Harper Perennial, Paperback, 9780060506070, 415pp.
Publication Date: December 2, 2003
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.
“CLARA CALLAN is one of those rare novels that one might justifiably call a masterpiece.”
--- Jay Parini, author of THE APPRENTICE LOVER
“Superb... Traces with understated compassion ... the separate histories of two sisters.”
-Kirkus Reviews (Starred)
“A singularly poignant story about the depravity of human beings [and] their compassion and amazing capacity to endure.”
-Times Literary Supplement (London)
“A compelling story of perseverance and quiet triumph.”
“An amazing feat [that] remind some readers of the American poet Elizabeth Bishop.”
“A classic page-turner.”
-Quill & Quire
“A master story-teller.”
-The Ottawa Citizen (Canada)
“A compelling narrative and characters that brim with humanity.”
-Winnipeg Free Press
“A near-perfect miniature: precisely written, true in voice and setting.”
-Toronto Star (on THE AGE OF LONGING)
“Mr. Wright writes with the apparent ease of breathing, and he is both touching and very very funny.”
-New York Times (on THE AGE OF LONGING)
“As compelling as any Margaret Atwood or as incisive as a Robertson Davies.... [An] invigoratingly original work.”
-Milwaukee Journal Sentinel