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Clara Callan : A Novel

Wright, Richard B.

7,826 ratings by Goodreads
ISBN 10: 0002005018 / ISBN 13: 9780002005012
Published by BPR Publishers, New Providence, NJ, U.S.A., 2001
Condition: Fine Hardcover
From Kennedy Books (Jamestown, ND, U.S.A.)

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About this Item

Harper Flamingo Canada. A fine unread copy protected by Brodart Archival Cover. First edition, later printing. Size: 8vo - over 7¾" - 9¾" tall. Bookseller Inventory # 000272

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Bibliographic Details

Title: Clara Callan : A Novel

Publisher: BPR Publishers, New Providence, NJ, U.S.A.

Publication Date: 2001

Binding: Hard Cover

Book Condition:Fine

Dust Jacket Condition: Fine

Signed: Signed by Author

Edition: First Edition.

About this title

Synopsis:

Two sisters, small-town Ontario, 1934. Canadian author Richard Wright tells their story, from the ordinary to the extraordinary, with an eye for the commonplace and poignant sense of the larger undercurrents that change people's lives.

Letters and journal entries form a portal into the desires and passions of two very different women, underscoring the larger tableau of an era stirring with great events--the Depression, rumblings of another world war, and the infancy of radio and show business entertainment. Love and betrayal, friendship and family, hope and deception are the forces that temper the lives of Clara, the spinster schoolteacher, and her sister Nora, "whose enter life is a performance."

Wright, a master of revealing the drama of seemingly unremarkable lives, constructs a powerful, mesmerizing narrative. Clara Callan is a deeply moving portrait of two women and of an age heralding seismic changes that will alter the fabric of their inner lives and the world as they once knew it.

Review:

A finely detailed depiction of the Depression era, Richard B. Wright's Clara Callan is told entirely in the letters and journal entries of two adult sisters, Clara and Nora Callan, and their older lesbian friend, Evelyn. The novel, Wright's ninth, made a surprising sweep of Canada's major awards for best novel--the Giller Prize and the Governor General's Award--in 2001. Wright has the gift of making the reader care deeply about these characters and their worlds, which include small town Ontario, where Clara is a sensitive schoolteacher, and New York City, where the younger Nora has moved to become a radio soap opera star. Since both sisters are still "on the shelf," their roller-coaster love lives--Nora's in worldly Manhattan and Clara's in the more restrictive atmosphere of small-town spinsterhood--are a primary subject of their letters and Clara's journal.

This is a quiet book, studied and well researched, but thoroughly engaging and readable. Numerous references to period music, political events, and the looming war quite successfully place the reader at both the centre and the periphery of life in the 1930s. Side trips to Italy and to view the Dionne quintuplets feel entirely authentic. With deceptive simplicity, the author creates a world of clear images: "Nora came in from her shuffleboard game with a sweater tied across her shoulders, her hair damp from the rain." Most importantly, Wright has realized characters that come alive on the page--quite a feat considering the self-imposed limitations of this novel's form. --Mark Frutkin, Amazon.ca

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