Read October by Richard B. Wright Online

october

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, encountersA 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 war, when he was sent on a holiday to the Gaspé, is a mercurial figure, badly crippled by polio. A s an adolescent, James was both attracted to and repelled by Gabriel’s cocksure attitude and charm. He also fell hopelessly in love with Odette, a French- Canadian girl from the village, only to find himself in competition with the careless Gabriel. Now, at this random meeting over six decades later—as he struggles with the terrible possibility that he could outlive his own daughter—James is asked by Gabriel to accompany him on a final, unthinkable journey. A t last, James begins to see that all beginnings and endings are inexorably linked.A classic Richard B. Wright novel, defined by superb storytelling, subtle, spare writing and characters who travel psychological territory as familiar—and uncharted—as our own, October is an extraordinary meditation on mortality, childhood and memory....

Title : October
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780002006897
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 241 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

October Reviews

  • Debbie Robson
    2019-01-21 19:09

    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 his characterisation strong. I also found that his command of time was excellent moving between the near past and the 1940s with a very assured touch. My only complaint is that I was disappointed by the ending although there is an explanation within the text for the way he handled it. Despite this a very enjoyable read.

  • Kara Hansen
    2018-12-30 15:17

    3.5 stars. I have only read Clara Callan by Richard Wright, and I would put it as one of my favourite books of all time. So it was with some anticipation that I picked up October as my next read. I was impressed, and overall enjoyed the story very much. We follow, in first person, James Hillyer, widower and retired English professor. James has just learned that his daughter has been diagnosed with breast cancer. The same cancer that took his wife some twenty years before. He flies to England to visit her, and while there a chance encounter with a boyhood friend, Gabriel Fontaine, takes place. This encounter propels the rest of the story forward, and brings James to question his life and the life of his daughter. The story goes back and forth from present day to the summer of 1944 when James first met Gabriel. Wright is such an eloquent writer and brings such vivid detail and traits to his characters. Wright has made his mark as an exceptional Canadian author~ I look forward to reading some of his other works.

  • Julie
    2019-01-05 13:08

    A tiresome little tale about a tiresome old fool, who happened to be a tiresome child. I can't seem to get away from that word: nothing else comes to mind, so numbed am I by the experience. I felt like I was being dragged through some endless hell behind annoying and disagreeable people.Wright has an easy writing style which is seductive, initially, but which soon lulls you into a terrible stupor. I felt like the proverbial fly caught in a spider's web: here I was prone and prisoner to something which was harming me and would eventually kill me, and I couldn't get away. Hillyer, the protagonist, re-encounters his one-time nemesis, Gabriel Fontaine, and together they re-enact their miserable little pas de deux which they choreographed for themselves from their first encounter, sixty years previous. Neither cares for the other very much, but still each is pulled into the other's orbit, in a push-pull of loathing and contempt, balanced only by their own self-repugnance. I couldn't find a good word for these two old donkeys, to save my soul. Despite each having lived privileged and seemingly-full lives, each remains prisoner to his own pettiness, and shows that it really is possible for people to live 7 or 8 decades without learning one blessed thing. A pointless work which left me with only one desire: to cleanse myself of their presence in my head. It makes me wonder why such books are written. New Title: October: A Tiresome Tale of Two DonkeysTwo stars only because Wright is such a good writer, stylistically.

  • Bettie☯
    2019-01-09 11:59

    Withdrawn from Winnipeg LibraryDedication:For Phyllisanf forChrisopher, Vicki, Sydney, AbigailAndrew, Wendy, Gage, and Milliewith loveOpening: 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.

  • Leo Robillard
    2019-01-07 16:04

    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 by James during a summer vacation, is now aged and infirm – just as close to death’s door as his own daughter. Friendless, but for a hired nurse, Gabriel requests of James something so intimate and bizarre that it would tax even the thickest of friendships. However, as it stands, the two men were never more than acquaintances of proximity who could little more than tolerate each other’s company at times. And James finds that even now, sixty years after the fact, he is still jealous and bitter over the young woman Gabriel won from him that fateful summer. Nonetheless, compassion carries the day, and less than forty-eight hours later, James finds himself on a flight to Switzerland in the company Gabriel and his young nurse.Part love story, and part meditation on mortality, October shifts back and forth between the present and the past, from England and Switzerland to the summer of 1944 in the coastal village of Perce, Quebec. The secret to Wright’s success in this novel is his economy of language, and the concision with which he is able to sketch the most believable and psychologically complex characters at that exact moment in their lives when they are grappling with humanity’s most important mysteries. In October, Wright demonstrates a keen grasp of the complicated emotions within any relationship, and he uses this understanding to weave a story that is not only believable, but, in fact, inevitable. October is a case of all the right words in all the right places.

