The Symposium: Swann

Alright…so, I have been introduced to and entered into the lives of the Nadeau librarian, Rose ; Sarah, the feminist writer; Morton, Mary Swann’s biographer; and Frederic, the retired journalist and publisher who publishes Swann’s only book.  I related with Sarah’s meticulous and thoughtful writing of letters.  I suffered for Rose whose dedication goes unnoticed and suffers so quietly on her own.  I admired Frederic’s love for his wife, Hilde, and fell in love with Hilde’s independence within the relationship.  I hurt for Morton who falls in love with illusions. I have spent so much time with these characters that they are real to me.  And now…I find myself at the symposium where all four lives will collide.  The final chapter is written in the format of a movie script.  Just last night, I was given the setting and today I’m on to the script.  Intrigued…

From what I’ve read of others, this is Carol Shield’s weak point with this novel.   I am just happy that Mary Swann’s life will be honoured to some extent because, although completely absent from this book, her poetry has created a consistent link with the four characters’ motivations.

Blood pronounces my name
Blisters the day with shame
Spends what little I own,
Robbing the hour, rubbing the bone. 

I am delighting in this book and feel consistently impressed by Carol Shields, her writing and her way of living life.  She contributed so much to our world by celebrating the common person, particularly shedding light on the every day thoughts and efforts of ordinary women.

Go for long walks,
indulge in hot baths,
question your assumptions,
be kind to yourself,
live for the moment,
loosen up,
curse the world,
count your blessings,
just let go,
just be.
Carol Shields

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