Clara Callan

Clara Callan

Book - 2001
Average Rating:
Rate this:
The story of two sisters, Clara, a schoolteacher in small-town Ontario, and Nora, an actress in New York. As their lives unfold, often described in their letters to each other, they experience life in the late 1930s. Mixed together with their everyday lives are love, infidelity, deception and loss, while the capacity for sorrow bubbles just beneath the surface.
Publisher: Toronto : HarperFlamingoCanada, c2001.
ISBN: 9780002005012
Branch Call Number: FIC Wrigh
Characteristics: 414 pages ; 23 cm.


From Library Staff

samdog123 Apr 15, 2008

Probably one of the best books I've ever read. The lives of two sisters and the very different paths they take are featured in this wonderful novel. Recommended for adults and teens alike.

From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment

Jul 27, 2016

'Clara Callan' by Richard B. Wright surprised me: I quite liked it. Written as a series of diary entries by Clara and various letters to and from Clara, the novel covers four years in the late thirties. While Clara seems to aspire to a quite life in a village, her glamorous radio star sister keeps Clara on her toes. Not that Clara needs the help: she finds illicit romance on her own in the gothic confines of small town Ontario.

Mar 10, 2015

I loved this book for the insight into the expectations which small communities placed on women in the 1930's. Women could work but they had better toe the line in their private lives as well or they were viewed as outcasts. The author is amazing at telling the story through a set of letters between the characters, mainly two sisters. Wright's characterization of these women is impeccable. A very good read. This was truly one book that deserved the Giller Prize.

WVMLStaffPicks Dec 18, 2014

Clara is a calm, intelligent spinster schoolteacher in small town Ontario in the 1930’s. Beneath a conventional, perfectly adapted surface, she has a life rich in inner experience and a very corporal passion for a married man. Through letters and diary entries, Wright brilliantly reveals the lives of both Clara and her pretty younger sister who has gone off to a glamorous career in radio in New York City. Perhaps better than any male writer since Brian Moore, Wright captures the female experience at a time when young women were ruled utterly by society’s expectations. I was reluctant to leave this view into another life and the pleasure of reading the elegant work of a writer at the top of his form.

Jan 26, 2014

A terrific read. Makes you long for the days of letter writing.

WVMLBookClubTitles Jun 17, 2013

Set in the 1930s, an era when people escape reality through radio and movies, and the growing threat of fascism in Europe is a constant worry, two sisters in a small Ontario town grapple with social mores and expectations for unmarried young women. The winner of the two major Canadian fiction awards, this is a deeply moving portrait of loneliness, deception, friendship and hope.

Jul 12, 2011

Story told through letters that two sister are sending to each other. Depression era Canadian fiction that covers controversial and difficult topics such as rape, unplanned pregnancies, adultery and unwed motherhood.

Sep 20, 2010

A wonderful book about one women's courage during the 1930s, when she is set upon by two men. The result is an unwanted pregnancy, which she is able to deal with, only to find herself in a similar position later in life. How she copes with these complications in her life at a time when nontraditional relationships were not tolerated makes for powerful reading.

Sep 04, 2010

Referred by Michelle Musgrove

Jun 30, 2010

Wonderful read; non-traditional and emotionally charged.

Jan 22, 2010

I read this book several years ago and I still think about it today. An outstanding book that I highly recommend.

Age Suitability

Add Age Suitability

There are no age suitabilities for this title yet.


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.


Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number

Subject Headings


Find it at OPL

To Top