Swamp Angel

Swamp Angel Swamp Angel Ethel Wilson s finest novel is a bravely deceptive book It seems to be a very straightforward story about a once widowed young woman named Maggie Lloyd who walks out on her cretinous se

  • Title: Swamp Angel
  • Author: Ethel Wilson
  • ISBN: 9780771091292
  • Page: 159
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Swamp Angel, Ethel Wilson s finest novel, is a bravely deceptive book It seems to be a very straightforward story about a once widowed young woman named Maggie Lloyd, who walks out on her cretinous second husband and their Vancouver home to begin a new life as a cook at a fishing camp in the interior of British Columbia Meanwhile, back in Vancouver, Maggie s friend NellSwamp Angel, Ethel Wilson s finest novel, is a bravely deceptive book It seems to be a very straightforward story about a once widowed young woman named Maggie Lloyd, who walks out on her cretinous second husband and their Vancouver home to begin a new life as a cook at a fishing camp in the interior of British Columbia Meanwhile, back in Vancouver, Maggie s friend Nell Severance, a retired juggler, attempts to cast off her memories of her life with her own deceased husband, thereby allowing her to let her daughter find a way into a happily married life A plot summary, however, cannot do Swamp Angel justice, for this is a subtle and complicated novel Wilson writes in a style that is half Victorian and half modern Her narrator is apt to address the reader in order to make moral pronouncements on the characters, but the story gains its intensity through a meticulously developed system of symbols that anticipates the techniques that Sheila Watson would use in her Canadian modernist classic, The Double Hook The Swamp Angel of the title is a revolver, the only one left to Nell Severance from her juggling days The gun assumes totemic importance as its utility as an instrument of death is displaced by the private significances that Wilson s characters give it Swamp Angel is, on one level, a novel about Christian morality, but Wilson is too sophisticated to ever feel preachy This is a book that is immediately enjoyable, but it demands and rewards rereading Jack Illingworth

    One thought on “Swamp Angel”

    1. The night his wife Maggie up and left him, a man marches a few doors down to confront an old lady and her daughter, their neighbors in New Westminster, British Columbia. They are her friends: they must know where she went, why she left. He is stunned, irate, and talking wounded macho hooey. While he rants, the old woman suddenly begins to twirl and juggle a wee little pearl-handled revolver, named the Swamp Angel, in the air. Again and again and again. This most un-Canadian, most unwomanly of ge [...]

    2. This story was absolutely fascinating, right to the last page, but as I finished it, I still wondered what it was really about. The mystery about the Swamp Angel was never revealed. One could not be certain whether Vera would be alright. I even continued to wonder how well Maggie Lloyd understood herself and her own life (but I suppose that in itself is realistic - how many of us do understand ourselves and our lives?). I am tempted to re-read in the hope that I might catch some critical clues m [...]

    3. Swamp Angel is usually spoken of as Ethel Wilson's best work. Not having yet read "Love and Salt Water" or Wilson's stories, I can't say for sure if I agree, but it definitely tops her previous work. It has a quality of linear movement, and the tension that sustains that movement, which was completely missing from her earlier work. However, it keeps parts of the kind of tableau-style narration that I loved so much in "Tuesday and Wednesday". It's not flawless, and there are parts that are dull, [...]

    4. Something in this book really worked for me. I saw it on a display at the Library, and the word "Swamp" enticed me, then I saw it was set in Vancouver/BC and the author was born in South Africa. The tone and gentle pacing worked for me, and the author's obvious love for the land of BC. And the interactions between people, hopelessly stuck in their own behaviour patterns, but trying to be better. I don't know. I'm not explaining it well. A cetain decency conveyed, but even it cannot solve all con [...]

    5. Written in 1950s. A woman plans and then carries out her plan to leave her husband. Her 2nd husband, whom she married out confusion and grief. Her first was killed in the war, and her little daughter also died. She took on as her second husband a cocky brash man, a selfish man, mistaking his confident extroversion for assured comptetence. He turns out to be a self centred little mean-spirited and spiteful man. And so the book opens with Maggie carrying out her domestic chores for the final time, [...]

