The Understanding by Jane Barker WrightThe Understanding by Jane Barker Wright

The Understanding

byJane Barker Wright

Paperback | September 15, 2002

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You're invited to a party at the Whitechapels' place. You know them, of course. Isobel won't stop having babies. Solly, a cabinetmaker of international repute, won't stop sleeping around. Because they're also attractive, talented, charmingly eccentric and known for their selfless good works, the world thinks well of them.

While Isobel keeps track of their nine children, Solly makes exquisite furniture and operates a job-training program for street kids. The Whitechapels enjoy a mellow, benevolent kind of fame. Then their daughter, Magnolia, becomes pop music's latest angry darling and a harsh light is cast on lives which for years have been played out in flattering amber.

In the autopsy by media that follows, it's revealed that Isobel kidnapped Magnolia as an infant. Something ugly happened at a Gulf Island commune during the Seventies; now Isobel is about to pay a price. Fame and notoriety co-exist.

One does not attend parties at the Whitechapels', anymore.

Jane Barker Wright was born in 1953 and educated in Ontario. While at Queen's University, she fell in love with a metallurgical engineer and so has lived in Trail, B.C., Sydney, Australia, Tumbler Ridge, B.C. and Greymouth, New Zealand. She now lives in Vancouver with her husband. They have a moderate number of children. Her first ...
Title:The UnderstandingFormat:PaperbackPublished:September 15, 2002Publisher:Porcupine's QuillLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0889842426

ISBN - 13:9780889842427

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Customer Reviews of The Understanding

Reviews

From the Author

In an interview with Alan Twigg of BC Bookworld, Jane Barker Wright says that she's always wanted to write about an abiding, long-term relationship. It's a state that's commonplace in life, especially middle-life, but virtually absent in modern literature. She's more interested in the compromises, surrenders and shared experiences that keep people together than she is in the indifference and acrimony that pull them apart.At the same time, she became obsessed with a woman who could not stop having babies. The recognition of the end of the child-bearing phase is a poignant moment in many women's lives; even childless women reach a point when they realize that the baby option is no longer viable. Aging is about the gradual narrowing of possibility. With that poignancy in mind, Wright began to imagine Isobel Whitechapel.Wright then became fascinated by the logistics of raising a large family in Vancouver in the Nineties. How much milk, bread, peanut butter and toilet paper does the family need? Whose soccer game do you attend? Whose baseball game do you miss? How do you ever manage to pay for their shoes?By the time she'd finished the last draft, Wright was saddled with a family dealing with a huge, almost overwhelming, crisis. But meals still have to be cooked, concerts have to be attended, illnesses still have to be treated. Children expect a certain predictable regimen.`I've always thought that parenthood is one of the big subjects,' says Wright, `as big as war or love. If someone writes a novel about war, it's automatically endowed with a kind of gravitas because of the resonance of the theme. If a woman writes a book about motherhood, it's gently condemned as ``domestic'', as if the producing and nurturing of life is less monumental than the destruction of it. But the issues are the same: risk, power and lack of it, despair and hope.' Wright ends by saying, ``an ordinary life can be as gripping as an extraordinary one''.

Editorial Reviews

"The Understanding" is a fast-paced and lively novel, filled with well-drawn and fascinating characters. Wright is adept at creating suspense as she slowly reveals the secrets hidden under the serene surface of her protagonists' lives.'