- Paperback: 448 pages
- Publisher: Bethany House Publishers; Reprinted edition (July 1, 2001)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0764225081
- ISBN-13: 978-0764225086
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.1 x 8.4 inches
- Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 494 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #167,504 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Swan House (The Swan House Series #1) Paperback – July 1, 2001
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From Publishers Weekly
This beautiful story of a young girl coming of age in the midst of racial turmoil and personal tragedy in 1960s Atlanta convincingly describes how religious faith satisfies the girl's deepest longings. Sixteen-year-old Mary Swan Middleton is white, wealthy and privileged "We are, of course, another fine Atlanta family," she says sarcastically. As the novel opens, her artistic and depressed mother has just been killed in an air crash in Paris, leaving a slew of secrets behind. As Mary Swan unlocks the past, she wrestles with her grief over her mother's death and the direction of her own life. But "the Lawd don't neva' waste our pain," says her wise African-American maid, Ella Mae. When Mary Swan begins volunteering with the poor, she falls in love with a handsome black teen, Carl. As she works through her confusion about her feelings for him and her despair over her mother, she finds her true calling as a painter and reformulates her preconceived ideas about race and faith. This creative novel is highly descriptive but not overdone, brimming with touches of humor, factual Atlanta settings, historical incidents and well-developed characters. Some tightening of overlong passages would have accelerated the pace, and the novel would stand on its own more effectively without the introduction and the epilogue, which mostly function as advertisements for a sequel. But these are minor glitches in a book that stands out in recent Christian fiction for its excellent writing and overall quality.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
From School Library Journal
Adult/High School-A complex coming-of-age novel set in Atlanta in 1962. Daughter of a wealthy stockbroker, Mary Swan Middleton finds that her easy life is turned upside down by her mother's death. So that she can do something constructive in her grief, her African-American maid gets her to help at her church providing meals for the poor. Making new friends there, she resents racial prejudices and stereotypes that she sees in her old "friends." Mary Swan finds more meaning and truly accepts Christ at this new church. Before her mother's death she had also accepted a traditional challenge posed by seniors in her private school that involved delving into the woman's past. The author ties the plot strands together and builds to a moving climax and a rosy future. The use of the first person immediately draws readers into the life of the 16-year-old. This is an excellent look at the racial conditions of the time and includes realistic dialect. The novel might be used to motivate students to volunteer as it shows how the influence of just one person can spread.
Claudia Moore, W. T. Woodson High School, Fairfax, VA
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
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Top customer reviews
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I enjoyed this story so much that as soon as I finish writing this review I'm going to see what else I can find to read by this author and its 2 o'clock in the morning but I just have to see if I can at least start a new book written by Elizabeth Musser. I don't often give 5 stars because I feel a book has to be above and beyond, really special and it has to say something. Well, this book certainly deserves its 5 stars! I not only HIGHLY recommend this book, I'm warning you that this is a read you don't want to miss. This is why we read. :)
HIGHLY RECOMMEND!!! :D
The second issue is small but bothered me because it was inaccurate. Mary Swan mentioned that one of the boys in Carl's band reminded her of Fat Albert a character she and her parents had listened to on a record by Bill Cosby. I didn't think that sounded right, Bill Cosby would have been 25 in 1962 and I didn't think Fat Albert was around when he was that young. I searched and Bill Cosby actually had some Fat Albert records that pre dated the TV show but not nearly that early unless the author found more information than I could after searching quite a bit. I then began to be concerned about other historical references but nothing else seemed to be dated as wrong as the Fat Albert issue.
I am a few years younger than than Mary Swan would have been in 1962 but close in age and I found the story very interesting. I think it is because I grew up in the north in a small town with absolutely no black people and the only Jewish people I knew were my DOctor and Dentist who lived n our town and were well thought of, so I didn't have any conception of the civil unrest going on in the country at the time since it was never an issue where I lived. The story gave me a lot of perspective of the issues in larger towns in the south.
I also would have liked a little more clarification on who Mary Swan ended up marrying, it was not clear to me.