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A Company of Swans

A Company of Swans

4.6 73
by Eva Ibbotson

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Ballerinas and exotic rogues abound in this charming and lyrical historical romance for fans of Amanda Quick

For nineteen-year-old Harriet Morton, life in 1912 Cambridge is as dry and dull as a biscuit. Her stuffy father and her opressive aunt Louisa allow her only one outlet: ballet. When a Russian ballet master comes to class searching for dancers to fill


Ballerinas and exotic rogues abound in this charming and lyrical historical romance for fans of Amanda Quick

For nineteen-year-old Harriet Morton, life in 1912 Cambridge is as dry and dull as a biscuit. Her stuffy father and her opressive aunt Louisa allow her only one outlet: ballet. When a Russian ballet master comes to class searching for dancers to fill the corps of his ballet company before their South American tour, Harriet’s world changes. Defying her father’s wishes and narrowly escaping the clutches of the man who wishes to marry her, Harriet sneaks off to join the ballet on their journey to the Amazon. There, in the wild, lush jungle, they perform Swan Lake in grand opera houses for the wealthy and culture-deprived rubber barons, and Harriet meets Rom Verney, the handsome and mysterious British exile who owns the most ornate opera house. Utterly enchanted by both the exotic surroundings and by Rom’s affections, Harriet is swept away by her new life, completely unaware that her father and would-be finacé have begun to track her down. . . .

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Ginny Sautner
Harriet Morton is a sweet-hearted and intelligent young girl with the misfortune to grow up under the oppressive ideologies of her father and aunt in the early years of the 20thcentury. With antiquated ideas of gender roles, Professor Morton forbids his daughter from continuing her education, thus stifling her spirit. All this changes when a small red-headed young boy asks some innocent questions about her life. Following her intuition and a string of unlikely coincidences, Harriet chances to change her life. She leaves her safe and restrictive home in Cambridge, England, and takes haven with Dubrov's Russian Ballet Company performing in the Amazon. In a bizarre twist of fate, she meets the red-headed boy's uncle, Rom Verney, and falls hopelessly in love with this British ex-patriot. Her journey, both emotional and physical, teaches Harriet how to be independent and allows her the space to gain real self-confidence and to forge her own destiny. Written with wit and an intelligent humor, the author recreates the time period in a way that feels authentic. The constant allusions to literary greats will make readers feel a connection to classic literature, and the novel expects readers to have a bit of background knowledge about the time period. Teens looking for historical and romantic fiction will not find a better tale of intrigue and female strength. Reviewer: Ginny Sautner

Product Details

Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
Publication date:
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
5.47(w) x 8.21(h) x 1.03(d)
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

Meet the Author

Eva Ibbotson, born Maria Charlotte Michelle Wiesner (21 January 1925 – 20 October 2010), was an Austrian-born British novelist, known for her children's books. Some of her novels for adults have been successfully reissued for the young adult market in recent years. For the historical novel Journey to the River Sea (Macmillan, 2001), she won the Smarties Prize in category 9–11 years, garnered unusual commendation as runner up for the Guardian Prize, and made the Carnegie, Whitbread, and Blue Peter shortlists. She was a finalist for the 2010 Guardian Prize at the time of her death. Her last book, The Abominables, was one of eight books on the longlist for the same award in 2012.

The following interview appeared in the Fall 2001 Preview Magazine

Do you have any rituals?

I can write anywhere if I have to because I still use a pen and paper -, but when I am at home I go to the old carved desk I inherited from my mother who was a writer too, and told some fantastic stories. The morning is best for ideas, and I have to be wearing warm clothes because when I am thinking hard I get cold. And I have to have a waste paper basket handy for all the pages that have gone wrong.

Whom do your share your writing with first?

I don't really share my work until it is published, I feel too uncomfortable about unfinished work.

When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

I don't think I ever knew, it just happened. One day I wrote 'author' in my passport and that was that..

What were you doing when you found out that your first book was going to be published?

Cooking supper for my husband and children. My agent phoned and I shouted and we all danced about, except my husband who saw to it that the sauce did not burn.

What did you treat yourself to when you found out that your first book was accepted for publication?

My first money as a writer came from a short story in a magazine. It was a very small sum, and I bought Mars Bars for everybody in the family.

What was the first book you remember reading as a child? Did you have a favorite book as a child?

I don't remember the name of my first book, but I know it had a picture of very bright berries, green and red in a forest- and people lived inside the berries... Perhaps that's where my passion for forests comes from!

Do you read reviews of your own work?

Yes, when I am sent them, but I don't go out and look.

What’s the best question a teen has asked about your writing?

I don't know what the best question is, but by far the most common is 'Where do you get your ideas from?' - and the answer to that is very difficult (and therefore interesting).

What are you reading right now?

The Wizard of Earthsea, by Ursula Le Guin.

Susan, your editor, tells me Journey to the River Sea is a book you've wanted to write for years. How did the idea first come to you?

