by Carol Shields

Mysteriously, all traces of Swann's existence her notebook, the first draft of her work, even her photograph gradually vanish as the characters in this engrossing novel become caught up in their own concepts of who Mary Swann was.

  • Language: English
  • Category: Fiction
  • Rating: 3.71
  • Pages: 416
  • Publish Date: October 22nd 1996 by Vintage Canada
  • Isbn10: 0679307877
  • Isbn13: 9780679307877

What People Think about "Swann"

And in turn I also wondered if the writing of this led to Shields' The Stone Diaries a few years later. I would have to reread the latter to be sure, but I think it's safe to say Mary Swann and The Stone Diaries are certainly her two most ambitious novels.

But when you consider what Carol Shields was capable of... I thought you wanted to know about every last item in my grocery cart. It's a little weird.

Swann (sometimes titled Swann: A Mystery) is about farmwife Mary Swann and how she is "discovered" and turned into a minor poet worthy of academic analysis.

The story of Mary Swann as it comes out through 4 main Swann-ites is engaging.

Hey, if a woman like Mary Swann can write great poems, why cant people with impressive educations? Out of the various styles, I would have to say that I was a little disappointed with the film script at the end. You will start thinking about the relevance of history, but, as disheartening as that may seem, the ever-changing form, the closeness the reader feels to the characters, the mini mystery, and the satirical outlook on academics all come together to create a great book that will not disappoint. Lastly, the character of Mary Swann may make you feel a little more proud of your potentially not-so-impressive education!

It comes as quite a shock at the beginning of the fifth chapter of "Swann" to be reminded that Sarah Maloney, Morton Jimroy, Rose Hindmarch and Frederick Cuzzi area all fictional characters. In 1965, within hours of submitting her body of work, written on scraps of paper and stored in a paper bag, to literary publisher and newspaper owner, Frederick Cruzzi, Mary Swann, a "primitive" poet from rural Canada, was hacked to pieces by her violent brute of a husband. Intrigued, she set out to find out more about Swann and her poetry, and soon was in correspondence with a select little group of assorted fans and scholars, including pretentious Morton Jimroy, self-appointed biographer, spinsterly Rose Hindmarch, librarian who lent books to Swann, worldwise Frederick Cuzzi, publisher to whom Swann entrusted her work. The first four chapters, almost novellas, of this book titled "Mary Swan" in the British edition I found in my library, each tell of a central character's encounter with Swann and/or her work.

I remember when she was writing there would be a lot of news stories whenever her latest book would come out. The first portions of Swann tell the story from the point of view of the four principles. The final portion of the book takes place as a breakdown of a film...dialogue, camera angles, etc...dealing with the symposium about the poetess Mary Swann. All of this is dark and dreary enough, but added to it in the book is that the few copies of her work, along with the remaining elements of her life, are disappearing!

This is one of those books that is difficult to get through, but well worth it. The first four sections were written from four different characters views.