If Clara

If Clara

Book - 2017
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In If Clara, nobody stands on firm ground. Daisy, a writer confined to her home, her leg in a cast from hip to ankle, receives a parcel containing the manuscript of a novel about a Syrian refugee and is asked to pose as its writer. Julia, the curator at the Kleinzahler Gallery, has no idea that her sister, Clara, has written a novel. However, she does know that Clara suffers from a debilitating mental illness, is unpredictable, and lapses easily into hostility. Maurice's life is changed by an art installation involving a pair of binoculars welded to the wall through which visitors are invited to observe passersby outside. An ultralight aircraft's collision with a quiet lawn brings them all together. If Clara explores the emotional weight of friendship, the complexity of family, and people inextricably entwined.

Publisher: Toronto : Coach House Books, ©2017.
ISBN: 9781552453568
Characteristics: 157 pages ;,21 cm.


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Apr 20, 2019

Every one of Martha Baillie's books explores entirely new territory. This one obviously lies much closer to home for her, the situation and characters having been drawn from events in her own life. Because of the constantly shifting POV, it took me much longer to get into the rhythm of this book than for any of hers I read previously. And only two of the characters were really developed to my full satisfaction; the interjections of Maurice and Ralph seemed like unwelcome distractions.
But those are my only quibbles. Baillie's most remarkable achievement here is her exploration of the chaos within Clara's deeply disturbed mind; her fearful, disjointed ramblings and her truculent exchanges with the several vexatious personalities rattling around inside her head. In just a few short pages, Baillie has succeeded in conveying what it's like to struggle with mental illness.

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