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A Week in October

3.52  ·  Rating Details  ·  120 Ratings  ·  37 Reviews
“I have never been a disciplined person and I’ve spent years not knowing what I want and not living the way I want. Perhaps now that the date and time of my death had been revealed to me, I was ready to write. But how would I begin?”

Clara Griffin, the beautiful wife of a successful Chilean architect, courageously confronts a life-threatening illness while recording her tho
Hardcover, 224 pages
Published August 5th 2008 by Other Press
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Jun 18, 2008 Jackie rated it liked it
Chilean born Subercaseaux has crafted what feels like a delightfully old fashioned novel set in modern times. The formality and reserve of it makes a stark comparison to much of today's writing--and a wonderful change of pace. Clara Griffin is married to a successful but distant man--their marriage has grown stale at the very least. Then she discovers that she has cancer, and she feels the need to say things too long unsaid in the gentlest way possible--she writes a "novel" in a notebook, kept i ...more
Jun 21, 2015 Bob rated it really liked it
Very well written/translated...a curious "character study" in that both narrators are suspect.
if you don't read Spanish, here is the author's brief bio:

Journalist and writer. She has been employed like correspondent, interviewer, columnist and columnist in a variety of publications. She was a teacher at the School of Pedriodismo at the University of Chile. She has been a correspondent of the BBC of London and the magazines Week (Colombia) and Crisis (Argentina). She is an authoress of journalist
Feb 23, 2009 Jenn rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Oct 12, 2011 Rodrigo rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Enfermedad terminal, matrimonio rutinario, romance extramarital, venganza póstuma. Estos son los ingredientes que la periodista Elizabeth Subercaseaux (1945) utiliza en Una Semana de Octubre (2010), un relato sobre la última etapa de la vida de una enferma de cáncer.

A la protagonista, Clara Griffin, le es diagnosticado un cáncer de mamas. Con la certidumbre de una muerte próxima y animada por su esposo Clemente, comienza a escribir en un cuaderno lo que parece ser un diario de vida. Clemente enc
Mar 07, 2009 Maggie rated it liked it
I picked this up while browsing the new book shelves at the larger public library in town, mainly because the author is advertised as the great-great-great-granddaughter of Robert Schumann.

Claire is dying of cancer and her husband, an architect comes across a journal/novel she's been writing in her final days. Subercaseaux jumps between this notebook and the husband's reaction to reading the notebook and discovering a part of his wife he never knew (or which had been buried under the cares and
Fathima Cader
Aug 25, 2010 Fathima Cader rated it liked it
Though it's not explicitly billed as such, this novel is as much a mystery as anything else. It isn't as quite as purple or cloying as the official GR blurb suggests. The writing is too precise and collected for it be anything except occasionally and self-consciously overly-rhetorical. The plot moves with discipline and smoothly quickening pace through the narrative's structure of alternating first-person narratives from Clara with third-person descriptions of Clemente. The technique worked well ...more
Nov 11, 2008 pb rated it really liked it
A very unique story about a woman dying of cancer who decides to keep a journal. The opening chapter is strange. But then in the second chapter we find out from the husband’s viewpoint, that we had just read the opening pages of his wife’s journal, or is it her novel? This is how the book goes, back and forth between the two, and like the husband, we don’t know if what she’s writing in the journal is true or not. She writes candidly about her husband and about past events, but then she starts wr ...more
May 17, 2015 Cassi rated it really liked it
Overall I really enjoyed this book. The back and forth between husband and wife was well written to reflect the various perspectives of this "week in October". It felt a little dry at times but the ending is totally worth it.
Mustafa Basree
Aug 06, 2011 Mustafa Basree rated it really liked it
Two books in one! Her way of writing it is interestingly beautiful.. So intense that you just want to turn on pages to know what will happen! Suberacaseaux is telling a story of a husband that is reading his wife's journal. As he reads, he finds new things that he didn't know before about his wife. His wife, Clara, a dying woman of cancer, is submerged with the sense of hopelessness that her writings didn't make sense to her husband, Clemante. She was depressed, frustrated, and yet, a person who ...more
Aug 15, 2008 Ferris rated it it was amazing
What an intense read! This is a haunting book about a woman dying from breast cancer. The lines between reality and fantasy become blurred and have enormous impact on her spouse and what emotions and beliefs and confusions he is left with when she is gone.

