Swan: A Novel

Kobo eBook available

read instantly on your Kobo or tablet.

buy the ebook now

Swan: A Novel

by Frances Mayes

October 8, 2002 | Hardcover

Not yet rated | write a review
By the #1 bestselling author of Under the Tuscan Sun, Bella Tuscany and In Tuscany, Swan is a haunting novel set in the deep South -- a resonant tale of long-buried family secrets and mysteries brought suddenly to light.

In her celebrated memoirs of life in Tuscany, Frances Mayes writes masterfully about people in a powerful and shaping place. In Swan, her first novel, she has created an equally intimate world, rich with striking characters and intriguing twists of fate, that hearkens back to her southern roots.

The Masons are a prominent but now fragmented family who have lived for generations in Swan, an edenic, hidebound small town in Georgia. As Swan opens, a bizarre crime pulls Ginger Mason home from her life as an archeologist in Italy: The body of her mother, Catherine, a suicide nineteen years before, has been mysteriously exhumed. Reunited on new terms with her troubled, isolated brother J.J., who has never ventured far from Swan, the Mason children grapple with the profound effects of their mother''s life and death on their own lives. When a new explanation for Catherine's death emerges, and other closely guarded family secrets rise to the surface as well, Ginger and J.J. are confronted with startling truths about their family, a particular ordeal in a family and a town that wants to keep the past buried.

Beautifully evoking the rhythms and idiosyncrasies of the deep South while telling an utterly compelling story of the complexity of family ties, Swan marks the remarkable fiction debut of one of America's best-loved writers.

Format: Hardcover

Published: October 8, 2002

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0767902858

ISBN - 13: 9780767902854

save
98%

Out of stock Sorry, this item has sold out and may be re-stocked in the future. Hurry, only 0 left! Not yet released

$1.00  ea

Online Price

$38.00 List Price

Cart

This item is eligible for FREE SHIPPING on orders over $25.
See details

Easy, FREE returns. See details

Item can only be shipped in Canada

Downloads instantly to your kobo or other ereading device. See details

All available formats:

Reviews

– More About This Product –

Swan: A Novel

by Frances Mayes

Format: Hardcover

Published: October 8, 2002

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0767902858

ISBN - 13: 9780767902854

Read from the Book

J. J. stood on the end of the dock, feeling as if the four pilings might rip loose in the current and send him rafting. But the dock held. He loved the smell of rivers. In July heat, in wavy air, in the throbbing of cicadas, in the first light on the river, he was what he would call happy. A full moon angled down between pines, casting a spiraling silver rope across the curve of the water. He watched the light, flicking through his mind for words to describe it. Luminous, flashing. Ordinary. The light seemed liquid, alive, annealed to the water, too changeable for any word. The river rode high after two storms. A cloud of gnats swarmed his foot, then moved as a single body over a swirl in the current. He stepped out of his faded red bathing suit--automatically he pulled on this suit every morning when he got out of bed--and climbed down the ladder into the water. His morning libations, he called this routine. In all the good months, and sometimes in the cold ones just for sheer cussedness, he dipped himself in the river early in the morning. Near the dock he could stand on the bottom, feeling the swiftness or languidness of the current, sometimes jumping as a fish nipped at the hairs on his legs and chest. He floated for a minute, listening to water whirl around his head, letting himself be carried, then turned his body sharply and swam over to the crescent of washed-sand beach his parents had cleared years ago. From there he could walk out of the river and follow a trace cov
read more read less

From the Publisher

By the #1 bestselling author of Under the Tuscan Sun, Bella Tuscany and In Tuscany, Swan is a haunting novel set in the deep South -- a resonant tale of long-buried family secrets and mysteries brought suddenly to light.

In her celebrated memoirs of life in Tuscany, Frances Mayes writes masterfully about people in a powerful and shaping place. In Swan, her first novel, she has created an equally intimate world, rich with striking characters and intriguing twists of fate, that hearkens back to her southern roots.

The Masons are a prominent but now fragmented family who have lived for generations in Swan, an edenic, hidebound small town in Georgia. As Swan opens, a bizarre crime pulls Ginger Mason home from her life as an archeologist in Italy: The body of her mother, Catherine, a suicide nineteen years before, has been mysteriously exhumed. Reunited on new terms with her troubled, isolated brother J.J., who has never ventured far from Swan, the Mason children grapple with the profound effects of their mother''s life and death on their own lives. When a new explanation for Catherine's death emerges, and other closely guarded family secrets rise to the surface as well, Ginger and J.J. are confronted with startling truths about their family, a particular ordeal in a family and a town that wants to keep the past buried.

Beautifully evoking the rhythms and idiosyncrasies of the deep South while telling an utterly compelling story of the complexity of family ties, Swan marks the remarkable fiction debut of one of America's best-loved writers.

