The Umbrella Mender

The Umbrella Mender

by Christine Fischer Guy
  • literary
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.


Christine Fischer Guy, author

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 and 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.


  • 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. - Philip Marchand, National Post
  • Fischer Guy writes supple sentences that rarely call attention to themselves. They are as fluid and forceful as the river, uncommonly beautiful. - Laura Rock, Ottawa Review of Books Link to review
  • 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. - Andrew Wilmot, The Broken Pencil

Rights Holder

Rights Holder: Transatlantic Literary Agency



rights available: World, excl. North America

Additional Information

number of pages: 300

publication date: 09/16/2014

Original language of pub: English

Materials Available: finished book