The Umbrella Mender
Christine Fischer Guy
300 pages | ISBN 978-1-894987-90-5
Much is undecided. The doctors talk over me, debating the possibility that I’ll speak again.
Though a stroke has left her mute, the story Hazel has to share is unforgettable. As a talented nurse in the early 1950s, she went to Moose Factory to help fight the epidemic of tuberculosis that was ravaging the indigenous peoples of the north. Each week the boat brought new patients from the Nunavik region to the little hospital. It was a desperate undertaking, fraught with cultural and language difficulties that hampered the urgent, sometimes reckless, efforts of the medical staff. Hazel is soon distracted from the tensions of the hospital by an enigmatic drifter named Gideon Judge, an itinerant umbrella mender, who is searching for the Northwest Passage.
From her own hospital bed, the older Hazel struggles to pass on to her grandniece the harrowing tale of her past in the north, including the fate of Gideon and the heartbreaking secrets she left behind. With arresting characters, a richly drawn setting and impeccable prose, author Christine Fischer Guy weaves a story that lingers long after the book is closed.
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Reviews | Interviews | Articles | Excerpts | Videos | About the Author
Review (Andrew Wilmot, Broken Pencil, 01/08/2015)
“Fischer Guy’s writing is strong, well paced, and evocative. The northern setting is rendered more through the characters’ interactions than by excessive detail, which works to the novel’s advantage. And the relationships, especially those between Hazel and Ruth, and Hazel and Doctor Lachlan, reinforce this.”
Review (Small Press Bookwatch, 09/03/2015)
"A terrifically entertaining read from first page to last.... Deftly crafted characters and a complex but gripping plot."
Review (Laura Rock, Ottawa Review of Books, 31/12/2014)
“Fischer Guy writes supple sentences that rarely call attention to themselves. They are as fluid and forceful as the river, uncommonly beautiful.”
"The CanLit umbrella" (Philip Marchand, National Post, 25/11/2014)
“The arc of the narrative is a tragic one, and the turn of events shocking and distressing…. Guy, fortunately, keeps the reader interested partly because she avoids setting up stereotypical opposites.”
Author Christine Fischer Guy invited to Words in the Woods event near Mattawa (Markus Schwabe, Morning North, 18/04/2018)
Christine Fischer Guy discusses her role at Words in the Woods and her novel.
"In Conversation with Christine Fischer Guy" (Ariel Gordon, Winnipeg Free Press, 25/02/2015)
"Use It as Your Own Story: An Interview with Christine Fischer Guy" (Jared Young, Puritan Magazine, 23/02/2015)
“While on the surface The Umbrella Mender might seem like it’s written in a pretty traditional narrative style, there’s some really interesting, nuanced stuff happening with point of view and tense.”
"Lost: Christine Fischer Guy's The Umbrella Mender" (Laurie Grassi, Laurie Grassi, 03/12/2014)
“What particularly fascinated me about this novel is Fischer Guy’s examination of the effects of relocation on the Cree and Inuit people who have tuberculosis — they were often forcibly moved to sanatoriums — as well as her look at how Hazel’s work with Dr. Davies escapes the bounds of social mores. I asked her questions about these aspects of the book and more.”
"The Dirty Dozen, with Christine Fischer Guy" (Grace O'Connell, Open Book Toronto, 16/09/2014)
“Christine Fischer Guy's debut novel, The Umbrella Mender (Wolsak & Wynn), has already piqued our interest with its mysterious and beautiful book trailer (which you can see here), so we're especially excited to talk to her today.”
"Novel looks at TB Outbreak in Moose Factory" (Jason Turnbull, Up North, 15/09/2014)
Novelist Christine Fischer Guy on the Value of Canadian Stories (Open Book, 28/01/2019)
Christine Fischer Guy discusses the value of Canadian Stories in a video for I Value Canadian Stories.
"Companions, Interlocutors, Mentors and Time Thieves" (Kerry Clare, 49th Shelf, 11/12/2014)
"The Umbrella Mender is a novel with tremendous depth, with nothing at all careless in its construction. And its author's skills as a careful reader and skilled writer are clearly in evidence here with a list of books that informed her during the years she was writing her book."
"Last-minute gift ideas: indie booksellers hand-pick fiction" (Quill & Quire, 10/12/2014)
The Umbrella Menderwas featured as one of six fiction titles hand-picked by independent booksellers.
"Christine Fischer Guy: I am Jude" (Christine Fischer Guy, National Post, 18/11/2014)
“It’s a sort of possession-ventriloquism hybrid that happens when we create the world of a novel and the people in it…. At some point during the fourth draft, they ceased to be characters I invented. They became people I knew.”
"Cover to cover: Marijke Friesen on designing The Umbrella Mender" (Becky Robertson, Quill & Quire, 20/10/2014)
"Combining elements of earlier iterations left us all feeling as though we finally had the right cover."
"Fall Preview Week: Day Two, Publisher's Picks" (Amber Goldie, All Lit Up, 23/09/2014)
“Christine Fischer Guy had me at ‘itinerant umbrella mender who is searching for the Northwest Passage.’ That the conception of this novel comes from a memoir of a relative of the author is a draw — it’s that confluence of history and fiction that now blended, become truth. The book trailer is lovely — atmospheric and inviting.”
"First Fiction Fridays: The Umbrella Mender" (All Lit Up, 19/09/2014)
“With sharply drawn characters and impeccable prose, The Umbrella Mender draws readers into the past, the isolated north and the lives of those who lived there. It’s a story that lingers long after the book is closed.”
"Best Canadian Book Trailers" (Kerry Clare, 49th Shelf, 04/09/2014)
“Readers are eagerly awaiting The Umbrella Mender, the debut novel by award-winning writer Christine Fischer-Guy, which promises to be as beautiful and haunting as its trailer.”
"Video of the Week: Book Trailer for Christine Fischer Guy's Debut, The Umbrella Mender" (Grace O'Connell, Open Book Toronto, 25/08/2014)
"In one of our favourite recent book trailers, debut author Christine Fischer Guy makes use of stop motion animation and some serious art skills (contributed by Sophia Oppel) to spread the word about her new novel, The Umbrella Mender (Wolsak & Wynn)."
"First novel from Award-Winning Alumna" (jharris124, Words in Place: English @ Waterloo, 17/08/2014)
The blog for the Department of English Language and Literature at the University of Waterloo posted a congratulations to Christine Fischer Guy for the publication of her first novel.
"Most Anticipated: Our 2014 Fall Fiction Preview" (Kerry Clare, 49th Shelf, 05/08/2014)
Kerry Clare lists The Umbrella Mender as one of their most anticipated fiction titles for fall 2014.
Christine Fischer Guy is a Page Turner. Are You? (Project Bookmark Canada, 30/04/2014)
"Fellow Page Turner Miriam Toews calls Christine's book 'an absolutely compelling read from start to finish.'"
Click here to read an excerpt from The Umbrella Mender.
Christine Fischer Guy reads from The Umbrella Mender at Malvern Books in Austin, Texas.
Christine Fischer Guy read from The Umbrella Mender on the Spark Stage at Inspire! Toronto's International Book Fair on October 14, 2014.
Check out the book trailer for The Umbrella Mender
Christine Fischer Guy’s fiction has appeared in journals across Canada and has been nominated for the Journey Prize. She reviews for the Globe and Mail, contributes to Ryeberg.com and themillions.com and teaches creative writing at the School for Continuing Studies at the University of Toronto. She is also an award-winning journalist. She has lived and worked in London, England, and now lives in Toronto.