Michelle Magorian Not a Swan

ISBN 13: 9780060242145

Not a Swan

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9780060242145: Not a Swan

A seventeen-year-old girl in 1940's England spends an unchaperoned summer at a cottage in a seaside village, where a series of diaries by the cottage's most recent inhabitant, together with some intense personal experiences, open up her life to reveal her true wants and priorities.

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From Kirkus Reviews:

The author of Good Night, Mr. Tom (1982) returns to WW II with a story about three genteel British sisters, on their own when the woman hired to care for them is suddenly drafted. Though Diana, 21, Lettie, 19, and protagonist Rose, almost 18, are also old enough for war service, their sheltered education has left them unprepared for practical tasks. Still, Mum (an actress performing for the troops) is out of reach, Dad has recently been killed, and--after dithering about impropriety--they seize the chance for independence. The primitive vacation cottage is a challenge; more significantly, village life awakens them to the realities of relations between the sexes in wartime. Diana makes friends with an unwed mother, to Lettie's horror; at first equally judgmental, Rose comes to champion the girl whose own parents have disowned her. Reading a diary account of the tragic WW I romance of their cottage's deceased owner, ``Mad Hilda''; observing Diana's sudden, deep love for a soldier on leave; her own clumsy first bedding with a callow youth who urges his suit on the grounds that he's sure to die soon--all prepare Rose for a sweet, more mature relationship with Alec, a shell-shocked Dunkirk hero who shares her literary inclinations. With a satisfyingly dramatic plot (including the reappearance as an adult of the child so cruelly wrenched from Hilda long ago), plenty of likable characters, an authentic, vividly evoked setting, and several contrasting love stories- -especially Rose and Alec's tenderly warming friendship--an unusually engrossing and memorable novel. (Fiction. YA) -- Copyright ©1992, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

From School Library Journal:

Grade 9-12-- Rose, 17, and her older sisters have been evacuated from wartime London to a sea side village. In addition to getting along with out adults or servants, they grow to accept and appreciate one another and the ``ordinary'' people around them. Rose's friendship with an unwed mother, her observation of her sisters' romances, the diary of an Edwardian woman, a relationship in which she is sexually used, and, finally, her improbable romance with a war hero in his mid-twenties, all add to her matura tion. By observation and experience, she comes to realize the difference between love and in fatuation. She also becomes her own person as she makes the transition from an adolescent into an independent young writer. Rose is an appealing protagonist, and her self-awakening in war-torn Great Britain would have been enough for one YA novel. The background de tails ring true, from drawn-on stocking seams to rationing and food stamps. Still, Not a Swan is a cluttered novel. Readers must wade through the problems of Rose's immature sis ters, an unwed mother's struggle for respect, the abuse suffered by a former tenant of their cottage (revealed through the secret diaries), the devastation of families during wartime, and the struggle of soldiers to justify the de struction of war. Magorian dispenses with au thority figures in a contrived manner so that Rose may learn life's lessons unimpeded. The adults remain vague stereotypes. A good story line that that is weakened by unlikely coinci dences and unnecessary detail. --Lucinda Lockwood, Thomas Haney Secondary School, Maple Ridge, BC
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Magorian, Michelle
Published by Harpercollins Childrens Books
ISBN 10: 0060242140 ISBN 13: 9780060242145
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