Saturday, February 27, 2010

Review: Island of the Swans by Ciji Ware

***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.


D Swizzle said...

I really like the cover of this one for some reason. Obviously, the contents are just as lovely. I'll keep this one on my wishlist. Thanks for the rec!

bermudaonion said...

This book sounds fantastic!

Glad to see you back on here - we've missed you!

The Tome Traveller said...

I've missed you guys too! So glad to be back!

Zibilee said...

This sounds like a wonderful book and one that is going right to the top of my list! Great in-depth review, you really hooked me with it! Glad to see you back!!

Linda said...

Nearly every HF book I've read with a setting in Scotland has been one I really enjoyed. This one sounds great.

Benita said...

I've read similar story lines. Acting too quickly after an assumed or announced death, marrying one not loved, only to find out that the love of your life is still alive. I'd love to see how the author handles the story and what the outcome is.


Amanda said...

I've seen this book reviewed all over and I've been dying to read it. I love books that are set in Scotland or Ireland. Thanks!

libraryofmyown at gmail dot com

Elise said...

After reading the review, I wish Jane would have just gotten married to Thomas before he went off to war, despite the discouragement of others. But then there wouldn't be a conflict of interest in the book. It looks like this story is either about coping and accepting the lost past and moving forward or about second chances.
caliblue7 at gmail dot com

Sheila Deeth said...

I like your taste in historical periods. You've caught my English American interest with this one.

sdeeth at msn dot com

brokenteepee said...

I have not read this one by Ms. Ware. I do love her writing style and am sure I would enjoy it.
thank you

Edgy Inspirational Author said...

Haven't heard of this one but I get quite a few books from Sourcebooks to review, too. I love Scottish historicals that are as engaging as this one sounds.

Anonymous said...

Too bad she had to be pressured by her family to marry a man I guess she really didn't love, only to find out the one she does love is still alive. It makes the story interesting, though. Sounds like a good book, now I want to find out what happens.

Thoughts from an Evil Overlord

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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.