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The Wives Of Bath

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3.44  ·  Rating Details ·  478 Ratings  ·  46 Reviews
With a new introduction by the author about the process of the novel becoming a film.

Now a film – Lost and Delirious – based on the bestselling novel, directed by Lea Pool and starring Piper Perabo, Jessica Paré, and Mischa Barton.

Renowned film critic Roger Ebert called it “one of the most carefully crafted, most professional films...at this year’s Sundance Film Festival.
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Published (first published 1993)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Polly James
This is one of the oddest books I have ever read, and I disliked some parts of it as much as I liked others.

I haven't seen the film adaptation, but I usually prefer not to see the film version of a book until I have read the book itself, so that my own interpretation precedes the director's.

However, in the case of this novel, I needed all the help I could get, as I have no idea whether I simply failed to understand the author's primary concept, or whether it was as muddled as it appeared to be
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Meredith Watkins
Apr 15, 2015 Meredith Watkins rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Parts I loved, parts hard to read. I also love this movie, even though I personally found them very different from each other. But as with most, the book is better. It's all about the power of the imagination, and I'll ALWAYS love that :-)
Bill
Apr 30, 2016 Bill rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, canlit
I'm not sure exactly what to say about this book, except how much I enjoyed reading it. Susan Swan is a new author for me. I decided to try and find this book based on a recommendation in a book about Canadian Literature. I wasn't sure what to expect when I picked it up; the various comments varied from 'A haunting new novel...' to 'Extremely funny... a thoroughly modern tale of shifting sexualities...'... So with that information, I started The Wives Of Bath. I don't want to spoiler the book as ...more
Amber
Aug 21, 2015 Amber rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5/5

This was weird, and I really liked the writing. But as unique and enjoyable as the writing was, I felt very removed reading it, despite how poetic it was. So I got into it, but I didn't REALLY get into it, and I was disappointed.

My favourite parts were the court case chapters. And for such a short book (237 pages) it had 53 chapters. So I liked that, because books with chapters that are too long? Not a fan.

I was also led to believe this would be very LGBTQ full of lesbian love affairs, but
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Pamela
Aug 26, 2015 Pamela rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
(view spoiler) ...more
Jenna
Mar 26, 2011 Jenna rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, awesome
This is a book that I waited way too long to track down and read. I enjoyed the 2001 film "Lost and Delirious," which was the only way I would have ever even heard of this book. Since it's out of print, I filed it somewhere in the back of my mind to search for eventually. When I recently fell in love with Chaucer's "The Canterbury Tales," especially that hilarious wife of Bath, I instantly remembered this book and decided it was time to buy an overpriced used copy online. This book indeed draws ...more
Heather
Mar 17, 2012 Heather rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Having seen (and liked) the movie Lost and Delirious a few years back, I thought undoubtedly the source novel would help flesh out the characters. The movie itself deals with common LGBT themes such as societal norms and keeping up appearances both of which are painfully real and easily relatable. So when I heard that The Wives of Bath would breach more of the gender identity topics I was immediately thrilled at the prospect of reading about a character/characters (view spoiler) ...more
Megan
The main problem that I found with this book was that I couldn't find enough time to read it. I actually missed my stop while reading it on the bus and actually considered staying on the route until the bus turned around and came back the other way - that's how much I enjoyed this book. I had seen the movie, Lost and Delirious, that was based on this book some time ago and was not particularly overwhelmed by the movie. It was good, but it didn't really make much of an impression on me. I picked ...more
Surreysmum
May 09, 2016 Surreysmum rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really thought this was something quite special, and quite unexpected. My hopes were limited when I saw that it was "one of the most powerful depictions of adolescent female sexuality..." But that's not what's here. This is about gender dysphoria within the restricted and restrictive setting of a girls' school (Bath Ladies' College) in the 1960s. (It was written in the 1990s). The narrator, "Mouse", is not the one with the dysphoria- that's her friend, Paulie, whose masculine incarnation is ca ...more
Elizabeth
Apr 10, 2014 Elizabeth rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lgbtq
I honestly don't know what I expected.

I knew this was the basis for the film Lost and Delirious, so I had a general idea of what this book would be about going in.

But ...

