In the late 30s, sisters Clara and Nora face the future with hope and uncertainty. Told through their diaries and letters, this novel vividly brings them to life in a world struggling through the Depression and the growing threat of fascism in Europe. The author is the winner of Canadian Giller Prize for Fiction.
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'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
‘Anyone who doubts whether a male novelist can convincingly and persuasively inhabit the psyches of female characters should read Clara Callan.’ The Record
‘imaginary figures with such rich inner lives that after a few pages they move into your psyche like emotional squatters and refuse to leave.’
Sandra Martin, The Globe and Mail
‘The voices of these three women are so true, the portrait of the village so telling, the layering of time and place and character so assured that even when we want to, we cannot turn away from the fundamental truth he reveals.’
‘This is a novel I consciously slowed down to read, so I could savour every word.’
‘Clara Callan…set me tingling with the power of great writing. I can only say: I wish I’d written this book.’
‘there is more to Miss Callan than meets the eye…By the end of the book, she seems beyond mere authorial creation – she seems a living, breathing human being.’
Paul Quarrington, The Globe and Mail
‘Clara Callan is a terrific novel and possibly even a great one.’
'An understated, graceful writer who never makes a false step, Richard B. Wright is a master at revealing the small dramas that unfold in what might appear to others as an unremarkable life. In Clara Callan he has achieved an accomplished and utterly convincing novel.'
Jury for the 2001 Giller Prize
'Clara Callan brilliantly transfers ordinary lives onto a wider canvas to portray the grandeur of an era. In a style that is understated yet compelling, Wright blends the forms of the letter and the journal to construct a powerful narrative.'
Judges of the Governor-General's Literary Award
Wright creates a compelling narrative and characters who brim with humanity. The biggest compliment might be that you forget that his women have been imagined by a man.'
Morley Walker, Winnipeg Free Press
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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