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Fiction Epistolary

A Celibate Season

by (author) Carol Shields

Random House of Canada
Initial publish date
Apr 1998
Epistolary, Marriage & Divorce, 20th Century
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Apr 1998
    List Price

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Originally published in 1991, this remarkable collaboration came about when Carol Shields and her friend Blanche Howard decided to tell two sides of the same story. Carol wrote the man's version and Blanche the woman's.

A Celibate Season is the story of what happens when Jocelyn and Charles, who have been married for years, are faced with a possible ten-month separation. In order to economize, they choose to write to each other rather than use the telephone. Through their letters, we follow the evolution and eventually the breakdown of communication. As the months progress, we begin to see two very distinct views of this time apart. Their "season of celibacy," as they initially joked, is proving to be more of a challenge than either had imagined and tests the strength and commitment of their marriage.

About the author

Carol Shields was born in Oak Park, Illinois, in 1935 and moved to Canada, at the age of 22, after studying at the University of Exeter in England and the University of Ottawa. She was the author of over 20 books, including plays, poetry, essays, short fiction, novels, a work of criticism on Susanna Moodie, and a biography of Jane Austen. Her 1993 novel The Stone Diaries won the Governor General's Award for Fiction, the American Book Critics' Circle Award, and the Pulitzer Prize. It was also a runner up for the Booker Prize, bringing her an international following. Larry's Party (also available from BTC Audiobooks) won England's Orange Prize, given to the best book by a woman writer in the English-speaking world. Carol Shields died in July 2003 in Victoria after a long struggle with cancer.

Carol Shields' profile page

Editorial Reviews

"A Celibate Season is intelligent, subtle, symmetrical; like all our favourite seasons, it passes by all too quickly." -Quill & Quire
"Great fun-- This is accomplished light entertainment from two serious writers. Beneath its polished surface lurks a reactionary fable." -The Montreal Gazette

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