The Wives of Bath

Susan Swan, Author Knopf Publishing Group $21 (237p) ISBN 978-0-679-41919-8
In a touching, suspenseful, often hilarious tale, Swan ( The Last of the Golden Girls ) describes a crucial year in the lives of two Canadian girls as they begin their stormy journey towards adulthood. The year is 1963, the location the Bath Ladies College, a boarding school on the outskirts of Toronto. Fourteen-year-old Mary Beatrice (Mouse) Bradford and her roommate Pauline (Paulie) Sykes inhabit a netherworld on the shady borders between reality and imagination. Neither makes any attempt conform to the ``normal'' life around them. Polio has left Mouse with a hump, which she names Alice (after her dead mother) and imbues with a wisecracking personality. Mouse also writes letters to John F. Kennedy, whom she thinks of as a surrogate father. Rebellious Paulie rejects her female identity and guides Mouse into an erotic cult that worships King Kong. Their experiments with self-discovery spin out of control; the powerful stirrings of adolescent sexuality and the pain of love denied lead to psychosis and a murder that only Mouse can understand. Swan describes their teenage hijinks with Chaucerian bawdiness, yet she also thoughtfully chronicles the bewilderment of young, sensitive women struggling to understand their sexual roles in a hostile environment. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 08/02/1993
Release date: 08/01/1993
Genre: Fiction
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