Right away, I could tell this was inspired by the Parker-Hulme case (very loosely inspired, but undoubtedly inspired nonetheless). So I knew then that this book wasn't quite going to be what I expected.

And then it got worse weird.

I realize this book is over twenty years old at this point, so it's certainly dated in some ways. A
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Anne
Jul 30, 2013 Anne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ya
Contrary to the title, this is a quintessential boarding school story as presented by the most appealing of narrators, Mary Beatrice "Mouse" Bradford. Mouse is thirteen and consigned to boarding school because of unresolved issues at home - a distant father (Morley) and a less than honest stepmother (Sal). When Mouse arrives in this new environment she is confronted in spades with the stereotypical expectations of the traditional British style single sex boarding school. Yet, there are a few une ...more
Kelly
Nov 05, 2009 Kelly rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gender-sexuality
The greatest strength of Swan's book is her richly complex characters. Through the experiences and honest narration of our protagonist, Mary Beatrice Bradford (aka Mouse), we journey through a year in the life of boarders at Bath Ladies College, a Canadian boarding school for young women in the early 1960s. Grounded in the social and historical contexts of the times, the tale pushes readers to critically examine the social construction of gender -- particularly issues of gender identity and gend ...more
Angie
Oct 14, 2014 Angie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the story of 13-year-old Mary who calls herself Mouse.It is 1963 and she has been sent to a boarding school for girls in Toronto by her workaholic doctor father and her stepmother. Mouse is very smart but she is self-conscious because of the hump on her shoulder (who she names Alice) after a bout with polio. She makes friends with a strange girl who likes to dress up as a boy. We know from the beginning of the story that some sort of crime will take place and the story leads up to this e ...more
Anna Pearce
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Kaiser Dias
Comprei este livro porque tinha visto o filme (Lost and Delirious) inspirado nele e tinha gostado muito.
A história do livro é bastante diferente, embora ainda preserve as personagens principais e uma parte do enredo. Mas enquanto o filme é sobre homossexualidade feminina, o livro trata mais sobre questões de gênero e da dominação das mulheres na sociedade patriarcal que predominava na década de 1960.
Ainda que os motivos da transexualidade de uma das personagens possam ser pertinentes, vale aler
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Warhammer Grantham

Mouse Bradford, a mousy young girl of 10 is shipped off to a all-girls boarding school in western Canada in the late 60's. There she meets Paulie, her imaginative, refuses to play by the rules dorm roommate. Paulie has her own ideas of how to have fun, under the nose of authority, and her strong personality makes it difficult for Mouse to resist her influence. Paulie and Mouse's shenanigans escalate until one day Paulie crosses a terrible line.
The book has lots of short chapters, and it's told
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Kellie
Nov 02, 2009 Kellie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
I was turned on to this book because one of my favorite movies of all time, Lost and Delirious, is loosely adapted from it.

First and foremost, the book is about gender roles and how each of the girls deal with becoming a woman in a society that pushes them to the side, and takes away opportunities from them. It also loosely deals with transgender issues and how such things were viewed in the 50's, although that portion is subjugated to the issues of the "lesser" female role.