    6. I read this book some years ago and I have just finished rereading it. I think this is a wonderful novel. It has a deceptively simple plot, but needs careful attention to detail to reveal Wilson's astute observations on human relationships. I have lived in Kamloops for the past almost twenty years and Wilson's descriptions of the lakes and land in the area are great!

    7. "A first meeting. A meeting in the desert, a meeting at sea, meeting in the city, meeting at night, meeting at a grave, meeting in the sunshine beside the forest, beside water. Human being meet, yet the meetings are not the same. Meeting partakes in its very essence not only of the persons but of the place of meeting. And that essence of place remains, and colors, faintly, the association, perhaps forever."A fine novel. I'm ashamed that I had never heard of Ethel Wilson until someone sent me thi [...]

    8. I am so glad that Canada Reads inspired me to reread this book after a few decades. I loved this book. Wilson's description of the BC interior, and her sense of what it means to be a flyfisher are spot on, beautiful and obviously written by someone who knows both very well. In the afterword George Bowering says this book is simple & complex, like flyfishing; the idea is simple the method is complex.

    9. Beautifully constructed, intricate and real in it's characterizations. Not a book for those who like straight ahead story with predictable ends. This book was written by a woman who had lived most of her life and had a keen eye for observation. Her setting is dead-on!

    10. (view spoiler)[And so it ENDS with the gun (the title), and Maggie has grown and learned and breathed and healed. Ahhh. Spectacular ending."The Swamp Angel in its eighty years or so had caused death and astonishment and jealousy and affection and one night it frightened Edward Vardoe on Maggie's behalf, although Maggie does not know that, and soon it will be gone. It will be a memory, and then not even a memory, for there will be no on to remember it. Yet does the essence of all custom and virtu [...]

    11. There wasn't much to like or dislike in this novel. Although given the impression that Wilson was trying to convey the message that love and marriage are never as perfect or clean-cut as one thinks, she failed to give even one example of a marriage that wasn't controlled by abuse, neglect, or general negative emotions. While she tried to convince me that Maggie's second husband, Edward Vardoe, was a terrible human being--and he did grow to be a little more despicable by the end--I couldn't help [...]

    12. A pregnant peep into the heart of British Columbian ethos, truly embodying that "last frontier" quality that its geography so demands. Sometimes it felt like I was being dipped into an Emily Carr painting with Ethel Wilson's Swamp Angel, and sometimes into an E. Pauline Johnson poem. Either way, a powerful push into a new, unfamiliar world that, once immersed in it, isn't really that new or unfamiliar at all.Read on recommendation of CBC Books' 100 novels that make you proud to be Canadian.

    13. This is one of my favorite books ever, and I have read it, and taught it, several times. I think it appeals to me because it has several contradictory qualities (yes, that's the kind of person I am); poetry and drama, fascination with nature as well as practical knowledge of many kinds. The mystery that surrounds the story from the beginning and which is never quite revealed – why is Maggie running away from her husband, and why is it so important for her to keep it secret? – makes it possib [...]

    14. I picked up this book as part of some research I was doing about Canada in the 1950's. Although reading it did not provide me with the information I was searching for, the story had me intrigued and the writing style had me flipping pages. I was not fully expecting such a look at a feminine heroine in that era in Canada, but I am super glad that I read it. Swamp Angel is a short and little book, but there is this feeling that something much more meaty is being revealed while reading it.

    15. A book about ideas and human relationships, and probably a number of other things to. I am so impressed by Canadian writing. I was happy to read about the highly featured elements of the British Columbia landscape (including Vancouver City) that were familiar to me. Wilson offers deep and complicated insight into the way we meet people, make friends, and find home.

    16. There were moments in this novel when I would be captured by lovely prose and I would feel hope that I was about to be rewarded by a deeper connection to the story. Hope kept me reading but I never made the connection I was looking for.

    17. Read for a class on British Columbian lit.Not particularly fond of this novel, I'll admit. There are certain things about it that I do like, such as the awesomeness of our protagonist, Maggie, who decides she's had enough of her abusive second husband and splits on up to the BC interior; a decidedly heroic and brave thing to do in the 1950s for a woman. I liked that the other characters got their little backstories before they were even introduced into the timeline of Maggie's narrative. I also [...]

