February 20, 2012

Book Review: A Company of Swans by Eva Ibbotson

Company of Swans
At First Sight: Harriet Morton has been an obedient girl, living under the thumb of her Aunt Louisa and her father, a strict Oxford professor. Her only escape has always been the ballet class she has taken since she was a girl; and, at 19, she's finally ready to go against her family and have some adventure.

The opportunity arrives when a Russian ballet master comes to her ballet class, looking for girls to fill the company he's taking to tour the Amazon. After being chosen to go, Harriet narrowly escapes home and goes to South America. There, he's surrounded by whole new world, makes friends, has fun.

And she meets Rom Verney, a wealthy British exile who takes an interest in her, as they both fall in love with each other.What they don't know is that many things are conspiring against them, like Harriet's family and would be fiance who are determined to take her back to England, and Rom's recently widowed sister-in-law, who is not ready to stop being mistress of Stavely, the ancestral home that has been in Rom's family for generations.

Second Glance: I have a bit of a strange relationship with A Company of Swans. On one hand I really like it, on the other I think it's kind of saccharine and, if I were to really think about it, it requires a lot of suspension of belief and you do have to buy into an extraordinary number of coincidences.

That being said, I really like Harriet and Rom, and I generally enjoy reading their story, it's quite easy for me to get lost in it and just go with it. It's only when I really think about it that the problems begin.

Plus, there is this section toward the middle-end where I feel it was all a bit too much, and again, you have to buy into a lot of coincidences, and Big Misunderstanding plot twist aren't always my cup of tea.

Bottom Line: A Company of Swans is a sweet book, and if you can get into it, you're in for a nice ride. If not, you'll probably snort your way through it. But it has some lovely writing and likable, if a bit naive, characters.

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