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The Wives Of Bath

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3.42 of 5 stars 3.42  ·  rating details  ·  383 ratings  ·  34 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.

This fall Susan Swan’s gothic tale of sexual longing and repression at a boarding school for proper young ladies comes to the big screen in a cri
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Paperback, 256 pages
Published July 9th 2001 by Vintage Canada (first published 1993)
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(showing 1-30 of 1,195)
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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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Angie
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.
Elizabeth
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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Jenna
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
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
Heather
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
Anne
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
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
Kellie
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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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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Tanya
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
Lachlan
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
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
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
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
Karen
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.)
Laura
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.
Millie
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.
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.
Shahna
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.
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.
Trish
Full disclosure: I love boarding school novels. But this one is really special. Unusual, sharply funny, violent and sometimes a bit scary. A fantastic main character and incredibly engaging narrative voice. Recommended!
Erica
I picked up this book because I am absolutely in love with the movie Lost and Delirious, which is based on this book. The book is so different from the movie... they're both creepy, but this book just blew me away.
V.B.
Morbid and intriguing book that explores gender roles and the part society plays in defining who we are. This is a disturbing read for many reasons, but also amusing in its wry narrative voice.
Piotr
Somehow I am not a big fan of this kind of books and this one did not change my mind. The plot is dull and I was really happy that I did not burn every single page after reading this crap.
Janice
Controversial and edgy. Loved the characters, well especially Paulie who's a role model for all zealous feminists out there... I really really really enjoyed!
Melinda Tate
This book was the basis for a movie. I loved the movie, this book was looooosssseeelllyyyyy based on the novel. Don't waste your time.
Tracey
Aug 14, 2011 Tracey marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
loved the movie...heard the book was completely different so now i'm intrigued on how different it is
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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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