Thursday, February 4, 2010

Book Review: Island of The Swans, Ciji Ware





 

Sourcebooks Landmark Reissue, February 1, 2010
Review copy provided by Sourcebooks,Thank you!


The story of Jane Maxwell Duchess of Gordon, in the 18thc, as told by the excellent author, Ciji Ware is a masterpiece read; an epic on its own.  I hadn’t really read much about this feisty Duchess who climbed to the highest rank of nobility.  Fashionable, politically savvy, doting mom, business woman…but in this magnificent novel, she mostly wears her role as a love-torn woman whose soul could never find peace.
The story begins with Jane as a mischievous young girl, who defies her mother in more ways than one.  Against her mother’s will, her best friend, Thomas Fraser would become her secret betrothed.  Thomas’ uncle, Simon Fraser, being of the same mind as Jane’s mother, would come into a pact with the latter to make sure the two youngsters stayed apart forever.  It was Jane’s mother’s wish that her most beautiful daughter marry in the highest ranks of nobility. For Simon Fraser, the family lands needed to be fought for and salvaged back to their rightful owners of the Highlands, the Fraser family…and so…
Thomas Fraser is sent off as a Scottish soldier to fight the American war.  Although Jane begs him to stay, Thomas is excited about this adventure and promises to marry her when he gets back.  Their last evening together at a beautiful ball filled with dancing and merriment, Jane, who is angry that Thomas is leaving, decides to make him jealous.  She dances with the dashing Duke of Gordon. A brawl almost erupts between the two young men who don’t like eachother to begin with (a story starting way back when the three of them were all very young…and where Jane succumbs to a terrible accident..)
So, off goes Thomas and (I need to skip a spoiler here- and jump to)…Jane Maxwell marries the Duke of Gordon..huh?  Yeah, you need to read the story to understand what really happens here..;
This saga is tragic to say the least.  It is an emotional roller-coaster from beginning to end.  First of all, the book is no menial chunkster at 565 pages- so settle in comfy cause you’re in for bouts of hopes and delusions-a real tear jerker.  Although this novel is mainly about a mega love story, there is a lot of interesting history involving well-known historical figures, such as: Georgiana Duchess of Devonshire (Jane’s ultimate political and fashion rival), George III and his Queen (who love Jane), The Princes and many more.  I loved to read about their interactions, the civil war happening in America, the Whigs and the Torys- but yes, of course, what stole the show was Jane Maxwell’s constant search for happiness and thirst for love.
Island of The Swans is the kind of book that I can totally see being made for the Big Screen… Gone With The Wind kind of style- Absolutely.  If there is one thing though that did turn me off a little, that was the too many racy love scenes.  I could have done with fewer of those (they seemed to be interjected in there constantly).  And although I do understand the author’s reasoning behind a few of these,  some of the details, I personally found a bit too graphic for my liking. 
But other than that, this was a phenomenal read!
For Giveaways of Island of The Swans and Author Guest Posts go to:
And

I'm also entering this one in the 4 Month Challenge under novel based on Civil War.


17 comments:

Muse in the Fog said...

Another great review Lucy! I have just started this book, and am so excited after hearing so many wonderful things about it. Thanks :)

Heather Carroll said...

I am still waiting for a modern biography to come out about Jane, she was such an interesting person! Hopefully this nice long, novel will set the ball rolling, she was such an interesting person.

Marie Burton said...

Loved the review! I normally get turned off by excessive love scenes but I don't recall that happening with my experience of reading it. I can't wait to get her next books that are being reissued. I've already bought two of the original issues. I love Ciji's writing in this one, I hope the others are the same caliber. Thx for linking me!

Ciji Ware said...

I really appreciated this thoughtful review, and am delighted that the interaction between the Scottish kilted regiments and the British Crown troops--along with the fairly unknown role they played in the American Revolution--might prompt more research into this fascinating period of 18th c. history. As for the love scenes...I can only say that the Duchess of Gordon bore seven children and was in love with two men most of her life...what's a poor girl to do?

I'm so thrilled that Jane Maxwell's story is getting some of the attention this extraordinary woman deserved. And as far as the book being made into a film: from your lips to God's ears! That's always been my dream, so thank you! (Who should play Jane? Keira Knightly? Hmmmm.....)

Meanwhile, Happy Reading!
Ciji Ware

Sheila Deeth said...

Great review. Sounds like a fascinating saga.

Ms. Lucy said...

Hey Muse! You will love it, I'm sure:)

Hi Heather:)Me and you both...all I read are bits and pieces here and there about her.

Marie- I loved your review...but yeah, I found that too much of the relationships concentrated alot on those scenes..too much for me.

Ciji! Thank you so much for stopping by- but especially for writing this wonderful book! I really do wish they make a movie out of it:) I'm still wodering about the actress- but not Keira Knightly! She played in Duchess (of Devonshire..I'd love to see someone with a lot more punch...and definitely less fragile looking. Hmmm, wonder who...

Thanks Sheila!

Michelle @ The True Book Addict said...

I'm not much on racy love scenes in books. I just try to skim over them and, if it's a well written book, I can usually overlook it. This does sound like an entertaining and informative read. Great review!

elena maria vidal said...

Lucy, I love your reviews!

Ms. Lucy said...

Hi Michelle:) I'm exactly the same; skimming over these usually works for me too- and especially if the book is worth it -like this one! Thanks:)

Aww Elena:) Thank you for such a lovely comment!

Robinbird said...

Great review!

I have a little something for you on my blog!

http://almostcrazymommy.blogspot.com/2010/02/new-blog-award.html

everyday mom of one said...

Oh this looks like my kind of book. Thanks for reviewing it

Jaime said...

What a great review. I was on the fence about choosing this book and passed on it. Now wished I hadn't!!!!

Jenny Girl said...

Lucy Girl! How the heck are you? I totally see this as amovie. Keira Knightly or maybe Kate Beckensale? They are both beautiful and strong. Excellent review!

Dar said...

Hi Lucy, great review. This one sounds like something I'd like to read one of these days. There always seems to be so many good ones out there but never enough time to read them all.

Amy @ Passages to the Past said...

Great review Lucy!!! And I totally concur about this being a great movie...hmmm..who would play the hunky Thomas I wonder?! Ewwww....Jenny Girl..no KEIRA KNIGHTLY...ewww! I want a Jane who actually eats ;-)

I am new found fan of Ciji's and will be gobbling up everything she puts out!

Muse in the Fog said...

Hi Lucy!
I just finished and reviewed this the other day along with an interview with Ciji! I am loving the parts where you skip in paragraphs to avoid spoilers :) Apparently we both have the same view of it being a great movie like GWTW...that would be amazing! Have a great weekend!

Amy- I agree, no Keira Knightly...she already played Duchess of D, that would be funny if she played the Duchess of D's rival too lol.

Anna said...

Glad to see you enjoyed this book. I'm reading it right now and liking it so far. It's a bit long, but I'm eating it up as I hadn't heard of Jane Maxwell prior to the book.

--Anna
Diary of an Eccentric