Saturday, June 30, 2012

Guest Post- Ann Weir's review of Richard B. Wright's Clara Callan

Two sisters take their lives in different directions after their father dies in the award-winning novel Clara Callan. The title character Clara, a sombre thirty-something schoolteacher, attempts to stay in the life she has always had. She remains in small town Ontario, living a solitary existence in the house she grew up in and teaching at the school where her father was principal. The younger and prettier Nora, striving for more excitement, moves to New York City to pursue a career as an actress. The story, set in the 1930’s and told entirely through letters and entries in Clara’s diary, moves poignantly and effortlessly between the lives of the two sisters.

This beautifully written novel tackles some difficult subject matter, including rape, abortion, mental illness and adultery, in a subtle manner. Wright breathes life into two unique and lifelike characters who practically walk off the page. Their letters are so well written, full of intimate thoughts and emotions that provide for a real understanding of their different personalities. Delicate contrasts are woven expertly throughout the narrative. While Nora stars in a radio soap opera, it’s actually Clara who experiences the most drama in her daily life. The female characters successfully adjust to the realities of depression life, remaining strong and dignified, while the male characters largely regress and are abusive, uncaring or weak. I was left feeling sad and uplifted at the same time. For me, the ending was perfect, elegantly summing up the sister’s lives and leaving me with the satisfaction of just finishing a great book.

1 comment:

raidergirl3 said...

Nice review. I loved this book.