April 26, 2018

A Celibate Season

A Celibate Season by Carol Shields and Blanche Howard
1991 Penguin Books
Finished on September 9, 2017
Rating: 4.5/5 (Very Good)

Publisher's Blurb:

A passionate and profound portrait of marriage -- told entirely through letters -- from two award-winning authors.

"In retrospect it seems somewhat wacky to me that... we didn't stop to consider the problems that might accompany ten months of celibate life."

For Jocelyn and Charles, the demands of family and career mean a ten-month separation, during which they decide to communicate with one another by writing letters. Each finds this intimate and exhilarating, as they are able to reveal things that would never be spoken aloud. Yet as the months pass, their letters depict two very distinct views of their time apart -- and of their marriage. As the separation begins to unravel the threads that bind their marriage together, we bear witness to the evolution and eventually the breakdown of communication. For their "season of celibacy," as they originally joked, is proving to be more of a challenge than either had ever imagined, one that tests the strength of their marriage and their commitment to one another.

I am a huge fan of epistolary novels and A Celibate Season didn't disappoint! I enjoyed this slim book, although it got a little bogged down with the details of Jock's (Jocelyn) job with the Commission in Ottawa. I was not happy with the last few letters (I almost threw the book across the room!) in which there was a turn of events that I wasn't expecting and left me feeling disappointed with both the characters and the authors. And yet, I was satisfied with the conclusion of the story and believe it's a book I will want to read again at a later date.


  1. I love epistolary novels too and am adding this to my wish list.

    1. Kathy, let me know how you like it! I think it would make a good movie.

  2. Epistolary + Carol Shields = awesome! I have now read all of Shields' books. All of her books are so quietly good.
    Couple of my fav Canadian epistolary: The Incident Report (Baillie) and Clara Callen (Wright)

    1. Raidergirl3, thanks for the recommendations for Canadian epistolaries!

  3. Oh I didn't know about this one. I've so enjoyed several of Carol Shields' books so I will have to look for this one!

    1. Iliana, I tried one of her other novels (many years ago) and couldn't get interested, but this one was a winner.


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