Clara Callan

Paperback | December 31, 2003

byRichard Bruce Wright

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In a small town in Canada, Clara Callan reluctantly takes leave of her sister, Nora, who is bound for New York. It's a time when the growing threat of fascism in Europe is a constant worry, and people escape from reality through radio and the movies. Meanwhile, the two sisters -- vastly different in personality, yet inextricably linked by a shared past -- try to find their places within the complex web of social expectations for young women in the 1930s.

While Nora embarks on a glamorous career as a radio-soap opera star, Clara, a strong and independent-minded woman, struggles to observe the traditional boundaries of a small and tight-knit community without relinquishing her dreams of love, freedom, and adventure. However, things aren't as simple as they appear -- Nora's letters eventually reveal life in the big city is less exotic than it seems, and the tranquil solitude of Clara's life is shattered by a series of unforeseeable events. These twists of fate require all of Clara's courage and strength, and finally put the seemingly unbreakable bond between the sisters to the test.

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From the Publisher

In a small town in Canada, Clara Callan reluctantly takes leave of her sister, Nora, who is bound for New York. It's a time when the growing threat of fascism in Europe is a constant worry, and people escape from reality through radio and the movies. Meanwhile, the two sisters -- vastly different in personality, yet inextricably linked...

Canadian writer, Richard B. Wright is the author of several novels. His titles include The Age of Longing, In the Middle of Life and Clara Callan. Clara Callan won both the Governor General's Literary Award for fiction and the Giller Award in 2001. He resides in St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada.
Format:PaperbackDimensions:415 pages, 8.13 × 5.35 × 1.04 inPublished:December 31, 2003Publisher:Harper PerennialLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0060506075

ISBN - 13:9780060506070

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Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great Read What can I say – Richard Wright can seriously write. I found myself completely immersed into this book from the first chapter. Characters and settings – small town Ontario, New York City, Toronto, Italy - are vividly brought to life to the point that you can feel the cold winter days in Ontario. Told through letters and diary entries this is an engaging read which takes you into the lives of two sisters – Nora (a radio actress) and Clara (a teacher) – from the years 1934 to 1938. I enjoyed reading about the relationship between the sisters and found it amusing how their roles reversed as the story went on. I also enjoyed the historical setting and felt that the author did a good job painting a picture of the world on the brink of war without knowing it. Although, at times I just wanted to knock some sense into Clara I highly enjoyed reading this book and would recommend it to people who like historical fiction and Canadiana.
Date published: 2011-07-30
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Good! I liked this book and I liked that it the book was composed of the main character's journal entries. The book was very thought provoking and though the story was not always riveting, it was always interesting.
Date published: 2011-06-01
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Fascinating Tale of Women in the 1930's This was a wonderful read! This story is about two sisters, both of whom are single during the 1930's. One sister - Nora moves to a seemingly exciting life in New York, where she finds work reading drama for radio. Meanwhile, her sister remains in small town Ontario , working as a school teacher. The story is told by Clara and Nora writing letters to one another, as well as Clara writing in her diary. A few other characters also write letters, most notably a lesbian woman named Evelyn who works in New York with Nora. This is a wonderful novel that exposes the challenges of living as a woman in the 1930's - in particular, single women. I highly recommend this most readable and informative book.
Date published: 2010-10-08
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Phenomenal Book At its heart, this is the tale of two sisters - one is a free-spirited wonderful woman who wishes nothing more than to escape her small-town Canada roots and be someone famous. The other is her sister, Clara Callan, whose diary (and letters and correspondences) we read in this novel. Diary-format books aren't usually ones I enjoy, but Wright broke up the single voice of Clara Callan just often enough (through inserted letters and postcards and the like) that I quite found the novel fulfilling. Clara is a schoolteacher, and convinced she will live a mundane life, until she finds a passion with a married man, and her life begins to bloom of its own. A beautiful book that won the Giller, this is a period piece of the 30s that I truly enjoyed.
Date published: 2008-05-22
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Clara - a nice suprise I was enthralled by the manner in which this story is told through the use of correspondence as between sisters. The manner of story-telling kept me interested, and thankfully, the story improved as the book went on. A slow start, but worth the effort to the end. Definitely much better than the follow up book: "Adultery" by Richard Wright.
Date published: 2006-05-30
Rated 4 out of 5 by from great writer i love you richard B. every book I read about you I get amazed. you are a great writer. keep up the good job. love you fidel writer.
Date published: 2005-02-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from thanks to my friend... thanks to my Friend Giuseppina Cammisano I find a great book. thank you . I love it. It's a great book . Excellent story. I could not let the book down. Once you start read it you can not stop. It's great. Thanks to my friend.
Date published: 2004-12-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great... My name is Josie Cammisano and my husband Alberto Mancini, we both love the book. I recommended to him and he love it. Even if I'm a slow reader I read it in 12 days. Great... I recommend it this book to everyone. Love Josie Cammisano
Date published: 2004-12-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Read I loved this book, I couldn't stop reading it. Its a simple story, but has its complex components, I would recomend this book to anyone who has been dying to read a good book, but just doesn't know what to start with.
Date published: 2004-12-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Gorgeously written! One of those I couldn't put it down novels. This simply yet beautifully written story had me rivited from page one. It reminded me to cherish the differences between my sister and I and never take her or our friendship for granted. I highly recommend this book!
Date published: 2004-12-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great!!! This book was hard to put down. I read it in two days....that's how great it was!!! Clara and Nora were two exciting and realistic characters and I felt like I was truly in the mind of Clara as I read on......
Date published: 2003-05-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Fantastic Read This book really grabbed my attention! I could not put the book down. I found that the characters really came to life right before my eyes. The author really captured the thoughts and emotions of women. A wonderful book!
Date published: 2003-03-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from An Excellent Read The novel Clara Callan by Richard B. Wright tells the story of two sisters, Clara - sensible - and Nora - outgoing. It is told through letter and diary format, giving the reader insight into the lives of the two main characters. The story is set in a small Ontario town called Whitfield where Clara is a schoolteacher. In Whitfield, appearances mean everything and things aren’t always as they seem. The novel is also set in New York City where Nora leads a high and fashionable life as a radio actress. This novel not only shows the exceptional quality of Richard B. Wright's writing, but also demonstrates his ability to write about the feelings of a fictional, female character. It demonstrates his ability to use a variety of types of tone in his writing, as well as his ability to depict the lifestyle of the 1930's with its special array of themes and stereotypes. In all, this novel was an excellent read. I heartily recommend this book to all.
Date published: 2002-10-19

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Editorial Reviews

“As compelling as any Margaret Atwood or as incisive as a Robertson Davies.... [An] invigoratingly original work.”