From the Jacket

By the #1 bestselling author of "Under the Tuscan Sun, Bella Tuscany and "In Tuscany, Swan is a haunting novel set in the deep South -- a resonant tale of long-buried family secrets and mysteries brought suddenly to light.
In her celebrated memoirs of life in Tuscany, Frances Mayes writes masterfully about people in a powerful and shaping place. In "Swan, her first novel, she has created an equally intimate world, rich with striking characters and intriguing twists of fate, that hearkens back to her southern roots.
The Masons are a prominent but now fragmented family who have lived for generations in Swan, an edenic, hidebound small town in Georgia. As "Swan opens, a bizarre crime pulls Ginger Mason home from her life as an archeologist in Italy: The body of her mother, Catherine, a suicide nineteen years before, has been mysteriously exhumed. Reunited on new terms with her troubled, isolated brother J.J., who has never ventured far from Swan, the Mason children grapple with the profound effects of their mother''s life and death on their own lives. When a new explanation for Catherine''s death emerges, and other closely guarded family secrets rise to the surface as well, Ginger and J.J. are confronted with startling truths about their family, a particular ordeal in a family and a town that wants to keep the past buried.
Beautifully evoking the rhythms and idiosyncrasies of the deep South while telling an utterly compelling story of the complexity of family ties, "Swan marks the remarkable fiction debut of one of America''s best-loved writers.

About the Author

Frances Mayes's Tuscany memoirs, all published by Broadway Books, have a combined total of 2,000,000 copies in print. She is also the author of The Discovery of Poetry and five books of poetry. A native of Georgia, she now divides her time between San Francisco and Cortona, Italy.

Editorial Reviews

"This remains a solid read, sure to please readers who enjoy Southern fiction."
-Library Journal

"An assured fiction debut...Like Richard Russo''s novel Empire Falls, it smartly dissects and dynamics of small-town relationships and the interplay between prominent families and the less powerful over several generations...carefully constructed...you''ll fall for "Swan."
-USA Today

"Fueled by irresistable, page-turning questions."
-San Francisco Chronicle

"A painstaking study of a small Southern town and its people...combining [Mayes''s] talent for vivid scene-setting that [she] showed in "Tuscan Sun" with deft plotting and solid character development."
-St. Louis Post-Dispatch

"Loaded with finely-drawn minor characters and the alluring atmosphere of the American South, Swan is a well-paced...entertainment."
-New York Times Book Review

Bookclub Guide

1. The first two chapters introduce J. J. and Ginger in settings where they seem fulfilled and at peace. What does J. J.'s cabin have in common with the farmhouse Ginger rents in Italy? Is there any similarity between Ginger's relationship with Marco and J. J.'s experience with Julianne, the teacher from Osceola? How does Julianne measure up to Georgia Larkin?

2. Discuss the narrator's voice in Swan. What traits do you recognize from Frances Mayes's non fiction and poetry? How did her accomplished writer's eye serve her in creating a novel?

3. Compare her depiction of small-town Georgia to that of Tuscany. Are there any similarities between the Mason's family house and Bramasole?

4. Frances told her editor that Swan is "a book of memory, how it cuts and comes again, and of a powerful landscape, which is always at work shaping the people who live on its surface." What are some of the ways in which memory and landscape define the inhabitants of Swan? Were Swan's "old days" good ones?

5. Holt's relationship with Lucy is considered just as taboo as Catherine's extramarital affair. As time passes, how is this legacy of racism handled in the town of Swan? In what ways do Tessie and Scott reflect their generations?

6. Frances Mayes is renowned for her description of Tuscany's cuisine. What are some of the most tempting Southern dishes presented in the novel?

7. From Big Jim to Ginger, the novel portrays a variety of traditional and highly non-traditional men and women. Discuss how Swan's characters compare to the men and women in your life. Do you think that Southern gender roles are different from those found elsewhere in America?

8. Occurring early in the novel, Ginger's passionate scene with Marco is immediately followed by gruesome events in Magnolia Cemetery. How are attitudes toward sex and death entwined in the town of Swan?

9. Why do Ginger and J. J. have such opposing reactions to their father? How did your impression of Wills change when you learned of his connection to Dachau?

10. Do you suppose that Catherine would have rebuffed Austin's marriage proposal if she had been born twenty years later? Is her situation reflected in Ginger's first marriage? How does Catherine's affair compare with her children's romances?

11. Who were your primary suspects in Catherine's murder? How would you have reacted in Sonny's place?

12. Swan encompasses many genres. It's a murder mystery, a love story, a family history, a coming-of-age tale, and even somewhat of a travelogue. Which of these aspects most intrigued you?

13. Discuss the theme of archaeology in Swan. What is unearthed besides Catherine's body? What are some of the ancient references (such as J. J.'s skillful flint knapping) that enrich the novel?

14. Catherine's love of art, Matisse in particular, is preserved in her own drawings. Discuss the scene in which Ginger reads from Catherine's illustrated notebooks, at last giving voice to her mother. What are some of the meaningful items you have inherited from a relative?

15. Ginger dreads the journey back to Georgia, but J. J. was never able to move away. Discuss your own feelings toward the town where you grew up. How does this locale affect your sense of self?

16. Catherine left strong evidence of unfinished business, such as the unbaked cookie dough and a skirt still in the sewing machine. What are some of the broader unfinished aspects of her life?

17. Ginger is heir to dollhouses, cookbooks, and church-lady recipes. Where does J. J. fit into his family's "inheritance of women"? Do you think that Lily's attachment to her brother negatively affected his attitudes toward women?

18. Discuss the concept of privacy in Swan, from the snoopy postmaster to the telephone operator who reports on her customers' comings and goings.

19. In what way is J. J. out of his element in San Francisco? In what way is he completely at home there?

20. Explore the novel's deceptively simple title. Conveying grace and purity, is it an ironic name for the town?

Item not added

This item is not available to order at this time.

See used copies from 00.00
  • My Gift List
  • My Wish List
  • Shopping Cart