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A Company of Swans

A Company of Swans [Kindle Edition]

Eva Ibbotson
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)

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Product Description


A slight, romantic little nosegay, by the English author of the livelier Magic' Flutes (! 984). This concerns a young thing from Cambridge who dances her way into all hearts - and one in particular - in a fabulous city on the Amazon. Young Harriet, offspring of a sweet (now deceased) mother and a horrid father, Professor of Classics at Cambridge, was raised by a mean and gloomy aunt, and in 1919 seems doomed not only to a life of drab and stiff-necked teas but, possibly, marriage to a stolid zoologist, Edward. Unaccountably, Harriet has been allowed ballet lessons, and it is impresario Dubrov who offers her a place in his corps de ballet, which will travel with the Dubrov company to the "Kubla Khan" city of "Manaus," 1,000 miles up the Amazon. Father says no, of course; but before Harriet goes off to find her destiny, she'll meet a sad little boy named Henry, supposedly heir to the estate of "Stavely." Henry's parents just don't seem to care about him, and he dreams of the return to Stavely of the uncle he's never seen - a man reported to be somewhere in the Amazon. Does Harriet find him in Manaus? Yes. Immediately. But before there's happiness all around, there'll be ballet performances starring a volcanic but kind-hearted prima; the arrivals of Edward with butterfly net and killing bottle, and Henry and Henry's mother (on the prowl); a recital of family history by the Mystery Uncle; and a stag entertainment when a terrified Harriet - in a petticoat - pops out of a cake to wow the gentlemen. Light entertainment, Cinderella-style, and a gentle humor that makes the sentimentality and cutesiness a little more palatable. (Kirkus Reviews)

Product Description

Weekly ballet classes are Harriet Morton's only escape from her intolerably dull life. So when she is chosen to join a corps de ballet which is setting off on a tour of the Amazon, she leaps at the chance to run away for good. Performing in the grand opera houses is everything Harriet dreamed of, and falling in love with an aristocratic exile makes her new life complete. Swept away by it all, she is unaware that her father and intended fiance have begun to track her down. . .

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 469 KB
  • Print Length: 404 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0230014844
  • Publisher: Young Picador; Unabridged edition (9 April 2008)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0230014844
  • ISBN-13: 978-0230014848
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #69,950 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

Eva Ibbotson is one of the best-loved children's writers in the world.

Her first children's novel was published in 1975, and her most famous story, JOURNEY TO THE RIVER SEA, won the Smarties Gold Prize in 2001.

Her books have been shortlisted for the Carnegie Medal, the Guardian Children's Fiction Prize, the Roald Dahl Funny Prize, and many other literary awards.

Eva died at the age of 85 in 2010

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
I didn't realise how much i had enjoyed this book and become involved in it until after i had finished the book and began to realise that the wonderful world that it had created was no more.

I started to miss the characters, the story, the setting.

In the story we follow the adventure of Harriet Morton as she leaves home, of her own accord from her father and step mother, to persue her dreams in the world of ballet in the Amazon.

The innocence and wholeheartedness of Harriet wins over many. During her travels she meets Rom - who relocated from England out to the Amazon after the love of his life left him for his brother due to their father changing his will and leaving the estate to him.

The many threads of the story develop and progress, the author painting wonderful images of all the diverse settings. As the story reaches its climax the reader finds the many strands of the story starting to mesh together to form a complete piece. Seemingly separate pieces from separate jigsaws come together in a way that is hard to predict.

The overall themes of the novel are ones of adventure, rebellion, and youth; yet morality, love, respect and truth are kept elevated throughout the story making the book both uplifting and a morally good and positive tale.

A wonderful journey and a novel that makes for a rewarding read.
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22 of 26 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I read Company of Swans years ago before discovering Ibbotson's wonderful novels for children, and was amazed by how much I remembered. She really is several cuts above the usual kind of romance writer, being steeped in culture (music especially) and a sense of character that bring her closer to the ideal world of Jane Austen than the deplorable vogue for chick lit.
Set in the Edwardian era, the novel follows the adventures of Harriet, daughter of a grim and joyless Cambridge professor (academics are always awful in Ibbotson's world)who runs away to join the ballet. The Company are bound for Manaus, the city up the Amazon that Maia also travels to in Journey to the River Sea. It's prima ballerina is a fading Russian star who sees that this plain, intelligent lonely girl has talent; but Harriet has promised an equally lonely small boy that she will find his uncle Rom, who is a rubber-planter in Manaus. Fabulously rich and devastatingly handsome, Rom has mistresses galore but none intrigue him as much as the plain girl dancing in the corps. Meanwhile, Harriet's vile father and aunt have sent the man they want her to marry in hot pursuit of her before she is ruined...
The plot is less conventional than it sounds, and full of delightful descriptions of character and place. An excellent entertaining read.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A delicious, rewarding, utterly enjoyable book 23 Mar 2009
By J Bond
I have read many other Eva Ibbotson books and this one is just as brilliant.

