Publisher: Vintage Canada
Carol Shields's award-winning and critically acclaimed "literary mystery," first published in 1987.

is the story of four individuals who become entwined in the life of Mary Swann, a rural Canadian poet whose authentic and unique voice is discovered only hours before her husband hacks her to pieces.Who is Mary Swann? And how could she have produced these works of genius in almost complete isolation? 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.



As recently as two years ago, when I was twenty-six, I dressed in ratty jeans and a sweatshirt with lettering across the chest. That’s where I was. Now I own six pairs of beautiful shoes, which I keep, when I’m not wearing them, swathed in tissue paper in their original boxes. Not one of these pairs of...
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1. Carol Shields spoke of becoming a writer because there weren’t enough books that examined women’s friendships and women’s inner lives — or, as she put it, “the kind of book I wanted to read but couldn’t find.” In what ways does Shields’s fiction bring the lives of women...

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"One of the best novels I have read… deft, funny, poignant, surprising and beautifully shaped—in total command of itself and its language." -- Margaret Atwood

"A brilliant literary mystery...a delightful send-up of the scholarly sideshow that surrounds a work of art." -- Kirkus Reviews

"...a compelling work...exquisitely crafted..." -- Globe and Mail

"Gently satirical… [Carol Shields] has a compassion for her characters that can make you ache for them." -- The New York Times

"Well-drawn characters, expert writing, and silky malice are combined in an exceptionally satisfying work of fiction" -- The Atlantic Monthly

"A spicily witty tale of literary malarkey." -- The Sunday Times (U.K.)