Catherine Gildiner

Presented by Cathy Redfern to the Calgary Women’s Literary Club, Nov. 6, 2018


Catherine Gildiner’s first volume, Too Close to the Falls (ECW Press, 1999), is the first of a memoir trilogy that was followed by After The Falls: Coming of Age in the Sixties (Alfred A. Knopf Canada, 2009) and Coming Ashore (ECW 2014). The first volume has laugh-out-loud humour and describes, in the style befitting a young precocious Cathy McClure (her maiden name), life during the conservative 1950s in small-town Lewistown, New York. She describes a childhood that, though chock-a-block with incredible escapades, was a happy, secure one, albeit in some ways unconventional. Arguably, After the Falls has a less sassy, more sombre tone than Too Close as she describes her activism in the civil rights movement after the death of Martin Luther King, Jr. and explores more fully her relationship with her parents. Nonetheless, that and the concluding volume, that narrates her time in Oxford, Cleveland and Toronto from 1968 until 1974, acquire greater depth and continue to demonstrate her strengths. She is a gifted story-teller who vividly evokes the cultural texture of the eras of her memoirs. She also reveals her humour, her vulnerabilities and above all her humanity, alongside a penchant for finding herself in bizarre and almost improbable circumstances.

Too Close to the Falls has received the following awards/success…

  • Extended New York Times best seller list
  • Holds Canadian record for The Globe and Mail best seller’s list — 104 weeks
  • On the Boston Globe’s best seller’s list
  • Short listed for Trillium Award
  • Won Different Drummer’s Award 2000
  • On The National Post’s best seller list for over a year
  • Listed in The Globe’s top 100 books for 2000
  • Short listed for the British Young Minds Book Award
  • Australia Best Book of the Year

Fiction, Non-Fiction & Historical

Seduction, 2005, Vintage Canada

Catherine Gildiner gives us not only a gripping detective story full of shifting characters and fast-paced twists through the letters and papers of Sigmund Freud, Charles Darwin and the venerable Wedgwood family.

Good Morning Monster – about to be published. A look at the challenges facing several of Dr. Gildiner’s most remarkable patients.

Underground (working title) – currently being written on the underground railway to Canada


  • Gildiner was born in Lewiston, New York, raised in Niagara Falls, New York, and spent her teen years in Amherst near Buffalo. She ventured to Oxford, Cleveland and eventually landed in Toronto where she currently lives with her husband and three sons.
  • Education:
    B.A (1970) and M.A. in English Literature (1971) M.A in Psychology (1975) and Ph.D. in Psychology (1983)
  • Professions:
    Author, novelist, columnist, screenwriter, clinical psychologist


  • Lakeshore Psychiatric, Clarke Research Institute,              
  • Taught at University of Toronto and York University,          
  • Private practice 1985-2001, Toronto
  • Reviewed in:
  • Wall Street Journal
  • Elle magazine
  • Well and Tribune
  • The Tribune
  • Publisher’s Weekly
  • On-Line