The Wright Retreat

Sylvia Drummond Wright is determined not to have anything to do with the Wright Retreat, but as an eclectic group of people converge in the renovated lodge by the water, compelling stories and beautiful friendships emerge and Sylvia finds herself drawn in. By the time the retreat is over, not a single person is unchanged. Even the lodge itself has been transformed from a place of terror to one of healing.

Pregnancies with tragic endings and women learning to heal from past trauma also feature prominently in Susan White’s latest novel, The Wright Retreat. Sylvia Wright is a novelist with six books under her belt. Raised on Grand Manan by her grandparents, Wright is looking to get away from a stifling life in Toronto, where she lives with her husband, Kent, “the take-charge guy.”

On a whim, Sylvia buys a rambling New Brunswick property on the Northumberland Shore as an escape. Seeing opportunity, Kent fixes the place up and advertises it as a writing retreat, featuring mentorship from his wife, the Giller long-listed writer.

Trouble is, Sylvia is not on board with the whole scheme. The experience will bring issues she has long repressed to the fore.

If you’ve ever been on a writing retreat, The Wright Retreat will ring true. There are the people who just can’t get started, the ones who have spent their lives thinking they should write their story and are finally getting around to it, and the ones who already have published but are in a rut.

More importantly, they are all in some way damaged by their past—abusive partners, mistreatment at residential school and at the hands of nuns running a home for pregnant teens, debilitating anxiety, and relationships that have changed or ended. And as the characters come to grips with their traumas, the awful history of the retreat location itself is revealed.

“Life comes with layers and layers of pain. And healing is hard work,” says one of the characters in The Wright Retreat. “You have to wait, be patient, and be willing to let the deep wound heal right to the core. Some folks aren’t able to do the work

Philip Moscovitch

Atlantic Books Today