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Island of the Swans

3.75  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,682 Ratings  ·  153 Reviews
Part One Of Two Parts

Winner of Romantic Times Award for Best Fictionalized Biography

Jane Maxwell was passionate, powerful, and controversial. Wife to one duke, mother to another, a patron of the poet Robert Burns, advisor to King George and the subject of a portrait by Sir Joshua Reynolds. Growing up in eighteenth century Scotland, Jane Maxwell and Thomas Fraser are inse

Paperback, Large Print, 761 pages
Published December 31st 1998 by Wheeler Publishing (first published January 1989)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Can't really decide between 2 or 3 stars so have plumped for 2.5!

This wasn't a bad book, but it annoyed me in several ways:-

1. It focused primarily on the (fictitious) love triangle rather than on the lives of the real people concerned.

2. It focused on general history of the period rather than on the lives of the real people concerned.

3. It was obvious that the author had done her research and she crammed in every fact she could which often made the story unwieldy and meant that the focus was
Mar 12, 2010 Misfit rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

The story begins in 1870 in Edinburgh, Scotland. The Maxwells of Monreith are well-born but always in financial difficulty. Jane is ever the tomboy, much to the chagrin of her grasping mother who has plans to marry the blossoming beauty into a wealthy family. Jane's great friend and cohort in *crime* is Thomas Fraser and as the two grow older their friendship develops into something stronger. They hope to wed one day, although Jane's mother and Thomas' guardian Simon Fraser have other plan
Lori Anderson
This was another of my lucky Kindle finds -- I believe it was only available for a few days and then POOF, it's no longer available on Kindle. After 20 years, it was re-issued in its original length, and I'm SO VERY GLAD I bought it. Not only is it a passionate, amazing story, but it's a TRUE story.

My favorite books of all time are Diana Gabaldon's "Outlander" series, and any fans of hers will love and devour this book. First, it involves clan Fraser, and occurs right before the Revolutionary Wa
Amy Bruno
There’s nothing better than discovering a new author - one that you fancy so much you must read everything they’ve ever written. This just happened to me with author Ciji Ware after reading Island of the Swans and fortunately, I won’t have to wait too long because Sourcebooks Publishing will be re-issuing her past novels – YIPPEE! They sure started off with one doozy of a historical fiction novel!

Island of the Swans tells the story of Jane Maxwell, an 18th century Scottish woman who may be an an
Jun 26, 2011 Farin rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was sorely tempted to give this book two stars, but Ciji Ware's vivid descriptions of the political and social scene in 18th century Scotland, England, and America made me bump it up to three. 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 ...more
WHAT a disappointment.

The first 100 or so pages of the book had me completely hooked - and completely convinced this was going to be an amazing ride. The characters were so well-defined, so rich and complex, and I was really looking forward to following a story with some subtlety...nothing is more tragic than good people who just can't make each other (or themselves) happy. not what happened. First, the book just follows the same cycle over...and over...and over...and over...and over
Jul 25, 2011 Gretchen rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2011
I love reading books with strong women, and when that woman is an actual historical person, so much the better. Ciji Ware tells the story of Jane Maxwell, Duchess of Gordon, in this novel.

The history covered in this book is great. Jane lived in Scotland and England during the late 1700's. In her lifetime, she was received at George III's court, championed William Pitt to become Prime Minister, was painted by Sir Joshua Reynolds, was Robert Burns' patron, and helped raise troops to support the cr
I have to admit that I was rather distracted by my real life while reading this book. It didn't grab me and pull me in at any point, though I think the last two hundred pages or so were much more compelling that the first three hundred. I generally read a book every five days or so and this one took me two weeks. I stuck with it because the back cover made it sound so interesting and I love the period. But I didn't think it lived up to the back cover's description.
I couldn't taste the Scottish f
Aug 28, 2010 Gaile rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the story of two men who love the same woman, Jane Maxwell. Thomas Fraser grew up her in Edinburgh and knows her through and through. Alexander Gordon first saw her riding a pig when she was ten years old.
Meeting her again as a young woman, he woos her. Jane, on her part is angry at Thomas for putting his Uncle's wishes above her own.
She marries Alexander but never ceases to love Thomas. She comes to feel Alexander will never understand her as Thomas does.
Fraught with deceit, misfortune
Feb 18, 2010 Svea rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arc, favorites
This was an excellent and moving book. There are so many emotions felt as you read Jane's story. It was told in such a captivating way that you find yourself lost in the characters struggle for happiness and love. This is definitely a book I could see as an epic movie; right up there with Gone With the Wind. In the authors note at the beginning of the book, we are told that a full-length biography of Jane Maxwell does not exist. Therefore, I definitely have to give a huge thank you to Ciji Ware ...more
Nov 21, 2011 Jess rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: NO ONE!
Recommended to Jess by: my sister

Should be a great story. Is well-researched. Jane Maxwell had a very interesting life but she single-handedly ruined it.

