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Clara Callan Mass Market Paperback – Jul 8 2004


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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback
  • Publisher: Harper Collins Canada; 1st Printing edition (July 8 2004)
  • ISBN-10: 000639406X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0006394068
  • Product Dimensions: 16.8 x 10.2 x 3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 363 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,009,567 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Blflowerbug on July 12 2002
Format: Hardcover
I was extremely intrigued by the title when I first noticed this book on the shelves of my favorite bookstore. I immediately wanted to know who was Clara Callan. I was not disappointed in Richard B. Wright's latest novel. Written in diary and letter form this is the romantic and sometimes tragic story of two Canadian sisters, one, an ordinary school teacher, the other, an aspiring actress. The writer leads us into their thoughts and through their actions and the repercussions they face as he develops his characters through the 1930's, retelling a bit of our history. Highly recommended. You won't be disappointed. I look forward to his next book.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Friederike Knabe TOP 50 REVIEWER on Nov. 29 2002
Format: Paperback
Clara Callan, the protagonist of Wright's novel, is a small town spinster in the 1930s. She lives a reasonably comfortable life thanks to the inheritance of her father's house and a job as a local schoolteacher. Through her diary entries and exchanges of letters, mainly with her more glamorous younger sister Nora, Clara reveals herself to the reader. Wright has created a believable character that "grows on you" as her personality emerges little by little. Life's difficulties during the Depression years, in particular for a single woman in rural Southern Ontario become apparent through the description of daily events. However, a very dramatic personal incident and its aftermath force Clara to confront her new circumstances in a very direct manner. While she was accustomed to express her daily experiences and reflections in poems, events interfere and poetry becomes impossible. She recognizes "how suddenly a life can become misshapen, divided brutally into before and after a dire event." Her beliefs are challenged and so is her self-contained whole-ness as a person.
Clara's personal story is embedded in the realities of the mid-thirties where unemployment is rife and poverty spreading. Although at the periphery of the main thrust of the book, Wright alludes to the emerging pre-war anxieties. He touches on the contrasts between city and rural living, utilizing Clara's reluctance to accept such innovations as the telephone, as an example. Yet, the regular Saturday trips to Toronto, perceived by her as a necessary escape from the village, lead to a new, important phase in her personal development, giving her also a new taste of independence. She visits her sister in New York, although in rather difficult time in her life.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By William E Harris on Nov. 1 2002
Format: Paperback
Just a wonderful book. I had to check to make sure it was really fiction. The writing was so well done and interesting I could have sworn I was in small town Ontario in the 30's. I'll be eagerly anticipating his next book and will be checking out some of his earlier work.
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By Adrenne on July 2 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The main character is so hum drum, and ends up to be a hoot!
It shows how the folk in that era lived, worked and played.
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By Joan Lemire on Feb. 20 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This was a very easy read and I enjoyed it as a change. I would recommend it to some of my friends who only read at night and don't like anything upsetting or violent. Nice story of everyday lives of sisters.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Usman Hamid on Sept. 24 2007
Format: Hardcover
It would be superflous to simply praise this book, after all it is one of the rare if not the only book to have won the two most prestigious CanLit awards, the Governer General's and the (Sociabank) Giller award. Clara Callan is an undulating work of literary excellence. This is a must read book.

The story is set before the second world war in a small town in Ontario, where Clara Callan, a solitary thirty something school teacher, ponders the meaning of life, love and happiness while floating in the banal everyday existence that a small town has to offer. But no life is ever ordinary and the journey Clara takes in the years leading to the second world war are filled with both happiness and sorrow but most of all discovery. No man is an island and certainly not Miss Callan whose correspondance with her sister Nora, a sprity creature who runs off New York to be a radio star, and the ever sharp witted Evelyn, alongside Clara's diary, forms the basis of the novel.

The true charm of the novel is not its plot twists and deft storytelling but the humanity with which the characters are rendered for both their beauty and warts, and the recognition that even the most seemingly mundane and ordinary life is a tale worth telling.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Barnaby Black on June 29 2008
Format: Hardcover
I began this book - a Book Club choice for me - with enthusiasm, and at first found it interesting. I wanted to find out what happened to the sisters, and was quite engaged in the book. That did not last long. Following Clara's rape I found the book went downhill at an astonishing rate. Her fascination and imaginings about her rapist were ridiculous ... almost embarrassing. Her relationship with Frank was too clichéd to be believable, and the constant reference to sexual relationships was boring and unconvincing. And while lesbianism was alive and well during that era, it was not something that the average small town gal would know much aboout ... and certainly would not have been a topic for open discussion. I found myself skimming huge sections as it was just too tedious to plough through it all.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on Feb. 16 2004
Format: Paperback
A well-researched, well-written novel. Brings you right inside the time period, before the Second WW. I enjoyed the sister's relationship. It was realistic and beautiful.
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