The Cooke Agency

Richard B. Wright
Clara Callan

Clara Callan by Richard B. WrightUnderneath the seemingly ordinary lives of Wright’s characters are entire worlds of emotion that, once entered, become wildy unpredictable. Clara Callan has that capacity to surprise, to draw the reader below the smooth surface of convention into a world of passion, where secrets percolate and sudden, unexpected violence erupts.

Clara Callan is set in the middle of the Great Depression, chronicling the lives of two sisters. Clara is a spinsterish school teacher whose quiet life in a small Ontario town masks a passion for love and adventure. Nora, her flighty and very pretty sister, travels to New York where she lands a starring role in a radio soap opera.

Written in diary and letter form, the novel brilliantly reveals the sisters’ stories, as their lives become increasingly complex. Not since Brian Moore wrote I Am Mary Dunne has a male writer captured so well the inner life of female characters. And with Wright’s extraordinary eye for small but telling details, the world of the thirties comes vividly to life, an era when show business was in its infancy, and the Dionnes grabbed the headlines, when Automats were a futuristic way of buying fast food and the Women’s Auxiliary still ruled the social roost in small towns everywhere. Above all, Wright’s portrait draws a world of young women—pre-divorce, pre-Pill, pre-liberation, where judgment weighed heavily upon anyone who defied convention.

Clara Callan is so elegantly and seamlessly constructed that the reader enters it effortlessly and does not depart willingly. Readers and reviewers will agree: Clara Callan shows a writer at the top of his form.


Praise for Richard B. Wright’s Clara Callan:

The #1 National Bestseller
Over 200,000 copies sold in Canada!
Winner of The Giller Prize
Winner of the Governor General’s Award
Winner of the Trillium Book Award
Winner of the CBA Libris Award, Author of the Year
Winner of the CBA Libris Award, Fiction Book of the Year

A Top 40 Essential Canadian Novel of the Decade, CBC Canada Reads

“A profound, graceful, multi-layered story . . . that explodes into drama and passion. A beautiful and subtle book.” —The Guardian (UK)

“Mr. Wright writes with the apparent ease of breathing, and he is both touching and very, very funny.” —The New York Times

Clara Callan is as compelling as any Margaret Atwood or as incisive as a Robertson Davies . . . [An] invigoratingly original work.”
—Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

“[Wright] so successfully captures the female voice, that the long correspondences and journal entries read like an addictive crime novel.” —Times Literary Supplement, UK

“Superb…Traces with understated compassion…the separate histories of two sisters…A wrenching chronicle of time passing and opportunity lost.”
Kirkus Reviews

“A master storyteller…The voices of these three women are so true, the portrait of the village so telling, the layering of time and place and character so assured that even when we want to, we cannot look away from the fundamental truth Wright reveals.” —Ottawa Citizen

“A terrific novel.” —Montreal Gazette

“[Wright] has certainly successfully entered the mind of Clara Callan. By the end of the book, she seems beyond mere authorial creation—she seems a living, breathing human being.”—The Globe and Mail

“A deft and lovely mix of literature and melodrama…The content is often profound and the characters so fully formed they haunt and chatter even when-if-the book can be put down.” —Quill & Quire

“Wright has accomplished an amazing feat by allowing his characters to emerge, fully formed and true, without authorial intrusion into their intimate psychological world, revitalizing the epistolary form in the process.”
Publishers Weekly

Length: 412 pp
Setting: New York City, USA; Ontario, Canada; Europe
Period: 1930s; historical

Canadian rights, HarperCollins Canada
US rights, HarperCollins
Film option, Ballinran Productions

For all other rights contact The Cooke Agency.

Richard B. Wright   RICHARD B. WRIGHT is the author of twelve novels and a book for children. His fiction has been published in Canada, the U.S. and Europe and has won various awards including the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize, the City of Toronto Book Award, the Giller Prize and the Governor General’s Award for Fiction.