  • Her Royal Orangeness
    2018-12-31 14:11

    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 simply, “Meh.” It was interesting enough that I read through to the end, but the story lacked depth and emotionally poignancy. The plot rambled in many directions and nothing was ever resolved. There were some threads that were just left hanging, like what happened to the girl that both James and Gabriel fell in love with that summer. And Susan’s part of the plot is glossed over and tacked on to the end in an epilogue (which made me feel a bit cheated because it seemed so important at the beginning). Essentially, the book had an intriguing premise that fell flat due to poor execution.

  • Martha☀
    2018-12-30 13:59

    While coming to grips with the devastating news of his daughter's terminal cancer, James has a chance meeting with an old friend with whom he spent his fourteenth summer, some 50 years earlier. Caught off guard, James agrees to have dinner with Gabriel and then accompany Gabriel to Switzerland where he has arranged an assisted suicide.The juxtaposition of these two deaths is gently shocking - James' daughter wanting another month, another year of her life against Gabriel who has wished for death for ages. The whole situation makes me a cheerleader for James as he remains a pillar of strength for all, no matter what slights took place in the past.

  • Kathleen Nightingale
    2019-01-16 17:54

    I wanted to read this book since reading Nightfall. Nighfall is the sequel to October and I thought that I would really enjoy this book. It was ok. I knew the afterstory and found that I didn't enjoy the beginning story as much. I think if I had read October prior to Nighfall I probably wouldn't have been so eager to read Nighfall. For me, it just missed my really enjoying the storyline.

  • Marie Gallagher
    2019-01-04 12:52

    This book was absolutely amazing. Throughout the entire book I felt like I was on a roller coaster ride, experiencing every conceivable emotion possible. Despite that sadness, despair, hatred and disgust I felt in parts, it was so beautifully written that I couldn't help but love it. And in the end, that's the emotion I was left with; love.

  • Roslyn
    2019-01-15 20:20

    Beautifully written book about a man's contemplation of illness, disability, and demise. His description of struggle, as a young boy encountering a brash American boy-monster in a wheelchair; his encounter with the same person as an aged curmudgeon planning his own death.

  • Lillian
    2019-01-09 18:12

    I was quite surprised by this book. It was very engaging and beautifully written. I know the point of the book is to leave some of the threads unanswered, but dammit, I want to know what happens to some of those characters!

  • Maybaby
    2018-12-29 16:54

    Decent read. You can easily tell where the plot is going but it is written with such style it was a very satisfying read.

  • Anastasia
    2019-01-12 12:55

    He covers so much territory in this novel with such ease. It was a nice read on a quiet restful day.

  • Kris - My Novelesque Life
    2019-01-07 15:54

    4 STARS"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 war, when he was sent on a holiday to the Gaspé, is a mercurial figure, badly crippled by polio. A s an adolescent, James was both attracted to and repelled by Gabriel’s cocksure attitude and charm. He also fell hopelessly in love with Odette, a French- Canadian girl from the village, only to find himself in competition with the careless Gabriel. Now, at this random meeting over six decades later—as he struggles with the terrible possibility that he could outlive his own daughter—James is asked by Gabriel to accompany him on a final, unthinkable journey. A t last, James begins to see that all beginnings and endings are inexorably linked." (From Amazon)Reminds me of a novel from the late 1800s and early 1900s - like a classic novel. A bit like A Single Man but a better version.

