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3.47 of 5 stars 3.47  ·  rating details  ·  397 ratings  ·  42 reviews
A new novel that Richard B. Wright’s Clara Callan fans will adore, October effortlessly weaves a haunting coming-of-age story set in World War II Quebec with a contemporary portrait of a man still searching for answers in the autumn of his life.

In England to see his daughter, Susan, who is gravely ill, James Hillyer, a retired professor of Victorian literature, encounters
Hardcover, 241 pages
Published September 20th 2007 by HarperCollins Canada
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Her Royal Orangeness
James Hillyer travels from Canada to England to visit his daughter, Susan, who has been diagnosed with cancer. While there he encounters Gabriel Fontaine, a man he knew for one summer when the two men were teenagers. Gabriel is dying of cancer and asks James to accompany him to Switzerland where he has arranged to be euthanized. These events cause James to recollect that summer sixty years in the past, and to ruminate on life and relationships and death.

My reaction to this book was, quite simpl
Debbie Robson
I now have a new favourite author – Richard B. Wright. I am drawn to different writers for different reasons. Some for the settings of their novels which I really like to read about – such as Anita Shreve for New England. Some for their character driven work and subject matter and some even for their tone of voice, Wright included. I love his “sensibility and world view” which is in tune with mine and was one of the main reasons I so enjoyed October. His depiction of the past was masterful and h ...more
Pollyanna Darling
I gave up on Mr Shakespeare's Bastard, but tried again with October. In it's favour, Wright has created a strong narrative voice that rings true. The interactions between the characters are well-observed and the plot is interesting enough (although I found the execution of the narrator running into an old acquaintance unbelievably stilted).

I guess Wright is not for me. The writing is emotionally bereft, dry and clinical. I don't care what happens to the old fellow or any of the other characters

"A new novel that Richard B. Wright’s Clara Callan fans will adore, October effortlessly weaves a haunting coming-of-age story set in World War II Quebec with a contemporary portrait of a man still searching for answers in the autumn of his life.

In England to see his daughter, Susan, who is gravely ill, James Hillyer, a retired professor of Victorian literature, encounters by chance a man he once knew as a boy. Gabriel Fontaine, a rich and attractive American he met one summer during the
This book wasn’t a bad book, it was a well written story, I just couldn’t connect to it, or any of the characters. The author did a fantastic job at showing how his characters dealt with there mortality and there reactions knowing they will die or someone the love will die and the emotions and reactions in how the characters dealt with it. But for me it just fell short of what I think the author was trying to get at.

First of all, although I didn’t mind looking back on the past of when two of the
Leo Robillard
I am always surprised by how much I enjoy Richard B. Wright’s work. It all seems so simple and straight-forward in the telling. October is no exception. The plot is uncomplicated; the language, unadorned. And yet the story resonates long after you put it down.

While travelling in England to visit his cancer-stricken daughter, retired professor James Hillyer chances upon an acquaintance whom he has not encountered in more than sixty years. Gabriel Fontaine, once a sixteen-year-old boy befriended
Shonna Froebel
James Hillyer is a retired professor of Victorian literature, living on his own in Toronto. His wife died of cancer some years ago, and his daughter Susan has just been diagnosed with a similar disease. Susan is headmistress of a boarding school in England, a job she has aspired to all her working life. James visits her to touch base following news of her illness, and afterwards in London he meets a man he hasn't seen in sixty years.
Back in 1944, James spent a summer in rural Quebec with his unc
Jul 20, 2008 Marlene rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Marlene by: Globe & Mail
I was not able to finish Clara Callan, and decided that Wright was not for me, but I did like October. In visual art there is a term for the art of handling the media itself (eg paint). The word is painterly. I found October to be "writerly". Doreen, I didn't relate to the characters either, but I found what I considered to be the main character, the guy in the wheelchair, utterly fascinating. Actually, I read the book in one sitting (aside from pee and coffee breaks). There wasn't much of a sto ...more
I thought this was a very good book. It is very depressing and I like depressing novels. I find Wright’s writing to be very smooth and a quick read but still very good.

I believe I have read all that he has written and have hear him read at least once. I have often (always ?) found that his novels centre on strongly developed female characters while the male characters are often flat and weak. I recognize that in some of his novels this was intentional and part of the story but it has always both
Kelly Nightingall
I enjoyed the book. It felt like I was listening to a story told by my Grandad. A sad tale in all but well written with wit and charm.
I had expected a different ending and perhaps because of this was left a little bit wanting upon finishing. All in all a good read.
I was right: this book did make me sad, for many more reasons than I had originally thought. The end left me feeling a little bereft, but I suppose that's the mark of realist fiction. It's not the "end" as much as "the place where he stopped telling his story."

