In If Clara, nobody stands on firm ground. Daisy, a writer confined to her home, her leg in a cast from hip to ankle, receives a parcel containing the manuscript of a novel about a Syrian refugee and is asked to pose as its writer. Julia, the curator at the Kleinzahler Gallery, has no idea that her sister, Clara, has written a novel. However, she does know that Clara suffers from a debilitating mental illness, is unpredictable, and lapses easily into hostility. Maurice's life is changed by an art installation involving a pair of binoculars welded to the wall through which visitors are invited to observe passersby outside. An ultralight aircraft's collision with a quiet lawn brings them all together. If Clara explores the emotional weight of friendship, the complexity of family, and people inextricably entwined.
“Clara, despite her volatility, is the novel’s linchpin — a creative choice that speaks to Baillie’s characteristic cerebral playfulness as well as her allegiance to characters held on society’s margins . .. Baillie’s empathetic portrayal of Clara shows a mind following its own kind of logic. There’s a lighter tone to this novel, so it might surprise readers how much it has to say about creativity and the fractured self. ” — Globe and Mail
“If Clara finds Baillie at the top of her game with this complex, deftly layered new novel … a richly rewarding read to sink into for a solitary afternoon. ” — Toronto Star
“In clean prose made buoyant with whimsy and allegory, Baillie tells of the bonds between sisters, daughters, and mothers, between friends, and between lovers of literature. If Clara is ultimately an intergenerational novel whose deeply felt characters speak to the universality of suffering while raising challenging questions about entitlement. ” — Quill & Quire, starred review