Re-issued in its original full length, this acclaimed and bestselling romantic historical novel by award-winning author Ciji Ware tells the true story of passionate and flamboyant Jane Maxwell, the 4th Duchess of Gordon (1749-1812). In love since childhood with Thomas Fraser, when she hears that he’s been killed in America, she marries the Duke of Gordon with disastrous results. But Fraser, very much alive, returns to England to claim her love.
In addition to telling a heart-wrenching love story, Island of the Swans also paints a fascinating portrait of a powerful and controversial woman and the tumultuous era in which she lived. Patroness of poet Robert Burns, advisor to King George, painted by Sir Joshua Reynolds, Jane Maxwell was a towering figure in her own time and is an unforgettable heroine.
I can’t flat out say that I hated Island of the Swans; for me, Ciji Ware’s vivid descriptions of the political and social scene in 18th century Scotland, England, and America saved the book from utter ruin. This was one of the most frustrating books I’ve read in a long time, because it focused on an epic love story (much in the tradition of Anne Easter Smith and old school Rosalind Laker), and the characters spent the entire book whining and fighting and pining to the point where I just wanted to scream. It was unfortunate, because Jane Maxwell Gordon, Duchess of Gordon, was clearly a fascinating character as a rival of the Duchess of Devonshire, and I loved reading about her exploits in recruiting soldiers for the wars in America and France and in getting votes for William Pitt the Younger. However, these events didn’t figure nearly as prominently as the times where she was either moaning about her lost love or worrying about seeing him when she found out he was in Scotland. It got old. Fast. And there was no pay off for all the agitation; in fact, I’m still agitated!
I don’t regret reading Island of the Swans, but I was definitely hoping for a different book.