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It is the year 1934, and in a small town in Canada, Clara Callan reluctantly takes leave of her sister, Nora, who is bound for the show business world of New York. It’s a time when people escape from reality through radio and the movies, when the Dionne Quints make headlines, when the growing threat of fascism in Europe is a constant worry, and the two sisters—vastly different in personality yet inextricably linked by a shared past—try to find their place 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. But Nora’s letters eventually begin to reveal that her life in the big city is a little less exotic than it may…[more]
Ross, “Buddy” Wheeler, father of Howard, never won the Stanley Cup. Called up from a small-town farm team, he saw his moment of fame skate by in a fleeting four-game stint with the 1930’s Montreal Maroons. Grace Wheeler, mother of Howard and tight-lipped teacher, could never abide Buddy’s carousing and the childish games he insisted on pursuing.
Howard, now firmly entrenched in middle age and the survivor of both a coronary and his parents’ failed dreams, needs to understand what has happened in order to cast a net around his own scattered fragments of longing and loss.
Set in small-town Ontario and spanning three generations, Richard B. Wright’s acclaimed novel of Howard Wheeler’s search for self-understanding is a journey through the past, both real and imagined, a brilliant gathering-together of the many threads of emotional inheritance that make up life.