A Couple’s Journey Into Young-Onset Alzheimer’s

Dundurn Press, Tantor Media, October 2020

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. Readers will find this insightful look into existence with this life-altering disease both educational and inspiring.”

— Publishers Weekly

Listen to CBC’s Sheryl MacKay talk with June Hutton and Tony Wanless about their book Four Umbrellas: A Couple’s Journey Into Young-Onset Alzheimer’s




Caitlin Press, September 2015

Fact blends with fiction in this dramatic tale that is part historical novel, part steampunk opera, and part otherworldly western. In 1922 a lone woman arrives in a filthy frontier mining town in the Pacific Northwest. Her goal: to resurrect her dead uncle’s newspaper. Within two days a naked man is shot dead, a famous man is rumoured to be heading their way and the only man capable of fixing her broken-down press so that she might spread this news is a printer from the forbidden settlement of Lousetown.

Over the next month, Lila Sinclair will take even bigger risks to see her business thrive—from her questionable news reporting to her negotiations with a partner who’s a liar and a gambler. Reckless, stubborn, Lila works long hours next to her printer to see her dream through, only to discover all that she could lose.

Inspired by the historical figures Morris “Two Gun” Cohen and Dr. Sun Yat-sen, whose joint pursuits would later bolster a revolution that ushered in the modern era for China, Two-Gun & Sun is further informed by Puccini’s La Fanciulla del West, with its themes of intercultural love in the Old West.

“A lively, satisfying narrative … [June Hutton] reveals herself as an artful historical storyteller. No, she’s not recounting the factual truth – she’s a novelist, after all – but her fictional take on her subject succeeds as a modern-day adventure tale that manages to be emotionally satisfying while describing one woman’s excursion to a bygone and largely forgotten heart of darkness.”

Quill & Quire

“Intelligent, cerebral, and intensely entertaining.”

Historical Novel Review

“Both sweeping and meticulous”

All Lit Up book club

“A lovely and satisfying novel.”

Raspberry Magazine

“This is a swashbuckling tale, full of mysterious twists and turns, a page-turner…”

The Malahat Review




March 2009

Underground is about one man’s epic journey from the mud of the Somme to the burnt fields of civil war Spain. The story of Albert Fraser spans twenty years and thousands of miles, through dire poverty of the 1930s in Canada, and deadly violence. Battle-scarred, he searches for an answer to the question, Who am I? and, in a seemingly rash and contradictory act, returns to war.

Underground was called “taut and lean, elegant and poetic” by The Globe and Mail. It was shortlisted for the Ontario Library Association’s 2010 Evergreen Award, named a Vancouver Sun Must-Read BC Book, Fall 2009, as well as a  CBC Cross-country Check-up and BC Almanac summer read 2009.


To order a copy of Underground contact june(AT)junehutton(DOT COM)

“June Hutton has found poetry in the underground worlds of wartime trenches, Chinatown tunnels, depression-era work camps, and the bomb craters of the Spanish Civil War.”  — Jack Hodgins, author of Broken Ground and The Master of Happy Endings

Underground is a remarkable piece of work – the inner life of Al, the extraordinary social & political context of his life, the evocation of very particular times and places – the whole thing shot through and through with a vivid style and a voice completely under control.” — Myrna Kostash, author of Prodigal Daughter, A Journey to Byzantium

“Hutton’s prose is taut and lean, elegant and poetic, reminding me at times of Annie Proulx.” — The Globe and Mail

“This is rhythmic, taut writing, at once sensual and alive with potential violence.” — Literary Review of Canada

“June Hutton has waded into a field traditionally populated by men. . . she’s not only broken new ground, she’s written an important addition to Canada’s literary canon of peace and war.” — subTerrain Magazine

“. . . impressionistic, psychologically astute.”, Portland, OR

“The opening scene of June Hutton’s Underground is electrifying; another scene could give readers nightmares” — The Vancouver Sun

“. . . from the opening, harrowing sequence . . . The story didn’t lose it’s track, and Hutton’s poetic writing never lost its appeal.” — the Whitehorse Star Daily

“. . . intuitive, discerning, and often gut-wrenching.” — Historical Novel Review

“Underground, a novel filled with the metaphors of death, burial and resurrection of the spirit, is brilliantly conceived, totally convincing and akin to the works of an early Steinbeck.” — The Owen Sound Sun Times

“As Al slowly progresses from youth to manhood, he quietly insinuates himself into my mind, making him a memorable character . . . a satisfying and enriching read.” — Event, The Douglas College Review

“Weaving together various motifs, including burial and self-discovery, with historical facts and incidents, Hutton creates a cinematic and moving portrayal of the life of her protagonist, Albert Fraser. Hutton also highlights the little known participation of the 1,700 Canadians who fought in the Spanish Civil War.” — British Columbia History, journal of the British Columbia Historical Federation

Reader responses to Underground