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Una semana de octubre

3.54  ·  Rating details ·  127 Ratings  ·  38 Reviews
Clara Griffin, the beautiful wife of a successful architect, courageously confronts a life-threatening illness while recording her thoughts and experiences in her journal in the guise of a novel. What develops is a thinly veiled version of Clara’s own life, her disappointment with her cold marriage, her reminiscences of childhood, and the death that seems to surround her. ...more
Paperback, 196 pages
Published June 28th 2001 by Grijalbo (first published 1999)
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(showing 1-30)
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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
Jul 24, 2011 rated it it was ok
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
Feb 22, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 07, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Jul 15, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 06, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Mustafa Basree
Aug 06, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 17, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
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.
Ben Campbell
Sep 01, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Dec 23, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
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.
Apr 04, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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.
May 11, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Elizabeth Subercaseaux
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.
Darshan Elena
Nov 10, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Nov 18, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Sep 29, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
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.
Mar 31, 2010 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
from an old list I had in my purse
May 10, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The writing was good but the characters lacked any substance for me, making it difficult to care about them. This served as an interim book while I was awaiting a reserved library book.
Mar 27, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Excellent translation -- beautifully written and deeply moving.
Jules Vilmur
lovely - just lovely
Jan 16, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
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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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