Skip to main content Skip to search Skip to search

Fiction Literary

Breaking and Entering

by (author) Don Gillmor

Initial publish date
Aug 2023
Literary, Contemporary Women
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Aug 2023
    List Price
  • Downloadable audio file

    Publish Date
    Aug 2023
    List Price

Add it to your shelf

Where to buy it


One of the Globe and Mail's Most Anticipated Titles of 2023 • Listed in CBC Books Fiction to Read in Fall 2023 • A 49th Shelf Fall Book To Put On Your List

During the hottest summer on record, Bea's dangerous new hobby puts everyone's sense of security to the test.

Forty-nine and sweating through the hottest summer on record, Beatrice Billings is rudderless: her marriage is stale, her son communicates solely through cryptic text messages, her mother has dementia, and she conducts endless arguments with her older sister in her head. Toronto feels like an inadequately air-conditioned museum of its former self, and the same could be said of her life. She dreams of the past, her days as a newlywed, a new mom, a new homeowner gutting the kitchen—now the only novel experience that looms is the threat of divorce.

Everything changes when she googles "escape" and discovers the world of amateur lock-picking. Breaking into houses is thrilling: she’s subtle and discreet, never greedy, but as her curiosity about other people’s lives becomes a dangerous compulsion and the entire city feels a few degrees from boiling over, she realizes she must turn her guilty analysis on herself. A searingly insightful rendering of midlife among the anxieties of the early twenty-first century, Breaking and Entering is an exacting look at the fragility of all the things we take on faith.

About the author

Don Gillmor’s most recent book To the River won the 2019 Governor General’s Literary Award for non-fiction. He is the author of a two-volume history of Canada, Canada: A People’s History, which won the Libris Award, and two other books of non-fiction, The Desire of Every Living Thing and I Swear by Apollo. He has written three critically acclaimed novels – Kanata, Mount Pleasant and Long Change – as well as nine books for children, two of which were nominated for a Governor General’s Award. He has won twelve National Magazine Awards, including the Outstanding Achievement Award. He lives in Toronto with his wife and two children.

Don Gillmor's profile page

Editorial Reviews

Praise for Breaking and Entering

"In a quiet story that takes place over only a few summer months, the Canadian author deftly converges doubt, infidelity and the fragility of family in a narrative that is both thrilling and relatable."
New York Times

"Gillmor succeeds at pulling you into the hopes, dreams, expectations, desires, anxieties and pathologies of his characters ... Like jazz, the moments of tension in the book give away to moments of relief, only to return to building tension once more ... reading it will strike a chord."
—David Moscorp, Globe and Mail

"Bea (is) ... a powerfully drawn character ... Every aspect of the novel feels true. Her relationship ... is not only closely (almost clinically) observed, but also deeply felt, lived in. That balance, between critical distance and emotional immersion, lends the novel a powerful verisimilitude."
—Toronto Star

"The genius of this book is to capture the exact way a familiar world of aging parents and divorcing friends and nice charcuterie platters could go right around the bend. ... A smart, funny, and sneakily terrifying version of the way we live now. (Do not read without working air conditioning.)"
Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)

"Knowledge is mostly sadness in this intelligent ... book: No matter where Bea breaks in, she keeps finding herself."
—Sam Sacks, Wall Street Journal

“Gillmor is adept at capturing the zeitgeist with sweeping brush strokes and vivid references.”
—Literary Review of Canada

"A searing tale of midlife, the need to be seen, and how easy it is to lose oneself by slow degrees, Breaking and Entering is written with Gillmor's trademark power and insight, a novel of depth and painful truths filtered through strikingly rendered characters."
—Open Book

"Gillmor is a skilled writer."
—Winnipeg Free Press

"While we don’t recommend stealing, we do recommend living vicariously through Bea’s sticky fingers."

"A good read."
—The Miramichi Reader

"A devastating and droll portrait of middle age that will be instantly recognizable to the 'sandwich generation,' stuck between kids and parents, and just generally stuck. It's a period of life that makes you want to do crazy things, and the only escape is other people."
—Stephen Marche, author of The Hunger of the Wolf

Praise for Don Gillmor

To The River: Losing My Brother is haunting, beautifully written and rightly hesitant about any certainties regarding an act as ultimately unknowable in social terms as it is in individual decisions.”
—Brian Bethune, Maclean’s

“Gillmor took on the thankless, though compelling, existential task of understanding another man’s life, happiness and grief. And what makes it worth leaving.”
—Globe and Mail

"[Long Change] is an intimate epic, a tightly focused personal narrative set against one of the most powerful economic forces of the twentieth century ... a window into a world which few readers will have really considered."
—National Post

"A wisely, darkly, deeply, hysterically funny novel. I could have read a thousand pages of [Mount Pleasant's] insights into the absurd and terrifying enlightenments of middle age."
—Linden MacIntyre, author of The Winter Wives

“As he explores the cultural, sociological and psychological questions surrounding suicide, Gillmor circles ever closer to an answer to the central question of those left behind: Why? On the way, he draws back the curtain on a subject too little discussed ... At its heart, though, To the River is a family story, focused on a brother’s love and loss. It is a keen-edged, frank book, beautiful and unflinching, painful and important.”
—Robert J. Wiersema, author of Seven Crow Stories

“A beautiful, shattering book. Wise and honest, and exquisitely written. Insight for anyone who has known the gnawing sorrow or the endless accusation of a senseless loss. It will also make you laugh out loud. Go figure.”
—Linden MacIntyre, Scotiabank Giller Prize-winning author of The Bishop’s Man

Other titles by Don Gillmor