- Paperback: 374 pages
- Publisher: Speak; Reprint edition (6 Sept. 2007)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0142409405
- ISBN-13: 978-0142409404
- Product Dimensions: 21 x 14 x 2.7 cm
- Average Customer Review: 37 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 4,434,356 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
A Company of Swans Paperback – 6 Sep 2007
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An enchanting love story set in the Amazon, by the award-winning and bestselling author of JOURNEY TO THE RIVER SEA. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
About the Author
Eva Ibbotson lives in Newcastle upon Tyne and has four grown-up children. She has written ten other books for children, which have been translated into many languages. She has won several major awards for her work, and two major movies based on her books are currently in development. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
The story is straight on point and the characters are painted in a matter-of-factly way. Its narrative is fresh and to the point, but at times it is a bit messy as it keep switching point of views. In the book there’s a lot of ballet terminology and it describes the ballet culture well, so it is easy to assume that this is book will be treasured by ballet enthusiastic teens. Also the story paints a rather realistic picture of pre-war modern era.
Another negative point to make about this book is that the chapters are terribly long, and the long chapters have few natural “stop points.”The main character is a curios girl, Harriet, who grew up in a home without love or laughter. Her father is a strict professor and she is more or less raised by her aunt after her mother’s death. And it is interesting to see Harriet leave her overprotective home in England and run away with a Ballet de Corpse into the Amazon.
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.
One of my first thoughts when I finished the book was 'what an intricately designed and very real world I was just left.' Through the meticulous description of the relationships between the large cast of characters, the flora and fauna of the Amazon jungle, the art of ballet and detailed plot, Ibbotson's writing created a world of a particular group of people and their connections that I fully believed was possible to have existed.
In this novel, there was an interesting array of characters from varying backgrounds and distinct personalities. What made the characterisation so strong for me was the secondary/supporting characters, which I find can often make or break the book and be the difference between a flat book and words that come alive. We meet the do-gooders, the eccentric tea ladies who make Harriet's life a misery, endearing but odd little Henry who wants to be an explorer in the Amazon, the French beauty Marianne who befriends Harriet, Simonova, the prima ballerina of the company, Harriet's cowardly and awkward suitor who studies insects and many more.
The protagonist Harriet- Harriet is a determined and emotional character, but can appear to be a bit wishy washy. She is very kind, graceful and loyal and also clever. In appearance, is described as looking plain and a bit serious but 'grave looking eyes' with brown hair. However, her 'plainness' actually becomes her charm. When it comes to dancing, Harriet is always very passionate and extremely hard working to catch up for her lack of experience and prestigious training. She also loves the wild Amazon and learning about the names of the hundreds upon thousands of species of animals and plants. I found Harriet likable, especially when she came out of her shell but I felt that she was a bit too unflawed: she always did the right thing, said the right thing and nearly everyone liked her.
The male lead Rom- Rom is a rich and dashing rubber plantation owner who I won't reveal too much about because I don't want to spoil the story. I thought that his relationship with Harriet was lovely, especially the need to protect her and his treasured feelings for her were very well conveyed and showed that he always thought of what was best for her.
I loved the idea of using the Amazon for the setting, it was the perfect place and I've never come across a book set there before and I'm not sure if there are any other books set in the mainly unexplored Amazons in the 1900s. It made the book more unique and was fantastic for plot opportunities and descriptions, fitting in with the whole book perfectly.
Quite a lot of the book was set in the theatre where Harriet and the Dubrov ballet company performed and the way ballet was woven straight through the plot and not just as a theme was lovely . The descriptions of the ballet performances were magical and at some points, I found them more compelling than the romance itself.
The setting and themes made sure that there was something for everyone to particularly enjoy whether a ballet lover, someone with a keen sense of adventure and exploration or a romance fan.
As I mentioned previously, the plot of this novel was very intricate and followed the lives and relationships of a lot of characters but still kept the romance central. I found that the plot was very well paced, which gave time for you to absorb the unfamiliarity of Harriet's world. Ibbotson thought out this book very well and there were many small details at the beginning of the book that fell into place at the end. Her planning and skill also shows in the fact that something that could have turned into a complicated tangle fell into place effortlessly. The only pitfall of the plot was that some of the times Harriet and Rom were able to spend time together were slightly too coincidental but the beauty and cleverness of the storyline far outweighed that.
Verdict: This refreshingly enchanting story and light hearted romance set in the Amazon that verged on the fairy tale like was such a beautiful book with wonderful descriptions and the added magic of a ballet theme.
It is such a shame that the author died recently, she was a shining star in both children's and adult's literature.
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