Journey to the River Sea was written quite quickly but it spent years and years inside my head. It started with my hearing about this fabled opera house a thousand miles from the mouth of the Amazon and I thought it was one of the strangest things I had ever heard - I meant to go there and see for myself but then I realised it would mean going back into the past because everything is quite different there now. So I went on reading and dreaming and researching and then one day, I picked up my pen to start a new book about witches and ghosts and found I had started to write an adventure story set in the jungle.

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A Company of Swans 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 73 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A company of swans is an excellent novel. It begins with the life of a regular girl living a unfriendly life. The only place she can find peace and love is in dancing. From the beginning of the book you begin to feel compassion for the main character. When she gets an opportunity to preform near the Amazon for a ballet you become part of the story. You find yourself wanting to know more about her adventures and love. She encounters many problems, but when she falls in love with one of the riches men known to London her life becomes a roller-coaster. Throughout the book you are experiencing the emotions of a young girl who thinks her life is doomed and finds that if you fight hard enough, you may end up with what you want. This is a book I would reread for enjoyment. It is one that I wish to live in and experience myself and teaches me to hope for the future.
beautybabydoll More than 1 year ago
I must say this is my ALL TIME favorite book. It has a bit of everything, romance, action, adventure, travel, the arts, and lots of history. You never want to put it down, and you always want to find out what's next. The ending was PERFECT as in I didn't have to even want a sequel, it was perfect. I think if you wanted to try one of her stories, START WITH THIS ONE. This is the first I've read of hers and I will continue to read it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I dance myself and this book is AMAZING! I love rereading it, and always find myself making references to it during the day. I just adore this book even though a page or two made no sense. If you don't dance it would be helpful to ask about some of the words and steps if you know somebody who does dance. Or just use google images.
anne40 More than 1 year ago
I loved the music, the flowers, and the wonderful larger than life characters. By the way, I am 75 years old and out the age range for this book. Thinking about this book makes me smile.
Willow_luv2 More than 1 year ago
One of my favorite books by her.
Curieuse More than 1 year ago
I do a lot of reading. Seriously, I read all the time. I have read countless books, yet this one is the book that stood out from all the others. Although in some respects it is predictable and the heroine is nearly flawless, every time I read this book it captivates me all over again. Although other readers may not hold it as highly as I do, it is definitely worth your time and money to give this book a chance.
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PortugiPrisca More than 1 year ago
Every time I read a book by Eva Ibbotson I say "Best one yet!", but I have to say it again lol I loved their love story and I truly felt attached to the characters. I could see their love really develop and truly felt the heartbreak and joy felt throughout the book.
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iWrite16 More than 1 year ago
This book is pretty good. I loved the old-fashioned romance of it. Though the it's very predictable, it's well-written, elegant, and a good read for a rainy day.
dancesforever More than 1 year ago
This book has an heavenly story line that make you dicover your self who you are and who you want to be. The way it was written was confusing in some parts beacase there is alot of older talk and freach words other than that it was a good story but a longer read well worth the effort.
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___Melissa___ More than 1 year ago
The book starts out kind of boring, but by the third chapter or so...I was addicted! It was interesting to see Harriet, the main character, grow as a person. I'm glad I kept reading this book, and totally recommend it :D
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Sparrow_Captivated More than 1 year ago
That quote above from the book A Company of Swans, is one of my all-time favorite quotes. It carries so much emotion and power in that one sentence, simply because of why Harriet is saying it. This is the first book I read of Eva Ibbotson and I was not dissapointed. She has a way with her stories that envelopes you into them so that you become so engrossed, that every little detail or newfound mystery is like unwrapping a gift. She gives us this girl Harriet, who is so very determined in life to live though throughout her youth she is held captive; this very motif (a way of putting it) speaks to all girls, I believe. It reflects our own determination and ones that have wilted and grown frail. And in contrast to this wonderous character, we get the male lead, Rom. It holds many qualities that lure the hearts and as you read this book you will smile and grin and smirk at his certain judgements and actions. He is a man every girl who reads this book will dream to jump on the next boat to the Amazon in 1912 - in search of him like our dear Harriet does somewhat unconsciously and yet, fatedly. But in this happy tale comes the dragons of course and in the form of a man named Dr. Edward Finch-Dutton; whose love of mutated fleas and annoyance of female scholars brings us humor and outrage (but nothing too hindering); and then as well comes a certain scarlet-haired beauty. What I love most about this author's books is that she gives us complete endings that satisfy and though we love to read more, we are happy with the end result with each book of hers. She puts in little stories that have much to do with the overall story and like the quote above, she comes with fantastic phrases. Everytime I read this it gives me something, an inspiration or feeling. I have probably read this book more than six times and it never gets old. I recommend this book to romantics and girls who love love stories and even older women who miss the days of rescueing men without the baggy pants and headphones in their ears. It is a great story and one that shall never get old. Please read it, for it shall not dissapoint. "I know what it's like . . . I know how it is to be at a window . . . outside . . . and to look in on a lighted room and not be able to make anyone hear." "How do you know? You have not experienced it." "Perhaps I am going to one day. There is a man in England who says that time is curved . . ." (A Company of Swans)
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