss of faith and courage against the odds.

It is the late 1930's in Canada, era of the Great Depression. Clara Callan leads a quiet, unremarkable life as a respectable, small-town schoolteacher. Her sister Nora, flightier, prettier, has escaped into the glamour and excitement of New York where she has landed a star role in a radio soap opera.

But Clara's sensible façade belies her passion for love and adventure, and events prove much less predictable than she could ever have imagined. Her dark and fraught journey from innocence to experience, negotiating the pre-Pill, pre-liberation difficulties that then faced all young women, tests her strength and resolve to the limit – and comes to prove that the two sisters have more in common than they thought possible.

Winner of the Giller Prize and the Governor-General's Award for Fiction – Canada's two pre-eminent literary prizes – 'Clara Callan' is a novel of extraordinary power and profundity.

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Wright, Richard B.
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