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Flight of the Swan Paperback – July 1, 2002

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Love and betrayal, political upheaval, the sacrifices required by dedication to art, and class differences are some of the themes that Ferr‚ (The House on the Lagoon) engages in this imaginatively conceived but strangely lackluster story of a Russian ballet company stranded in Puerto Rico in 1917. Suddenly rendered stateless by the Russian revolution, a touring troupe headed by a famous prima ballerina is forced to remain in San Juan. As narrated by Masha, a member of the company who idolizes Madame and serves as her devoted maid and confidante, the troupe becomes caught up in the nascent Puerto Rican independence movement. Madame, who preaches the sanctity of art to her virginal acolytes, herself falls in love with Diamantino M rquez, a young man half her age, who uses her to further his revolutionary activities. Devastated by Madame's emotional abandonment, Masha attempts to save her mistress from her unwise passion. At first, Ferr‚'s straightforward narrative style ably conveys a wealth of background information, but soon digressions to explain historical events and long monologues overwhelm the plot. Jarringly, Masha's narration is broken off abruptly and briefly late in the story to introduce another voice. Overall, the novel is bland, devoid of stylistic distinction and sadly lacking in dramatic tension: even the climactic scene describing a tragic brawl during a carnival has little suspense. Despite Ferr‚'s laudable intentions to encapsulate a period of Puerto Rican history by fictionalizing some events in the life of Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova, this novel falls short of her previous work. (June)Forecast: A highly successful novelist in Puerto Rico, Ferr‚ began her career writing in Spanish. She now writes directly in English, which may account for the pedestrian quality of this novel. Since there is more gusto in her Spanish prose, which she herself has called "baroque," a Spanish-language version of this novel will undoubtedly find a wider audience.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Puerto Rican writer Ferr first published novels and stories in Spanish and then with National Book Award nominee The House on the Lagoon began writing in English. Her most recent English-language effort, inspired by Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova's tours of Latin America, is the engaging story of a world-famous but aging ballerina named "Madame" who finds herself and her ragtag company of dancers stranded in Puerto Rico in 1917. Madame's affair with a 20-year-old Puerto Rican revolutionary is seen from the perspective of Masha, Madame's adoring servant and companion, who herself falls in love with a black Puerto Rican shoemaker. The stateless Russians are in Puerto Rico at a time of ferment, when that country has just been acquired by the United States. Masha, born a peasant in Minsk, recognizes herself as a true Bolshevik as she witnesses the oppression on the island that will ultimately become her home. This book is lighter than Ferr 's previous English-language novels, which include Eccentric Neighborhoods as well as Lagoon, but should be equally applauded for its finely crafted language and its sense of history and place.
- Mary Margaret Benson, Linfield Coll. Lib., McMinnville, OR
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Plume (July 30, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0452283310
  • ISBN-13: 978-0452283312
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,153,247 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Jill Shure on December 12, 2001
Format: Hardcover
It may have clean verbage and a winning premise, but the story misses at every turn. The book attempts to cover Puerto Rican weather, politics, the social climate, and the main focus: a Russian ballerina and her dance troupe. But the novel fails to cover anything well. The book never fleshes out the characters. Every scene which might engage the reader and become exciting happens off stage so that we're left with a narrator's lackluster reference to it. We don't even really see the ballerinas warm-up, let alone feel their joy in dancing. I'm not sure what the writer's goal was since there's very little tension, and the story fails to have a clear plot.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Roberto C delacruz on September 18, 2001
Format: Hardcover
I loved this book... I started reading it in the cobblestoned streets of Old San Juan, on my way to snack on a famous buttered "mallorca" accompanied by cafe con leche from La Bombonera bakery. Before I knew it, I was enthralled in the story. I found myself walking the same streets as the characters, sitting in San Juan's main plazas while I read about the characters strolling at night in the same streets.... This book does a fantastic job of combining Puerto Rican culture and its political turmoil at the turn of the 19th century with the struggles of Russia during their revolution. The main characters are russian and they slowly become "latinized"-- more universal symbols of political struggle, characters that are displaced from their homeland to face the struggle of a new culture, language, and political struggle. This is Rosario Ferre's best book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By h gottlieb on January 7, 2002
Format: Hardcover
This is the first book of Ferre's that I read and I found it just fine. I agree with Publisher's Weekly that the introduction of a new voice near the end was jarring. But as someone not familiar with Puerto Rico of the early 20the Century I thought it was interesting, and the descriptions of the ballet company were engrossing. Great literature? No. A good read about two subjects exotic to most readers -- old Puerto Rico and ballet? Yes. I think it would make a great movie.
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