I was very impress
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Tanya
May 24, 2009 Tanya rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: currently-own
I'm not really sure about this book. I wasn't even sure of whether to give it a two or three star rating lol... For those of you who have not yet read this book and may be thinking of it because of it being the inspiration for the movie "Lost and Delirious," be forewarned that this book is VERY different from the movie. I think this book, probably like my review of it, was confusing all around. Although I did like getting to know the main character, the book is so dark and disturbing, and in all ...more
Amy
I liked how the tension built towards the end; I couldn't wait to find out what happened next. Near the beginning, this just translated to being annoyed that it wasn't getting to the interesting stuff faster, unfortunately. Mouse is a very detailed character, very identifiable, aware of her own flaws. Paulie, on the other hand, pretty much just downward-spiralled with no particular enlightenment. Being that the book is only ~240 pages, which covers a good deal of plot and Mouse's character, it i ...more
Julie Aquilina
Apr 21, 2013 Julie Aquilina rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ridgeway-reads
I don't think I've met a more lively first-person narrator than Mary "Mouse" Bradford and her sidekick Alice (Mary's pet name for the hump that is on her left shoulder - an effect of surviving polio). This book has so many quirks, it really kept me intrigued. 1963. JFK. Kong. Cross-dressing. Giant tricycles. This book is always a surprise. And, under all this is clearly a discussion about identity and acceptance that haunts you long after reading it. Now onto Western Light where I'll be reunited ...more
Hulk
Oct 27, 2013 Hulk rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Incredibly insulting to men, the author seems to believe that all men literally worship their scrotum. As I was forced to read this disgusting waste of Mother Nature during school, in a class where I was one of three males in a 30 student class, I felt embarrassed and depressed to even take on the identity of a male. Besides the sexist and underserved misandry, half the book is pointless, symbolism-less filler, making an already small book into a short story. Not to mention killing off the only ...more
Sally
Mar 04, 2011 Sally rated it liked it
Well, certainly not as gay and awesome as I was hoping! Of course there were the two teachers - rumours which proved to be true, and then Tory/Paulie... but yeah, just not enough. I was expecting more, and it's set in a boarding school too! But it was still good, and quietly gripping - the whole mystery of who Paulie had murdered, and why was engrossing, and the writing was very easy to quickly read through. (view spoiler) Maybe ...more
Karen
Jul 16, 2010 Karen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An unusual book, which I picked up after stumbling upon the film adaptation, Lost & Delirious. The two are very different--the film emphasizes sexual identity and the book gender identity, but both are extremely well done, both thoughtful and thought-provoking. (An although this is a book review and not a movie review, I'd also like to note that the film stars two actresses with whom I've never been particularly impressed, Piper Perabo and Mischa Barton, who give wonderful performances.)
Asghar Abbas
Mar 19, 2015 Asghar Abbas rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Lost and delirious indeed !

Ugh- I'm torn between this sublime work and its equally good movie. Though both of them being two very different animals - I believe this is a very important book.

Mouse charmed me.

I cannot recommend this enough, even to myself and I've already read it !

Will read it again, to be sure.
Omar Ramirez
The Movie based on this book was a lot better. This book is dull as fuck and will bore you to death.

Bought it quite a few years ago and didn't couldn't manage to read it without getting bored and abandoning it every time. Might one day finish it, I don't expect to change my opinion in the few pages I have left to read, really.
Millie
Aug 31, 2009 Millie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great glimpse into boarding school for girls in the 50s. I really liked the personal expressions like... "from the bottom of my Mouse heart." Very cute. And the dreams this girl has are so similar to my own.
The movie is very different, but then again it is an adaptation, it's an exploration that the author didn't choose to do but that was equally possible.
Helena
Jan 18, 2016 Helena rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2016
I really had no idea what to expect from this book from the summary, and I had never heard of it until it was recommended to me. It was definitely very different, and I am glad I read it. I wish I had more to say about this one but alas I simply do not. It was interesting, and now that I have finished it, my only comment is something along the lines of, "well, okay then."
Shahna
Mar 15, 2013 Shahna rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own
I really liked this book. I was glad I was forced to read it in University.
It was good. It has topics in it that most people never want to think about let alone openly read about. It was perfect.
I was also pretty heartbroken when JFK died. I got so attached to the characters and the time period it was written in.
Polo Lonergan
Dec 19, 2010 Polo Lonergan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010, lgbt
I couldn't stand the film based on this book, but the book charmed me. Mouse is a great character, complex and interesting - as are all the characters, even the minor ones. The exploration of gender identity and sexuality in women and girls was right up my street and I think it covered many angles very well, while still being an interesting and gripping story.
Jack
It explores gender roles, gender, gender expression, gender identity, and sexual orientation in novel form. Favorite by far. If the lesbian aspect wasn't involved, it would definitely be read in more English, classes. Best mother fucking book out there.
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Journalist, feminist, novelist, activist, teacher, Susan Swan’s impact on the Canadian literary and political scene has been far-reaching. Susan Swan’s critically acclaimed fiction has been published in twenty countries. Her new novel, The Western Light, shares a heroine with her international bestseller, The Wives of Bath (published September 2012).

Swan’s last novel, What Casanova Told Me, was p
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