The Swan House
by Elizabeth Musser
Trade Paperback: 448 pages
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers
Released: July 1, 2001
Source: Bought through Half.com.
Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
Sixteen-year-old Mary Swan Middleton has always taken for granted the advantages of her family's wealth. But a tragic plane crash that touches all of Atlanta threatens to crush her in grief for her lost mother.
When the family maid challenges her to reach out to the less fortunate as a way to ease her own pain, Mary Swan meets Carl. He is her opposite in nearly every way--he's black, poor, and struggling against the racism so present in 1962. She asks for his help to uncover a mystery about a lost painting of her mothers and ends up learning far more than she ever could have imagined.
Swan House is a historical set in 1962 in Atlanta, Georgia. Segregation was being broken down, but prejudice and violence against blacks was still very present. Vivid descriptions about the place, time, and people brought the story alive in my imagination.
The characters were engaging, had depth, and reacted to things in realistic ways. The low level of suspense came from relationship tensions--romantic, family, and racial. While not depressing, it's not a light-hearted story. Mary Swan goes through so much pain due to losing loved ones, her naivete, and learning some new, hard things about her mother.
There was a strong Christian element, and it flowed naturally as a part of the story. Mary Swan went to church all of her life, but she's challenged by the devotion she sees in a white woman who gave up a life of privilege to serve among the poor. Mary Swan is afraid God will ask her to do something like that, so she doesn't want to get any closer to God, but she is curious about the strong faith she sees.
There was a very minor amount of explicit bad language. There was no sex. Overall, I'd highly recommend this novel.
If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.
Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.