Saturday, February 27, 2010
***Well, I've had a good long break...let's see if I can get back to it!***
Jane Maxwell was always a wild child. Growing up in Edinburgh, the daughter of impoverished aristocrats, she led her sisters and her best friend Thomas Fraser in adventure after adventure, each more outrageous than the last. At the age of eleven she lost part of a finger after riding a pig through the town, earning her mother's anger and displeasure for damaging her most valuable child. Jane was the one beautiful daughter her mother possessed and she was determined to shore up the family's failing finances by marrying Jane off to a wealthy man.
Unfortunately, Thomas was Jane's choice. And Thomas' parents had lost their land and their lives in the Highland clearances. His only hope of getting any of their ancestral lands back was to join the army and sail for America to fight for England in the Revolution. Jane begged him to consider eloping before he left, both her mother and Thomas' guardian were against them. Though they promise themselves to each other, they do not marry before Thomas leaves.
When word comes that Thomas has been killed by Indians, she is completely devastated. For months she is unable to function at all. Eventually, though, she finds a little bit of comfort in her friendship with Alexander, who happens to be the Duke of Gordon. He seems to understand Jane's pain, he recently lost his beloved mistress in childbirth. The more she gets to know Alex, the more comfortable she is with him. Soon it is apparent that Alex wants to marry her and Jane is unable to resist her mother's constant pressure to accept his proposal.
Of course, Thomas isn't dead at all. His return will tear Jane apart and shape the rest of her life. As she attempts to live with the jealous man that she married, bearing children and outwardly fulfilling her role as Duchess, she throws herself into the tumult of politics and social issues. She advises King George and becomes a patroness of Robert Burns. She assuages the pain in her heart by cultivating her brain, earning a position in eighteenth century Europe that few women achieved.
Island of the Swans is a fantastic historical novel, rich with the lush scenery of Scotland, the glitter of London and lively, interesting characters. The whole reason that I love this genre is the opportunity to learn about historical figures that you might never know about otherwise, like Jane Maxwell, the fourth Duchess of Gordon. I really enjoyed it and look forward to reading more books by Ciji Ware.
Island of the Swans is published by Sourcebooks, ISBN 978-1-4022-2268-9. My review copy was provided by Sourcebooks.
Thank you to Beth at Beth Fish Reads and to The Blogger Guide for helping me to customize my template and to Andrea at The Little Bookworm for improving my header!!
- The Tome Traveller
- New Hampshire, United States
- Bibliophile, Anglophile, Traveller... I have been an avid reader all of my life, since I took the Dr. Seuss Dictionary away from my Mom when I was less than a year old because I wanted to read it myself. In college, where I earned my degree in English Literature, I was often asked "What are you going to do with it?" Now I finally have the answer to that question!!! Being employed as a Flight Attendant for twenty years has given me a lot of life experience and, better still, a lot of time to read. I love to travel for fun, too.