Significant Things


Short-listed for the 2004 Commonwealth Writers Prize Best Book Award, Caribbean and Canada Region

A man of innate taste and discrimination, Edward has become an art dealer and collector of fine antiques and paintings. During his first six idyllic years he was the centre and focus of his mother’s existence. Betrayals and unhappiness in subsequent years have led him to form almost fetishistic attachments to beautiful objects, as a substitute for the human relationships that have invariably failed him.

Now in his late forties, on a holiday in Sicily, Edward falls deeply in love with a young English-Italian artist, but he has not yet learned that there is a difference between loving and possessing.


Commonwealth Writers Prize Best Book Award, Caribbean and Canada Region


McLean's familiarity with art, her skill in depicting human flaws and foibles, her talent for creating realistic dialogue, her ability to tell a story, and her vivid prose all make Significant Things a rewarding reading experience.

Canadian Book Review Annual

McLean has given us a romance, complete with wonderful settings, gorgeous objects and unrequited love.

Globe and Mail (May, 2003)

This is a finely wrought, mature first novel with some significant things to say about beauty and life.

Quill and Quire (April, 2003)

Helen McLean builds a deep story of loneliness, separation, and an appreciation of beauty.

Uptown Magazine (Winnipeg, MB) (June, 2003)

a sympathetic and thought-provoking story.

Hamilton Spectator (April, 2003)

About the Author

Helen McLean

Posted by Dundurn Guest on December 6, 2014

Helen McLean

Writer and artist Helen McLean was born in Toronto where she now lives. She has exhibited her paintings across Canada, and has been a teacher and a journalist. She is the author of Sketching from Memory (Oberon Press), Of All the Summers (Women's Press), and the acclaimed memoir Details From a Larger Canvas (Dundurn Press).