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Friday, October 16, 2015

Reviews Archive - Richard B. Wright and "Mr. Shakespeare's Bastard"

Today I thought I’d feature a Canadian writer whom I believe is underrated:  Richard B. Wright.    He has written 12 novels:                 
The Weekend Man (1970)
In the Middle of a Life (1973)
Farthing's Fortunes (1976)
Final Things (1980)
The Teacher's Daughter (1982)
Tourists (1984)
Sunset Manor (1990)
The Age of Longing (1995)
Clara Callan (2001)
Adultery (2004)
October (2007)
Mr. Shakespeare's Bastard (2011)
He is best known for Clara Callan which won both the Giller Prize and the Governor-General’s Award for Fiction.

Here’s my brief review of his most recent novel, Mr. Shakespeare’s Bastard:
Image result for mr shakespeare's bastard
Shakespeare's personal life is poorly documented, leaving room for much speculation.  This novel speculates that The Bard fathered an illegitimate daughter, although he remained unaware of her existence.  This daughter, Aerlene Ward, is the 70-year-old narrator who tells the story of her own life and that of her mother.  Understandably she becomes obsessed with the father's plays, and passages from them are inserted and connected to Aerlene's situation.  Aerlene especially likes Hamlet which explores themes with parallels in her life.
Shakespeare is really a secondary character in the book; the novel focuses more on its female protagonists. There are, in fact, several interesting women. As in his other novels, especially Clara Callan, Wright portrays female characters convincingly.
The book sheds no new light on Shakespeare's life, but does illuminate life both in the country and in London during his lifetime.

Yesterday, Wright’s memoir was released:  A Life with Words:  A Writer’s Memoir.  Here’s a description of that book from
“From the acclaimed writer of the beloved Clara Callan comes a beautifully crafted, charming portrait of the writing life.  Combining his characteristic wit and self-deprecation with his extraordinary imagination and insight, Richard B. Wright has created a deeply affecting memoir that reads like a novel.
 “As a small, watchful boy growing up in a working class family in Midland, Ontario, during the Second World War, Wright gradually discovered that he saw the world through different eyes.  His intellectual and sexual awakenings, his exploits as a young salesman in Canadian publishing, his painful struggles to become a writer—all of this is balanced against the extraordinary reception that in the 1970s greeted his first novel, The Weekend Man, which was published around the world to great acclaim.  In spite of the sometimes crippling depression that haunted him and the ups and downs of the mid-life writer, he would finally achieve overwhelming success with Clara Callan, the Giller-winning work that swept every award in Canada and revitalized his career.
“Lovers of Wright’s work will appreciate behind-the-scenes glimpses of his craft in individual novels and his exploration of how a writer transmutes experience into art.  And readers will enjoy his thoughtful exploration of the essential role of storytelling in our lives.  A Life with Words is both a celebration of the writing life and a deeply personal—at times revelatory—invitation into the world of the imagination” (

If you have not read this author, check him out.  You will not be disappointed.