The novel is set in the early twentieth century (1915 I think?) Harriet is a small intelligent girl with a passion for dancing, who is trapped in her father's loveless cold, grey house.She is then offered a position in the Dubrov Ballet Company and has a huge row with her father because he won't let her go. Then, when she and her aunt's "Tea Ladies", go to visit the Brandon family mansion, Stavely, Harriet has a chance meeting with a small boy called Henry, which sets the story rolling.
This story is wonderfully descriptive, making you feel you really are there seeing what Harriet is seeing, and feeling what she is feeling. The characters are all very unique and endearing and you will remember them long after the last page is turned.

I am in awe of Mrs Ibbotson, a talented author, because of the wonderful way she can describe such deep true love! Wow!
Everyone should buy this book. Young and old. And if you have other Eva Ibbotson books on your shelf you need this one too! They will be lonely without it :)
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Worth a read, not her best. 12 Oct 2008
Really good beginning, vivid, likable characters, Ibbotson returns to her beloved South American setting where she excels in describing the flora and fauna. You are immediately sucked into the story and captivated.

It feels like the author can't be bothered towards the end though and it's all a little contrived, hence only 3 stars.
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Format:Kindle Edition
Although the South American setting is unusual and beautifully described, every thing else about this tale is formulaic and predictable. I saw how the cake incident would turn out before Edward even arrived on the scene, Mrs Brandons part in the plot was obvious even before she left England, I could even predict her husband's death. No, not because I am precognitive, as handy as that would be, I'm not. I simply know these things because this story is sadly let down by dot to dot plotting that no amount of window dressing with exotic locations, zoological terminology or theatrical soap operas can disguise.
My rating would be more generous if my enjoyment had not been curtailed by knowing what was coming long before it arrived. How I would have welcomed something happening that had not been telegraphed ahead chapters before! What's the point of a pretty package for your present if you not only know what's in the box, but you already have what it contains?
Its unfortunate, the characters are mostly well drawn and the author appears to have done a great deal of research, but that cannot make up for the reader having nothing to look forward to because the plot is so obvious.
Also, Harriet is described as moral but frankly she is a bit too wishy washy for that. When she decides to meekly submit to Rom ravishing her I quite honestly wanted to give her a good shaking. For some one whose inspiration is a Roman General she's sadly lacking pluck.
There is not much to offend, no swearing or bedroom scenes, but much of the humour is rather farcical and juvenile, only the Russian characters adding humour that rises above that level.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Great! for the ages (12 to 15)
i felt sorry for poor harriet morton when i first got the book i was first reading "magic flutes" after i got absorbed in the company of swans its about a girl, Harriet... Read more
Published 12 months ago by sada
5.0 out of 5 stars (Enter your chosen superlative here)
Intelligent heroine, interesting characters, historically rich, packed full of literary references, and wonderfully romantic. Read more
Published 16 months ago by review
4.0 out of 5 stars Relaxing read
I enjoyed this book but was disappointed that it was not so good as a previous book I had read. It was a bit over the top but I enjoyed it well enough
Published 18 months ago by Mrs. C. Beavers
5.0 out of 5 stars A company of swans
An awesome book!!!! I really love this book and always love reading it! An amazing author! I love this book!!!!
Published 18 months ago by Inderpreet Randhawa
5.0 out of 5 stars A tasty read
I really enjoyed this book. The historical details and the background of ballet dancing and it's hardship made a great foundation for a romance that was part tragedy and part... Read more
Published 20 months ago by I. Fenton
4.0 out of 5 stars Lovely book
I enjoyed this book, especially the ballet theme. I think it is wonderfully written and draws you in to the characters lives. Read more
Published 23 months ago by JennyWilson83
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful book!
I have read 5 Eva Ibbotson novels and this is probably my favourite although they are all beautifully written with interesting story lines, and all with a few cleverly written... Read more
Published on 1 April 2012 by A.H
5.0 out of 5 stars A-m-A-z-I-n-G
This book is A-m-A-z-I-n-G! One of Ibbotson's best! Really good light-hearted read, captures the spirit of joy. Harriet will be with you long after you turn the final page. Read more
Published on 7 Oct 2011 by Matthew Parker
5.0 out of 5 stars what a great book
it was great a good book for a relaxing holiday i loved it i loved it i loved it i loved it i loved it i loved it i loved it i loved it i loved it i loved it
Published on 23 July 2011 by lol :)
4.0 out of 5 stars A Pleasant and Sweet Read
Eva Ibbotson's `A Company of Swans' is a pleasant book and well worth reading. While it is not my favourite of her novels, it contains the little quirks and charms that have become... Read more
Published on 21 July 2011 by Little Miss Bookworm
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Popular Highlights

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Live not as though a thousand years are ahead of you. Fate is at your elbow; make yourself good while life and power are still yours. &quote;
Highlighted by 14 Kindle users
Loneliness had taught Harriet that there was always someone who understood – it was just that so very often they were dead, and in a book. &quote;
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‘The faculty of making fortunate discoveries by accident.’ &quote;
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