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The Swan House: A Novel by [Musser, Elizabeth]
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The Swan House: A Novel Kindle Edition

4.6 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews

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Length: 448 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

This beautiful story of a young girl coming of age in the midst of racial turmoil and personal tragedy in 1960s Atlanta convincingly describes how religious faith satisfies the girl's deepest longings. Sixteen-year-old Mary Swan Middleton is white, wealthy and privileged "We are, of course, another fine Atlanta family," she says sarcastically. As the novel opens, her artistic and depressed mother has just been killed in an air crash in Paris, leaving a slew of secrets behind. As Mary Swan unlocks the past, she wrestles with her grief over her mother's death and the direction of her own life. But "the Lawd don't neva' waste our pain," says her wise African-American maid, Ella Mae. When Mary Swan begins volunteering with the poor, she falls in love with a handsome black teen, Carl. As she works through her confusion about her feelings for him and her despair over her mother, she finds her true calling as a painter and reformulates her preconceived ideas about race and faith. This creative novel is highly descriptive but not overdone, brimming with touches of humor, factual Atlanta settings, historical incidents and well-developed characters. Some tightening of overlong passages would have accelerated the pace, and the novel would stand on its own more effectively without the introduction and the epilogue, which mostly function as advertisements for a sequel. But these are minor glitches in a book that stands out in recent Christian fiction for its excellent writing and overall quality.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

Adult/High School-A complex coming-of-age novel set in Atlanta in 1962. Daughter of a wealthy stockbroker, Mary Swan Middleton finds that her easy life is turned upside down by her mother's death. So that she can do something constructive in her grief, her African-American maid gets her to help at her church providing meals for the poor. Making new friends there, she resents racial prejudices and stereotypes that she sees in her old "friends." Mary Swan finds more meaning and truly accepts Christ at this new church. Before her mother's death she had also accepted a traditional challenge posed by seniors in her private school that involved delving into the woman's past. The author ties the plot strands together and builds to a moving climax and a rosy future. The use of the first person immediately draws readers into the life of the 16-year-old. This is an excellent look at the racial conditions of the time and includes realistic dialect. The novel might be used to motivate students to volunteer as it shows how the influence of just one person can spread.
Claudia Moore, W. T. Woodson High School, Fairfax, VA
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

Product Details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1207 KB
  • Print Length: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Bethany House Publishers (July 1 2001)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00B856AMI
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #218,383 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
The Swan House was about a young girl, Mary Swan, who lost her mother in the tragic Orly plane crash. This book shows how Mary Swan struggles with her loss, when her family maid suggests volunteering at a church, serving meals to the poor and homeless. During that time, she meets two people who change her life: a black boy named Carl and a kind woman named Abigail, who leads her to Christ. In the meantime, she is asked to solve a mystery for her school, where she learns more about her mother and about herself than what she has bargained for.
I loved the character development in this book. The author did a great job describing the characters and what made them the way they are: how Mary Swan's mother suffered from depression due to issues from her past, Carl's family background, and how Abigail came to serve at the church in the inner city.
This books was clearly well researched. I traveled to Atlanta once for work, and it was so interesting hearing about the various sites in that city. I loved the history of Coca-Cola. It was also clear that race relations in the 60's in the south were well-researched and well-depicted, as well as the plane crash. I also thought that the author did a great job with presenting mental illness, that depression is not something really terrible, but something that there is no shame getting help for.
The author also described several lessons very well. She described that black and white people can and should be friends with one another, and that the truth shall set you free. I loved the Raven/Swan symbolism (ie. the black and white races, life and death, etc). I really loved how Mary Swan's mother described church--as a place where one should be able to be him/herself and not have to paint a happy face all the time.
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Format: Paperback
"The Swan House" immediately took me back to a time that touched the deepest part of my memories. The early 60s were a wonderful time for young white girls to enjoy the undeserved pleasure of a happy life when men and blacks' jobs were to care for them and ensure their happiness. These memories stir the inner struggle of ultimate selfishness masked with a beautiful acceptance to be served and yet not to serve in return.
Elizabeth Musser captured my heart and drove right to my very soul by exposing my sinful desire to be special. However, in the acceptance of this confession, I am rewarded with the wonderful good news that I am special and served and cared for by the Creator of the universe. My service is to understand the equality of all, at the "foot of the Cross" and serve my brother.
Every chapter of Musser's book, surprised me with memories of a city I love, Atlanta. I am no longer the selfish little girl that received while others did not, but now stirve to first serve with a thankful heart.
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Format: Paperback
Elizabeth Musser captures the spirit of Atlanta in the 1960s in an incredible manner, from the traditional language of the Varsity (one of our best-known fast food resturants) to the Georgia Tech vs. University of Georgia football game. The characters were believable, with believable faults and talents. Everybody in the book was startlingly real. The plot was well developed, and it kept me guessing until the last few pages. I was caught up into the story very quickly. Musser's writing style is exceptional. The story flows well and is an easy read. Musser talks about buildings and places in Atlanta and the surrounding areas that still exist, making the story even more real. The main character is a 16-year-old girl, who is dealing with the loss of a parent, racism against her friends, and a kind lady named Miss Alice who has something special in her heart. I think this book is absolutely wonderful and should be read by anyone who has even heard about Atlanta. I wish Amazon.com gave me the option for more stars! "The Swan House" deserves many more than 5!
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Format: Paperback
This was a great read! I grew up in Atlanta during the '60's in the same area of Atlanta as the character in the book, as well as the area the author lived.(I attended the "other" private school just down the road she mentions in the story!)Elizabeth writes from a point of view one could only do having been there or knowing someone who had. I kept feeling I was experiencing "deja vu" with every page I turned.When I read about Mary Swan going to the High Museum and seeing the J.J.Haverty Collection it was too much! I too went as a young girl and viewed the same collection with my mother, who was also an artist--"Mr. J.J." was my great grandfather!If anyone wants to know what Atlanta was like back then, this is a great and very enjoyable resource of historical fiction. An interesting side note - The author writes that she is married to a protestant minister and has two sons named Andrew and Christopher. Same here!"Deja vu" again!
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Format: Paperback
I found the book tolerable, but it did not captivate me. Mary Swan rings hollow in her teen angst except in her early grief for her mother. I was not that interested in the contrived situations and responses of the characters and would have stopped reading a hundred or so pages into the story, but finished since my book club had selected this to read. We all felt our teenaged daughters would enjoy this story. I can see where some women from the south with ties to Atlanta society might also enjoy it. It was not my cup of tea, but I have several friends to whom I plan to lend the book expecting they will like it better.
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