The thing I like about Richard B. Wright is that he seems to really "know" his narrators. In this case, the voice is so consistent that I actually felt I knew this man...not just in the sense that he's so well realized that I felt like I "
This is the third book I have read of Richard Wright's and I have told my Book Club this will be my last. Although an easy read it was very unsatisfying to me. I find his writing to be removed from his subjects and as a consequence I cannot relate to the characters. When I read I want to feel some connection to the story and the people who inhabit it.
The themes in this book about estrangement from family, loss and death should be a no brainer and in fact it did hit a note with some of my book cl
Gabriel may not have grown out of his contentious and self glorified behaviour; but neither did James from his mopey, self pitying adolescence despite having 60+ years in the passing.
When the 2 main characters both have less then stellar personalities, it leaves the reader wanting to know more about the lesser yet clearly more interesting filler characters like Odette and Susan and even silent Adam.
With 3 teen boys in my own home I found I had to drag myself through this book. Much like the no
One of my favourite Canadian authors.
Debby K
Although I liked the story and was interested to get to the end I was surprised with the unanswered question as to what happened to Odette, to which I suspect and what has been suggested is that the author did this on purpose.
I did find the book slow paced, and it jumped around a lot from past to present, at the same time I was impressed as to how this book resonated such fascinating and long conversation in the two book clubs I lead. There were so many topics this book contained that provided f
Richard B. Wright has been one of my favorite authors since I read Clara Callan. His prose has an understated quality that subtly gives his readers a deep understanding of the characters and the plot. In this novel, James Hillyer agonizes over the diagnosis of his daughter's terminal illness when he accidentally encounters an elderly man whom he knew when they were both children. In counterpoint chapters their history is revealed as James accompanies this long-ago friend on his final journey.
Wright has reconfirmed his standing as one of Canada's most talented writers. October is thoughtful and poignant. As the book winds its way through James' past and present it makes you reconsider your own life's ages and stages. Wright examines death without morbidity, and memories without sentimentality. October is a beautiful examination of one man's life, using both hindsight and foresight to explore his deepest soul.
This book deals with friendship, the death of an adult child, cancer, and euthanasia. Wright leaves many unanswered questions about the characters in the book. I prefer books with answered questions. I will always wonder what happened to these people but perhaps the wondering is what Wright wanted to create for his readers. So I'll just imagine good things happening to my favorite character in the book, Odette.
Enjoyed it very much, though the story took me by surprise, thought it would be more about the father / daughter relationship and how he was dealing with her illness but it was more about the narrator's childhood and his relationship with a rich friend that he meets again as an adult while visiting his daughter. On the whole it was a good read, not as enjoyable as Clara Callan.
Withdrawn from Winnipeg Library


For Phyllis
anf for
Chrisopher, Vicki, Sydney, Abigail
Andrew, Wendy, Gage, and Millie

with love

Opening: I went to England to see my daughter. This was in October 2004. Susan had phoned the previous week with her dire news. A Friday noon hour and I was preparing lunch in my apartment in Toronto.
Completely sad book. The topic made me think. As always, beautifully written.
A beautiful writer. He sets up the situation - a father visiting his gravely ill daughter happens upon a man he knew as a child who himself is dying and engages the father in his plan to kill himself.
Very thought provoking while at the same time touching all the right emotional chords.
Charlotte Webb
Enjoyed this book, though Clara Callen is my favourite Wright book so far. Would do 3.5 stars if I could figure out how...

Very effective use of internal character voice. Interesting thoughts about death woven throughout the text.
Rob & Liz
Aug 25, 2008 Rob & Liz rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommended to Rob & Liz by: Book club
An elderly man goes to England visit his daughter who has just been diagnosed with breast cancer. While he is in London he meets up with a chilhood friend. The story reads like two separate entities that are loosely intertwined.

Marga Vr
Oct 15, 2007 Marga Vr rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: older generation
Shelves: generalfiction
Very appropriate title of the book. Doom & gloom, the october in the life of the main character. Stocktaking. A case history of a twisted life ending in an assisted suicide in Zurich, Switzerland. Hemlock.
About death and life. the protagonists daughter is dying of cancer. He meets an old friend, also dying; the flashbacks to their summer relationship pulls you in. ...more
Meh - it was ok but nothing special. Thankfully it was a pretty easy read otherwise I wouldn't have bothered ... in hindsight perhaps I shouldn't have bothered!
Bekah Crozier
A wonderful story of life - how it progresses, changes, the questions we ask and answers we seek, and all of the minute details we remember in years to come.
Loved it. Such a good read. He is very good at keeping the story moving along even though not much seems to happen. Almost as good as Clara Callan!
Twittreview: Wordy, but predictable, slow & thin on the plot. Cancer story without survivors.
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Richard B. Wright is a Canadian novelist.

Born in Midland, Ontario, Wright attended Trent University, from which he graduated in 1970. He is the author of 13 published novels and two children's books. Many of his older novels were out of print, but were republished after his novel Clara Callan won three of Canada's major literary awards in 2001: the Giller Prize; the Trillium Book Award; and the Go
More about Richard B. Wright...
Clara Callan Mr. Shakespeare's Bastard Adultery The Weekend Man:  A Novel The Age Of Longing: A Novel

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