2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
An enjoyable read with plenty of interesting details,
This review is from: The Charm School (MIRA) (Paperback)
"The Charm School" is the first book that I have read by Susan Wiggs and I enjoyed it so much that I will look out for some of her others.
Isadora Peabody is the ugly duckling of the Peabody family and she's so used to being overlooked and misunderstood (she's very intelligent and well-read) that she had turned in on herself and become a dull person. Her family don't understand her and the only person in whom she has any interest is Chad, a friend of her brothers', but Chad doesn't seem to notice her.
Then Isadora has a chance to escape - to take a sea voyage as translator on the Silver Swan, a trading ship. Unfortunately her first introduction to the captain Ryan Calhoun wasn't optimal but she manages to persuade the ship's owner to let her come aboard, against Captain Calhoun's wishes.
When they set sail the book really takes off - the description of sailing in the mid-nineteenth century are excellent. I'm a bit of a sailor myself and I found it fascinating to read about how all the crew worked together on the boat and the different tasks they had. There's a very strong theme throughout the book about the slave trade in America and the way that so many people were slave owners without ever really thinking about it. There is some wonderful description when the ship docks in Rio and the way that Isadora slowly unfurls from the ugly duckling into the swan is beautifully written. The ending is satisfying and overall it was a very enjoyable book and I recommend it very highly.