In The Wives of Bath, Susan Swan penetrates the world of a girls' boarding school and tells a story - at once shocking and wickedly funny - that encompasses rebellion and murder, and stunningly evokes the pain, confusion, and humour of female adolescence and sexual coming-of-age.
It is 1963. Mary Bradford (a.k.a. Mouse) is thirteen when she is shipped off to Bath Ladies College. Mouse, motherless, a hunchback, enters the school feeling very much on its margins, determined never to fit in with the "normal" girls, never to succumb to the expectations of the elder role models: the spinster teachers, the elegant mothers of her schoolmates. She chooses her allies carefully: her hump, whom she calls Alice, and john F. Kennedy, to whom she writes long letters asking and giving advice.
But the school itself is stranger than Mouse ever could have imagined. A secret underworld of tunnels beneath the buildings, stolen love letters, King Kong worship, and ghostlike apparitions - a world where young girls sometimes refuse to be simply "good little girls" - all lead Mouse into experiences, both terrifying and exciting, of an alternate reality for her sex. What begins as experimentation spins out of control, ending in a death that only Mouse can fully comprehend.
Susan Swan has created in Mouse Bradford - wise, witty and vulnerable - an unforgettable heroine. The Wives of Bath is a novel that both moves the heart an astonishes the imagination.
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Susan Swan is a professor of humanities at York University in Toronto. Her previous novels include The Biggest Modern Woman in the World (which was shortlisted for the Governor General's Award), The Last of the Golden Girls, and Unfit for Paradise.From Kirkus Reviews:
From the Canadian author of The Last of the Golden Girls (1991): a fantasia on the theme of gender (especially the adolescent variety), set to the tune of a macabre tale about a young girl with a severe case of penis envy. The whole megillah takes place at Bath Ladies College, a boarding school near Toronto, where one Mary Beatrice Bradford is dumped by her unloving doctor father, Morley, and her gin-swizzling stepmother, Sal. Nicknamed ``Mouse'' for her shyness, girl is a very smart 14-year-old hunchback (``I don't look like Quasimodo, but when children notice me coming, that's who they see''). Meanwhile, the school is ruled by a frumpy but good-hearted lesbian named Miss Vera Vaughan (called ``The Virgin'' by the girls), who has a dwarf named Sergeant and a lover in-house--the ``torpedo- breasted'' English teacher, Miss Peddie. A strange crew--but harmless. Actually, though, it's Mouse's fellow students who are round the bend--most especially Pauline Sykes, a charity case who rooms with Mouse and who spends most of her time dressed like a boy. Indeed, Paulie has a mind to turn Mouse male, too, putting her through a series of tests, including killing a pigeon and feeling up a girl--while cross-dressed, of course. But in the end Paulie goes much too far--leaving Mouse behind to contemplate what is so compelling about a penis. A wild reach for the territory of Fay Weldon and Elizabeth Jolley that goes way off the mark. Unpurposeful and silly. -- Copyright ©1993, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
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Descrizione libro Vintage, 2001. Paperback. Condizione libro: Brand New. 256 pages. 8.50x5.50x0.75 inches. In Stock. Codice libro della libreria zk0676974546
Descrizione libro Knopf Canada, 2001. Paperback. Condizione libro: New. Codice libro della libreria P110676974546