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The Umbrella Mender

3.58  ·  Rating Details ·  72 Ratings  ·  15 Reviews
Much is undecided. The doctors talk over me, debating the possibility that I’ll speak again.

Though a stroke has left her mute, the story Hazel has to share is unforgettable. As a talented nurse in the early 1950s, she went to Moose Factory to help fight the epidemic of tuberculosis that was ravaging the indigenous peoples of the north. Each week the boat brought new patien
Paperback, 300 pages
Published January 1st 2015 by Wolsak and Wynn (first published August 19th 2014)
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Community Reviews

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Apr 12, 2015 Heather rated it it was ok
I love historical fiction about nurses, in part because I find the history of medicine fascinating, and also because nursing was one of the few opportunities women had, historically, to lead a life that was both adventurous and respectable (not that I don't like reading about disrespectable women too!). Having loved books like Julia Gregson's Band of Angels, or Mary-Rose MacColl's In Falling Snow, I was looking forward to The Umbrella Mender, the story of a nurse working in a TB sanatorium for ...more
Nov 09, 2014 Kathryn rated it it was amazing
I've known CFG for a very long time and have read an early manuscript of this. It's wonderful to me how The Umbrella Mender has become first a solid draft and then a beautiful book over the last few years. The story is ostensibly about a young nurse who works in a TB hospital in Moose Factory, but in its heart and heartbeat it is about how we create -- in the margins of society, in the space of deepest misunderstanding, without the support of civilization. It is about doctors and nurses trying ...more
Nora Campbell
Oct 22, 2014 Nora Campbell rated it it was amazing
The Umbrella Mender by Christine Fischer-Guy is a stunning novel that is both uniquely Canadian, yet universal in its themes. The author's use of language is dramatically poetic without being banal. Based on real events, it depicts a poignant slice of Canadian history - the devastating effect of tuberculosis on our First Nations people and the desperate struggle of the few who tried to save them in the 1950s. The story centers around a young nurse's experiences, in particular her fascination ...more
Eva Stachniak
Feb 11, 2015 Eva Stachniak rated it it was amazing
It is always a pleasure to read a book of which I have heard so much for a long time. CFG is a writer/friend and I've heard her describe the process of writing this novel, the difficulties, the joys, the usual writerly frustrations.

The result is a moving, beautifully crafted tale of love, loss, and dreams, some realized and some never fulfilled. Hazel, the nurse who went north to Moose Factory to help fight the epidemic of tuberculosis among the Cree and Inuit peoples is a strong, complex charac
Marlene Gregg
Feb 05, 2015 Marlene Gregg rated it it was amazing
I could not imagine being closer to Moose Factory during the 1950's than while reading through the pages of The Umbrella Mender. Christine wove the island's history, geography, and cultural heritages together in a way that I could feel the emotional pain of each person in her story. A most compelling read. I look forward to her next novel.
Claire Cameron
Nov 11, 2014 Claire Cameron rated it it was amazing
Christine is a friend and, as I already knew, a beautiful writer. I loved how this story sent me into the frontier nursing culture of Moose Factory. The main character, Hazel, has this perfect balance of restraint, discipline and a wildness that I remember from the stories my grandmother used to tell about nursing.
Anne Martin
Dec 09, 2014 Anne Martin rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Laura Rock
Nov 12, 2014 Laura Rock rated it it was amazing
This book offers so much--a gripping story told in the past and present following Hazel, a smart, independent nurse; the history and conflicts of treating the indigenous population of 1950s northern Ontario during a TB epidemic; the social constraints of medical protocol (not to mention men and women, and friendship generally) at that time; and the impact of an odd drifter who mends umbrellas. Loved.
Nov 24, 2014 Cheri rated it did not like it
I did not even finish reading this book. I tried so hard but only felt more lost. The character development was poor and there was no flow to the story. Disappointing
Joanna Mills
Nov 23, 2015 Joanna Mills rated it it was amazing
This book is gorgeous and magical. It reads almost like poetry, and brings Canada's north country to life. It's also historically and medically amazingly well-researched.
Penny (Literary Hoarders)
A fine example of Canlit. I'm sitting on this one for a bit before I give a rating. Compelling and yet strange, especially toward the end.
Aug 23, 2015 Kaileigh rated it liked it
Shelves: 2015-reads
I really enjoyed all the medical tidbits and details about the fight with TB in the north. I did find the actual parts with the "umbrella mender" a bit confusing and slow sometimes though.
Blanca Bolea
Blanca Bolea rated it it was ok
Apr 21, 2016
Gladys Bender
Gladys Bender rated it liked it
May 13, 2015
Jane Mulkewich
Jane Mulkewich rated it really liked it
Jan 10, 2015
Martha Guy
Martha Guy rated it really liked it
Feb 15, 2015
Jake Vandermey
Jake Vandermey rated it really liked it
Aug 08, 2015
Karen Mckinnon
Apr 11, 2015 Karen Mckinnon rated it really liked it
Stunning prose. Edging towards a 5 but need to sit with it for a while.
J.H.  Gordon
J.H. Gordon rated it liked it
Nov 26, 2015
Lana Pesch
Lana Pesch rated it really liked it
Oct 26, 2016
Julie rated it it was amazing
Sep 20, 2015
Dorianne Emmerton
Dorianne Emmerton rated it liked it
Dec 08, 2015
Susan rated it liked it
May 26, 2015
Jennifer Philipp
Jennifer Philipp rated it liked it
Mar 13, 2015
Sarah Crocker
Sarah Crocker rated it it was ok
Mar 27, 2015
Joan Macdonald
Joan Macdonald rated it really liked it
Aug 19, 2015
David W.
David W. rated it liked it
Apr 29, 2015
Dj rated it really liked it
Dec 31, 2015
Dorothy McEachern
Dorothy McEachern rated it liked it
Jan 11, 2015
Sep 11, 2014 Tan rated it really liked it
interesting time and place!
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Christine Fischer Guy’s fiction has appeared in journals across Canada and has been nominated for the Journey Prize. She reviews for the Globe and Mail, contributes to and and teaches creative writing at the School for Continuing Studies at the University of Toronto. She is also an award-winning journalist. She has lived and worked in London, England, and now lives in ...more
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