Four Umbrellas


A writing couple searches for answers when Alzheimer's causes one of them to lose the place where stories come from — memory.

At the age of fifty-three, Tony walks away from a life of journalism and into an unknown future. June is forty-eight, a writer and teacher, and over the following decade watches as her husband changes — in interests, goals, and behaviour — until Tony has a fall, ending the life they had known.

A diagnosis is seven years away, yet the signs of Alzheimer’s are all around. A suitcase Tony packs for a trip is jammed with four umbrellas, a visual symbol of cognitive looping. But how far back do these signs go? The couple starts probing the past and finding answers. This is not an old person’s disease.


Four Umbrellas is a moving and intimate memoir that rattled in my head with its simple beauty. Brimming with courageous, tender, and insightful reflections, the reader cannot help but be accidentally inspired.

Anthony De Sa, author of Barnacle Love

June Hutton and Tony Wanless have written a rare gem of a memoir: a candid and clear-eyed insiders’ account of a couple’s journey into Alzheimer’s. With first-person narratives from both caregiver and patient, this is a journey of discovery valiantly shared. A must-read.

Janie Chang, author of Dragon Springs Road

The authors present a harrowing, moving seven-year odyssey, rendered in heart-wrenchingly sad yet compassionate and loving detail.

Kirkus Reviews

The memoir skillfully weaves reflective emails from Wanless to Hutton into the narrative, allowing readers to witness step by painful step, the impact of the 'long, slow fade' the disease imparts.

Publishers Weekly

About the Authors

June Hutton

Posted by Dundurn Guest on February 18, 2020
June Hutton photo

June Hutton

June Hutton has written two novels and facilitates writing workshops at a treatment centre for addiction. She lives in Vancouver.

Tony Wanless

Posted by Dundurn Guest on February 18, 2020
Tony Wanless photo

Tony Wanless

Tony Wanless worked for a variety of newspapers across Canada, including the Financial Post and the Province, and is taking part in a study on Alzheimer's at UBC Hospital. He lives in Vancouver.