Wiebke von Carolsfeld

September 2019

How to survive the unthinkable? This is the question nine-year-old Tom has to face after witnessing his parent’s murder-suicide. After the horrific event, Tom refuses to speak. At first, he moves in with his childless Aunt Sonya, but she is ill equipped to deal with the traumatized boy. Before long, Tom is forced to move again, this time to Claremont Street in downtown Toronto, where he shares a run-down house with his mercurial Aunt Rose and his reckless yet endearing Uncle Will. As the seasons change, Tom’s silence becomes a powerful presence, allowing this fractured family to hear one another for the first time— and for Tom to finally find a home. Claremont is a gripping story of one family’s journey through grief and toward healing.

Cologne-based publisher Kiepenheuer & Witsch has secured the German and World rights for Claremont and are planning a 2021 publication date for the German edition.

Wiebke von Carolsfeld is a German-born writer and filmmaker living in Montreal. She has directed three critically acclaimed feature films (Marion Bridge, STAY, The Saver), winning numerous awards, including Best First Feature at TIFF and Sudbury, Canada’s Top Ten, Best Screenplay from the Chlotrudis Society along with nominations from the Canadian Screen Awards, the DGC, the AIFF, and the WGC. She is a renowned feature film editor and has taught classes internationally on screenwriting, filmmaking, and the creative process. Claremont is her first novel.

$21.95 | ISBN: 9781773900230

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What they say
"One of the best Canadian debuts of the year"
Ian McGillis

Opening a novel with such a shattering event might run the risk of overwhelming the rest of the book. Claremont avoids that pitfall because ultimately it’s about something else.

“A lot of movies and stories end with a huge climax, but for me it’s always been a question of what comes after,” von Carolsfeld said. “I’m not so much interested in the ‘why’ (of the murder-suicide). That’s a question that’s unsolvable, anyway. I’m interested in how people move on after something like this.”

One of those ways in Claremont is through occasional doses of levity, deftly woven into the kind of narrative that might appear resistant to such things.

“It’s a coping mechanism,” von Carolsfeld said. “I wanted it in the novel because it’s something we all need.”

October 4, 2019. Read more: Montreal Gazette

In Conversation: "Writing a novel is a lot of work!"
Karolin Tuncel,

You are known around the world for your enchanting movies. Now you are about to publish your first book entitled “Claremont”. What made you decide to express yourself in the form of a novel this time, instead of making another film?
Wiebke von Carolsfeld: I love film and the way images can express emotions, how actions reveal what is going on inside a character. I love the magic that happens when actors take your words and make them their own – but literature is unparalleled in its ability to allow us insight into the interior world of people. Claremont is about grief, about shifting interior landscapes in multiple characters after experiencing tragedy – and that is difficult to express in film. Additionally, Claremont is told from four different points of view (Tom, the child at the centre of the story, and then two of his aunts plus an uncle). Telling this story as a novel let me explore how the same event can feel so differently to people involved, depending on who they are in the world and how they experience themselves in it. Because of the interior nature of grief, telling this particular story as a novel made sense. Plus, I didn’t need a couple of million dollars to tell it. Film is very expensive and raising money to tell intimate stories like this is almost impossible, so expressing myself in prose made it possible for me to tell this story. I could just sit down and write it – though of course there is no ‘just’ when it comes to writing a novel. 
September 2019,


"Carolsfeld's characters are vivid"
Rachel Pisani, Quill & Quire

"Claremont, by filmmaker turned novelist Wiebke von Carolsfeld, is a novel about the emotionally messy Michajelovich family, all of whom come with their own baggage and their own techniques for lugging it through life."
September 2019, Quill & Quire

"A welcome surprise"
Jim Fisher, Miramichi Reader

"A very convincing and a very gratifying read. Family, trust, failures and regrets, and underneath it all, a young boy who was spared being part of a family murder-suicide. A laudable first book. I am adding it to the 2020 longlist for “The Very Best!” Book Awards for Best First Book (Fiction)."
September 2019, The Miramichi Reader

High praise

“This lovely, gripping novel, with its sense of wonder and horror about the adult world, has a Spielberg-ian quality. It is a resonant tale about a child’s loss of innocence, the terrible fracturing of a family and the purifying path to healing and reconciliation. 

Claremont is also an enormously impressive city-specific novel. Rarely has one funky part of Toronto been so brilliantly brought to life.”
John Doyle, Globe and Mail columnist and bestselling author.

"Wiebke von Carolsfeld brings the nuanced beauty and magic of her award-winning, highly acclaimed films to Claremont and the result is a passionate story of a fractured family brought together by catastrophe and trauma. The ways in which they do and do not meet the challenge of caring for the child at the centre of the tragedy is alternately funny, messy, revealing, and uplifting – and always deeply absorbing."
Edeet Ravel, author Ten Thousand Lovers

"Claremont is big-hearted and rollicking -- a hosanna to messy families and their underestimated resilience."
Sean Michaels, winner Giller Prize


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