An Evening With Canadian Author Susan Swan

Swan Switches Focus to Heroism

By Joe Belanger 

The following is an excerpt from the article in  The London Free Press.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Susan Swan has explored a lot of issues during her long career as an author.

And in her newest book, The Western Light, a sequel to her best-selling Wives of Bath, Swan challenges readers to think about what makes a hero.

She’ll be talking about her new book and the topic of father-daughter relationships in literature at London’s Brescia University College Tuesday.

That unique relationship is a theme in her new book, but it’s not the overriding focus, said Swan.

“I was trying to explore the idea of a hero — who is a hero, a hero with raw courage? What is moral courage?,” Swan said.

“I think it’s a very complicated question and I really want readers to think about it.”

Swan’s other books include The Biggest Modern Woman in the World (1983), The Last of the Golden Girls (1989), Stupid Boys Are Good To Relax With (1996) and the best-seller What Casanova Told Me (2004).

In The Western Light, the narrator is again Mary “Mouse” Bradford from The Wives of Bath, who lives in a small town, Madoc’s Landing, on the shores of Georgian Bay in the 1950s, not unlike Swan’s own upbringing in Midland.

Mary’s father, like Swan’s, is a doctor and the 12-year-old competes for his attention with his duties in the community and the local mental hospital, not unlike Swan’s father — who worked long hours, including house calls and emergencies at night.

Mary fails to get her father’s attention and seeks a substitute, who turns out to be a former NHL player sent to the local psychiatric hospital after murdering his wife and child, a character created from men she knew as a child in Midland.

Interestingly, the character, John Pilkey, had suffered concussions and, while the book is not about hockey or concussions, the issue is presented in the context of the day when little was known about those injuries.

For the full article please visit:

 To find out more about the event at Bresica University College visit their website at:

Tuesday 25 September 2012, 7:30 pm, Brescia Auditorium
By Donation, Free Parking

Susan Swan explores the father-daughter “shadow” relationship in literature and reads from her new novel, The Western Light, in which a girl, Mary “Mouse” Bradford, is torn between love for her strong but absent father and a charismatic asylum inmate. In her talk, Swan discusses the shadowy nature of fathers who are background figures for most daughters while behind the father stands Western culture’s powerful archetype of the father as ruler, protector and family provider.


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