A Celibate Season

Publisher: Vintage Canada
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.


1. Carol Shields spoke of becoming a writer because there weren’t enough books that examined women’s friendships and women’s inner lives — or, as she put it, “the kind of book I wanted to read but couldn’t find.” In what ways does Shields’s fiction bring the lives of women...

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"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