  • Julie
    2018-12-24 18:55

    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 characters first met, I found it jumped around to much from past to present. I was expecting more of a story in the present on how the characters are dealing with the currently situation. Not a past event. Also, overall I found the story jumped around a lot, often going on little sidetracks that didn’t add much to the story. Perhaps the author did this to show how one’s mind jumps from memory to memory when faced with a loved one or old acquiescence’s death, and that was just how the character was reacting to it, but I just found it far to distracting and it took away from the overall story.Overall it just wasn’t the book for me. It isn’t bad, and I’m sure some people will enjoy it, but it just didn’t connect with me.Also found on my book review blogJules' Book Reviews - October

  • Shonna Froebel
    2019-01-01 18:07

    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 uncle and spent some of his days with a young American Gabriel Fontaine who was a victim of polio. It is Gabriel that he meets again in London and who requests James to go with him on a trip.The story goes back and forth between the present and the summer of 1944, and causes James to look at his own character and attitudes both past and present as well as those of others. There is also a theme of illness and mortality running through the novel that provides a key element to the story.I enjoyed this book thoroughly.

  • Marlene
    2018-12-23 19:02

    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 story, but it was a lovely painting of the period and the characters. I liked the way the author did not get into moralizing or philosophizing about how we should go about dying, or for that matter living (eg Odette). Also, he did not make a lot of the process of the daughter's dying. It was appropriate that she had a quick death. I wonder if it will be useful to know about going to Switzerland?

  • Craig
    2019-01-08 14:02

    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 bothered me a bit. As a male reader I have always thought he writes a very good female voice (What do women think?) but I was pleased to find a strong male character, not without flaws, in October.An excellent read and for me one of Wright’s better novels but I don’t believe it is receiving the same attention or critical acclaim as some of his other works. What did other Wright fans think?

  • Carole
    2019-01-14 12:06

    Richard B. Wright is a very economical writer. I really enjoyed reading this novel which tells a story, explores characters and settings and still manages to be very effective emotionally all in about 240 pages. Wright's use of parallel structure to reveal the narrator's handling of his daughter's illness in the present and his memories of his teenage experiences during a long ago summer in the Gaspe is also very effective. His portrayals of Gabriel and Odette are particularly vivid. All in all, a very satisfying novel which I was prompted to read by seeing a review of Wright's latest novel, "Nightfall" which is apparently a follow-up to Odette's character. Now that I have read "October", I can't wait to read more about Odette.

  • Georgina
    2019-01-04 17:17

    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 "knew him," but in the sense that I really do think I know someone like this. If that makes sense.I think I've filled my RBW quotient for this quarter. Moving on to a whole lot of Canadian YA next.

  • Sandy
    2018-12-28 13:54

    The story is about a man's memories of his teen years, in particular, one summer he spent in eastern Canada. In the present day of the story he is a retired professor of Literature who travels to England to visit his daughter where she is the headmistress of a private school. While there she tells his of her illness and treatment she will undertake. It is a well crafted story and details kept me reading late into the night. Not that I was under any pressure to get the book back to the library as it was that it was not a long book. I had already received what I thought was a follow up of October called Nightfall by Richard B. Wright. It was some weeks ago that I had picked it up at the library.

  • Doreen
    2019-01-19 16:06

    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 club members but I felt he missed the mark for me. As well the book continues with the disdain he shows for women that I feel was present in Adultery and to a lesser extent Clara Callan.

  • Pollyanna Darling
    2019-01-08 13:13

    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. There is some essential element missing. It feels as if the rich world of imagination has been cast out of Wright's words, leaving them flat and empty.

  • Despina
    2019-01-08 17:09

    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 for so much for us to say.

  • Tracy
    2018-12-26 18:09

    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 novel now hidden away in the bottom of the Swiss closet.

  • Roberta
    2018-12-24 20:08

    This is more of a 3.5 than a three but not quite a 4. I enjoy stories with two time lines. They allow me to see how the past is inextricably entwined with the present and how, in spite of aging and moving on into life, our basic natures don't change. The overall feeling of the book is sadness. All the characters, with the exception of Gabriel and Odette, seem remote and cool. Gabriel is sharp, with a cruel edge. Wright's style is quiet. Every word seems like just the right one and he never goes overboard on his description. I like his writing more all the time.

  • CynthiaA
    2018-12-26 18:01

    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.

  • Nisreen
    2019-01-14 15:11

    It was difficult to me to finish it, sometimes I had to force myself to read it just due to my commitment to the book, which I usually feel for all books I read. The writer was jumping in his scenes, one chapter in the past and the next chapter is 60 years earlier, then he returns to today in the following chapter and return back 60 years.... and so on. This I found it a little confusing especially in the first few chapters.Any way, a new experience to me.

  • Janet
    2019-01-14 14:00

    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.

  • Pat
    2019-01-20 17:15

    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.