    18. This Canadian novel is getting a little aged for the typical reader – 1954 – but it’s themes of establishing self-identity, esteem and strong friendships are still relevant today. This is one of those rare books that won’t exactly win you over when you read its description on the back, but its straight-forward language and inviting first scenes of a woman leaving her husband will keep you reading. I’m not typically a fan of reading long scenes that describe the Canadian landscape but t [...]

    19. Every time something started to happen fizzled out and left the reader hanging. The "Swamp Angel" title was based on an object which appeared to be irrelevant to everything that didn't happen. The actually 'writing' itself drove me crazy. A lot of sentences/thoughts appeared to come out of nowhere . thoughts were left hanging and/or incomplete and also often off topic to what was currently happening. Perhaps it wasn't meant to be a story that has a beginning and end was just a series of rambling [...]

    20. This book is a gem. I was interested in it at first because of the setting in British Columbia, but I was quickly drawn in by the plot's early suspense surrounding Maggie's escape from her boorish husband. It's true that there isn't much excitement after that part, but the descriptions of the rivers, forests and lakes of the interior were so compelling, and, overall, I found Maggie to be a really sympathetic character, with her steady determination to "swim past obstacles." I didn't really under [...]

    21. Liked this book about women trying to get on and get along. The characters were quite rich and descriptions of both city and back country were great. I kept expecting the Swamp Angel to fulfill its role as Checkov's gun (view spoiler)[the surprise was, that didn't happen. I just read too many and watch too many mystery/suspense tales. So no, Vera didn't shoot herself or Maggie, Haldar didn't shoot Vera, Ed Vardoe didn't discover where Maggie was and come to try and kill her and no one ended up d [...]

    22. I look forward to hearing this novel discussed on Canada Reads as I feel that I did not take away everything there was to digest and contemplate. I initially thought I was really going to enjoy the story of Maggie who felt compelled to leave her husband on silent feet. As the pages went on, however, it felt like there were too many side stories bound up with Maggie's.Maggie ends up in a little fishing camp near Kamloops vigorously protecting her history and her solitude only to have it interrupt [...]

    23. This book was written in 1954, and I was partway through it before I realized that I had read it before, I think many years ago (before I had as much life experience as I do now) but the point is that it is memorable writing, and even if you forget some of the details of the plot or the storyline, you won't forget the images created in your mind. The bare bones of the story is that it is about a woman who leaves a husband to go and work at a fishing resort in British Columbia. And swamp angel is [...]

    24. What a skillful and entertaining writer! I haven't read anything else by Ethel Wilson yet, but one day I will re-read "Swamp Angel". It's not too distracting, but sometimes I noticed I was reading words and words and words, then come to the full stop and realize I had read a beautifully composed sentence. And her insight! I thought perhaps I have been disguising my own bad behaviourybe people don't notice. But Ethel Wilson notices. I found "Swamp Angel" a short and very satisfying read.

    25. This is a beautiful piece of Canadian literature. I read some of Wilson's stories back in University in the early 80s, but missed this elegant novel. She evokes a sense of place so powerfully. (Vancouver, the road to Kamloops BC, then on further out to a fishing lodge on a small isolated lake outside Kamloops. Her characters are captivating and the action compelling. A hint of existentialism as a bonus.Further bonus will be discussing the novel with Tom and Dan.

    26. Read this for my Literature of BC course. I enjoyed reading about how the Lower Mainland and Interior were back in the old days but as for the story. really happens. All the exciting action happens at the beginning of the story. Maggie is strong, brave and stubbornd yet chooses to stay in a place where she is being bullied by a stupid, weak, indecisive woman. Makes me mad for her.

    27. The plot line about a woman who escapes an abusive marriage to work in a lake resort in the mountains of the Thompson River country near Kamloops, British Columbia is not all that compelling, but there are passages of startling psychological insight and some complex character developments which I liked. I also appreciated her ability to conjure forth the look and feel of both the sagebrush country of interior BC as well as the sub-alpine woods. A good read.

    28. This is a beautifully written little book with amazing descriptions of British Columbia. However, I did find some of the descriptions lengthy and some parts of the story slow. Also, I am not sure about the symbolism of the "swamp angel". The book deserves four or five stars for the writing but for enjoyment of reading, I am giving it three stars.

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