Books·Canadian

The Wives of Bath

Susan Swan's coming-of-age novel follows the story of a friendship and a murder in a girls’ boarding school in 1963.

Susan Swan

A coming-of-age story with Gothic overtones, The Wives of Bath is the story of two teenagers attending Bath Ladies College near Toronto in 1963. Pauline ("Paulie") is a rebellious outsider, while Mary Beatrice ("Mouse") is painfully shy, in part because she has a hump — which she names "Alice" and confides in. Paulie and Mouse become friends, and their curiosity about love, sexuality and the opposite sex leads them into complicated, painful situations. When a grisly murder occurs at the boarding school, the two girls are implicated.

The Wives of Bath was a finalist for the U.K.'s Guardian Fiction Prize and Ontario's Trillium Award.

Read an excerptAuthor interviews | More about this book

From the book

My name is Mouse — Mouse Bradford. Mary Beatrice Bradford, if you want to be long-winded about it. I'm sixteen now, the same age Paulie was when she performed her weird, Napoleonic act of self-assertion. It was my father's scalpel she used, not the X-Acto knife mentioned in the news — a B-P Rib Back surgical blade, one and three-quarter inches long and brand-new.


From The Wives of Bath by Susan Swan ©1994. Published by Vintage Canada.

Author interviews

Shelagh's extended conversation. 40:02

More about this book

now