As a breast cancer survivor, I have to say that her descriptions of the insidious invasion of cancer into one's life is perfectly described by this talented author. It was a powerfully emotional read. The structure, the use of language, and the
Jun 21, 2012 Joe rated it it was amazing
A postmodern gem about a woman who finds she has breast cancer and starts writing a "novel" about her family life, an affair she may or may not have had, other details about her life. She leaves this secret diary (?) in a drawer where her errant husband is sure to find it. Subercaseaux plays with conventional notions of truth and falsehood by making the reader wonder whether the character is writing a true story or making it all up or both. The book reads so intensely it feels short, and you don ...more
Jul 20, 2008 Kirsten rated it it was ok
A man finds a notebook in which his wife has been writing - but he's not sure if it's a diary or a novel, as it seems to have elements of both. One chapter would be the wife's words, and the next would tell about the husband reading it and about his reactions. A somewhat uneven book, though it has its interesting moments. I don't really like magical realism very much, and so those parts did not sit well with me. But it's a fascinating premise - and the central mystery (is it real, or is it ficti ...more
Feb 13, 2013 Pascale rated it it was ok
An interesting premise: a husband, once unfaithful but repentant now that his wife is dying of cancer, reads her diary in secret, and discovers in it things he finds hard to believe. The reader is cleverly invited to try and double guess before the character whether the diary is mostly fiction, calculated to cause grief and anger in the wayward husband. Too bad the last chapter needlessly dissipates the mystery. It's not clear to me why the author chose to remove most of the ambiguity she'd so s ...more
Nov 14, 2008 Floral rated it liked it
I liked this book, it was soft and had quite a few phrases I could relate to my own life. Perhaps in the future help me avoid making some mistakes that would affect the rest of my life. Who wants to grow old without true love and passion for life... not me!! This book isn't a big page turner or top shelf type book but it is worth reading and I think you can take away some things that would help you in real life. It also had a interesting twist at the end but then again the writer did hint to it.
Ben Campbell
Sep 04, 2010 Ben Campbell rated it it was amazing
What an excellent literary story. Exacting words to describe her breast cancer condition and relationships, Subercaseaux revealed superb delineation of how living one's life in submission of parents, aunts and husband whereby she hadn't lived at all...until one last affair with love...that perhaps didn't happen at all. A lifetime lived while dying a short death all while writing a concise novel in a notebook. And her husband was left in an emotional vacuum. I loved it.
Nov 07, 2008 Trish rated it liked it
A small little book with a fun cover (definitely broke my rule about "intelligent" looking covers), very easy to read. A husband and wife separately narrate the novel, and I found myself empathizing not with the heroine, but instead the "foolish" husband. Still haven't decided if that's what the Author had intended, but nonetheless.

Don't recommend buying it (not substantial enough to justify the cost) but a simple little read on a Sunday wouldn't be the worst.
Nov 02, 2012 prescribed rated it liked it
Shelves: chilean-books
This book started out really interesting and then went a little sour- or not sour so much as just bleh. I don't like tricks, and the ending of this book feels too much like a trick to me. Interesting structure though- and I did get through it quite quickly. The plot and characters are gripping-I just felt a little ripped off at the end. I am going to try another Subercaseaux novel though, this time in spanish.
Apr 04, 2008 Jess rated it it was ok
A neat idea --- a woman with cancer writes a semi-autobiographical novel, and her husband reads it --- coupled with an interseting structure --- chapters of the first-person novel alternate with third-person chapters about the husband --- somehow become insipid and uninspired here. Maybe something (or many things) got lost in translation.
Dec 23, 2008 Leah rated it really liked it
At first I was unsure of the book because I didn't think it was well-written. I'm glad I stuck with it (possibly the translation was bad?). Although I don't enjoy reading a glamorization of adultery, I thought that the premise (and the execution of that premise) was interesting and thought-provoking.
Jan 22, 2009 Christianne rated it it was ok
I think some things got lost in translation in this one. It was sort of weird, then I got into it, and then at the end, the author left me wondering what really happened. What was truth and what was a lie? I am the type of girl who needs an author to tell ME how it ended. It's her story, not mine.
Elizabeth Subercaseaux
Aug 20, 2009 Elizabeth Subercaseaux rated it it was amazing
This is the most beautiful and intriguing story I have ever read. Where does reality start? Was it true that Clara had that lover when she was almost at the end of her life?
The writing is perfect, the story runs. I started to read this wonderful novel and could not give it up until I finished.
Nov 18, 2008 Rachel rated it liked it
It reads like a quiet indie film.

From the flap: This tale of erotic tension, deception, and resilience walks the line of suspense from page one to the unexpected, haunting ending that ponders the mysteries of a woman's heart, where truth is a lie and a lie is the truth.
Darshan Elena
Nov 10, 2009 Darshan Elena rated it really liked it
What a brilliant novel! I just loved how the author layered the characters, situation, and motivations. This was one of those novels where I didn't feel inside the head of the protagonists. Rather, I felt empathetic and philosophical about their quirks and choices.
Sep 29, 2008 Jo rated it really liked it
Although the set-up of the book(a woman with breast cancer) sounds depressing, I found it a delicious read. I enjoyed the more sparce prose. It has a great ambiguity regarding the truth of the story within the story.
Aug 01, 2009 Lorileinart rated it liked it
Liked it; didn't love it.
It was probably because I read it immediately following a book that I loved...and it failed to capture my imagination in the same way.
I never felt a connection with the characters: fatal.
Renate Simone
Mar 01, 2009 Renate Simone rated it really liked it
Wow! A powerful book. Nicely written.

A woman dying of breast cancer writes a 'journal'. Her husband reads the notebook and has difficulty with what is 'real'.

Jan 26, 2011 Emma rated it liked it
I think there is plenty in this book that many people will be able to relate to in regards to relationships, and I appreciated how these perspectives weren't sugarcoated.
Dec 30, 2008 Tara rated it it was ok
Really short book. Slow to get into, but great unpredictable ending! Not sure I would recommend, but would be able to read in an afternoon so might be worth it.
Aug 29, 2009 MsDanaE rated it really liked it
one of the first books in a long time that I can't wait to talk about! I have so many questions I want to ask other readers! thank goodness I'm in a bookclub.
Mar 08, 2009 Rich rated it it was amazing
Extraordinary book, written by a Chilean author, and translated into English. Reads very quickly. Highly recommended.
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Periodista y escritora. Ha trabajado como reportera, entrevistadora, articulista y columnista en Cosas, Apsi, Master, Caras, El Sábado, La Nación, Cuadrenos Cervantes (Madrid), Diario Al Día (Philadelphia), Ocean Drive y Vanidades Continental (Maimi). Fue profesora de la Escuela de Pedriodismo de la Universidad de Chile. Ha sido corresponsal de la BBC de Londres y las revistas Semana (Colombia) y ...more
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