Friday, 21 October 2011

The Swan House

Author: Elizabeth Musser
Genre: Christian/ Historial Fiction
Type: ebook (Kindle)
Series: First book in The Swan House series
First Line: "Abby moved down to Grant Park today, and of course I helped her."

Synopsis:  Mary Swan is a sheltered well-to-do teenager who has been raised in a "fine Atlanta family".  When her mother is suddenly killed in a plane crash Mary Swan's world is shattered and she's left with several unanswered questions regarding her mother's life.  As she spirals deeper into her grief her African-American maid takes Mary Swan to help in a poorer section of Atlanta to give her something else to do besides grieve.

It's while helping to serve food to the poor that Mary Swan begins to see the vast differences in her life compared to the African-American people she helps.  After becoming friends with a black youth she begins to see how prevalent prejudice is in Atlanta and she vows to make a difference.  Along the way she learns about Faith and how it can help her heal.

My Thoughts:  Going into this book, which I bought for my Kindle, I was expecting a historical fiction read based in the Civil Rights era of the south that dealt with a teenage girl finding some haunting family secrets in an old mansion called The Swan House.   Unfortunately the write up on the book was very misleading. 

The majority of the book dealt with Mary Swan's burgeoning faith and had a very strong Christian focus.  I'm a Christian myself but have never read any Christian fiction before -- it's just not a genre that has intrigued me.   Unfortunately, towards the end of the book it felt like the Christian aspect was being forced on the main storyline and honestly took over.  I admit that it was touching seeing Mary Swan's burgeoning faith but I think the author overindulged in that part of the book (especially when the write up didn't mention anything about this book being Christian literature).  There were other themes in the book (prejudice, mental health) that were sidelined and not explored as much as I would have liked.

Overall, it was just OK.  The writing wasn't inspiring and it really lagged in the middle and towards the end.  I found myself speed reading several sections because the author tended to  be very verbose in her descriptions and added a lot of extraneous information.  For example, including multiple newspaper clippings that described over and over the plane crash that killed Mary Swan's mother.  Why does the reader have to read the articles?  Wouldn't it have been better to summarize the information for the reader?  It happened a few times in the book and felt like the author was trying to fill pages rather than progress the storyline.

The prologue and the epilogue were also superfluous and didn't add to the story.  The book begins with Mary Swan describing to her grown daughter what her life was like when she was a teen the year her mother died.  Unfortunately by the end of the book I had forgotten that the prologue even happened so I was a little confused when I started to read the epilogue until I reread the beginning (which shows how unmemorable the prologue was to the storyline).
Unfortunately this was an overly long book that, quite honestly, I forced myself to finish.  It just didn't captivate me.

My Rating: 2/5 stars

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