Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Review: The Swan Gondola by Timothy Schaffert

Publisher: Riverhead (Penguin)
Pages: 464
Received: Received a copy from Penguin Canada in exchange for an honest review

Release Date: February 6, 2014
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Goodreads Synopsis:

A lush and thrilling romantic fable about two lovers set against the scandalous burlesques, midnight séances, and aerial ballets of the 1898 Omaha World’s Fair. 

On the eve of the 1898 Omaha World’s Fair, Ferret Skerritt, ventriloquist by trade, con man by birth, isn’t quite sure how it will change him or his city. Omaha still has the marks of a filthy Wild West town, even as it attempts to achieve the grandeur and respectability of nearby Chicago. But when he crosses paths with the beautiful and enigmatic Cecily, his whole purpose shifts and the fair becomes the backdrop to their love affair.

One of a traveling troupe of actors that has descended on the city, Cecily works in the Midway’s Chamber of Horrors, where she loses her head hourly on a guillotine playing Marie Antoinette. And after closing, she rushes off, clinging protectively to a mysterious carpetbag, never giving Ferret a second glance. But a moonlit ride on the swan gondola, a boat on the lagoon of the New White City, changes everything, and the fair’s magic begins to take its effect.

From the critically acclaimed author of The Coffins of Little HopeThe Swan Gondola is a transporting read, reminiscent of Water for Elephants or The Night Circus.

My Review:

I was really surprised by this book, this story kept me so engrossed that I didn't want to put it down. I loved following Ferret as you learn about how he fell in love with the beautiful Cecily, and how his entire life changes. This book felt so magical to me, it is definitely at the top of my list this year. The way the story is written, in a past and present manner, is a great tactic, I loved seeing what Ferret had to deal with after everything.

It was interesting to see the story revolve around a world fair, you can see the history of what State Fairs used to be like back in the day, and how different things are now. Timothy Schaffert has a beautiful description of the world as it was back in time, but the love story is what this book really has going for it. It was so great to watch as Ferret works his charm and tries to win over Cecily.

There are so many great characters that really add to the story, yes Cecily and Ferret are at the heart of the book, but so many of the secondary characters really bring you back. There is the old woman who takes care of Cecily, and loves her in her own way, and than William Wakefield, who really changes the story in a huge way. There are a lot of hurdles for Ferret and Cecily, but their story is magical and you can see how Ferret is not one who gives up easily. I absolutely loved Ferret and how much he does for the people he loves, he is willing to give up so much to take care of Cecily, even after he learns her secrets, he is even more in love with her than.

The book is hard to talk about without giving away some big plot spoilers, but this is such an adorable story. I loved how it felt like real life, that something good happens, but in a way this story does show that nothing is completely perfect. Timothy does such a great job taking readers back in time and showing a story of two people falling in love, and how the relationship goes along over time. This book is just all around beautiful and the theme of the swans is so adorable.


  1. Yay, I'm so glad you liked this! I'm planning on reading it in a couple of weeks, and hadn't seen any reviews for it. (I was also kind of nervous, because Tim is one of my professors and seeing him every day and hating his book would be awkwarddddd, lol.)

    But yay! I love that you say this story is "adorable"—such an exciting word. :D

  2. I don't really like the cover or the title so had you not reviewed this book I probably wouldn't have given it a second glance. But the synopsis sounds fascinating! And I love that you couldn't put it down. Maybe I'll have to check it out after all



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