The book is like a romance novel, sans the sex. The sex scenes are so sterile and strange.

If you want Scottish-themed historical fiction there are ton of better places to turn. (*cough* Outlander *cough*)
Feb 04, 2010 Lucy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The story of Jane Maxwell Duchess of Gordon, in the 18thc, as told by the excellent author, Ciji Ware is a masterpiece read; an epic on its own. I hadn’t really read much about this feisty Duchess who climbed to the highest rank of nobility. Fashionable, politically savvy, doting mom, business woman…but in this magnificent novel, she mostly wears her role as a love-torn woman whose soul could never find peace.

The story begins with Jane as a mischievous young girl, who defies her mother in more w
Feb 08, 2010 Jennifer rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the story of a tragic love triangle (or bizarre love triangle for you New Order fans). The characters in this story are:

*Thomas Fraser, of the Fraser Highlanders who participated in the '45 with the Young Pretender, and thus lost everything. Thomas has struggled all of his life and must join the army to make a living. He and Jane have loved each other since childhood. (And yes, theses are the same Frasers as those featured in the Outlander Series)

*Alex Gordon, the Duke of Gordon. His fam
Lady Jane Grey
May 27, 2013 Lady Jane Grey rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
For the sake of friends that may read this in the future, I won't go into much detail about my thoughts on this book and just make them vague. Why have I been writing my thoughts down so much lately, though? Anyway, this book was not how I thought it would be as far as subject/content, writing style, or length (for some reason I had thought it was on the average size but it is a more lengthy tome). For a while I was thinking it would only have three stars until I realized how much I had fallen i ...more
Allison G
Jun 19, 2013 Allison G rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow, this was the first book I've read by Ciji Ware and I *REALLY* liked it. The historical background, the true-to-history characters, and actual events were well-researched and made the book very interesting. The story was INCREDIBLE! WIthout both history and a good storyline, it just doesn't cut it as a quality piece of historical fiction for me. I found all of the characters - historical and fictional - to be quite interesting. She weaved enough story and description for me to care about all ...more
This is one book I wish I never started. What an endless cycle of the same tragedy.
A love triangle involving Jane Maxwell, her lost love Thomas and her husband Alex.
I didn't like Jane, couldn't relate to her way of thinking. Couldn't let things go and wasted what could of been a good marriage over her childhood love, Thomas.
She couldn't even empathize with her husband and his feelings of her loving someone else. What a bitch. Alex was understanding at first and then it just became a cycle of he
Elizabeth  (Thoughts From an Evil Overlord)
With Island of the Swans,Ciji Ware gives readers a sweeping historical romance of Scotlands's Jane Maxwell, the Fourth Duchess of Gordon. In love since childhood with impoverished Thomas Fraser, Jane is devastated when news reaches Edinburgh that Thomas has been killed fighting with the Black Watch regiment against the French and Indians in the American colonies. While still mourning Thomas, Jane begins to attempt to heal her heart by re-entering Edinburgh society, often in the company of Alexan ...more
Mandi Schreiner
Feb 06, 2010 Mandi Schreiner rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book follows the life of Jane Maxwell, who after her father abandons the family, her mother puts the hopes of the family into her lap. But Jane is anything but obedient. She is a free-flying, spunky soul who even from an early age is in love with Thomas Fraser. Thomas grows up never knowing his parents after they died supporting Price Charles, and losing everything in his place.

When they both reach young adulthood, they love each other yet financially they are unable to convince their paren
Aug 24, 2010 Carey rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 21, 2012 Michelle rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
(3.5 stars) Based on the actual Jane Maxwell, the 4th Duchess of Gordon, this is a fictionalized account of the actual events in her life from the mid 1700's to the early 1800's. Starting with Jane as a young child living in Scotland with her parents living separate,and consequently, somewhat impoverished lives,the Scottish are still suffering after the defeat at Culloden, which has reduced the fortunes of many of the former gentry. We see Jane as somewhat of a reckless daredevil, with her devot ...more
Author Ciji Ware’s fascinating dipiction of Jane Maxwell, the fourth Duchess of Gordon was simply breathtaking. The young passionately beautiful rebellious second daughter of the mostly absent drunken baronet Sir William Maxwell of Monreith and his overbearingly strict wife Lady Magdalene Maxwell of Blair, never ceased to amaze people with her free-thinking ideas and dreams involving her family, friends, and lovers. Jane was a young girl of ten that was inseparable from her good friend, 14-year- ...more
Oct 19, 2011 Rebecca rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book had all the ingredients for a book that I truely love; romance, history and most important of all- a strong female herione. And it didnt disappoint.

Island of the Swans takes you back to the lowlands of Scotland several years after the disasterous Culloden. It follows the life of the young and beautiful Jane Maxwell, a girl of some fortune who falls in love with Thomas Fraser who lost his lands when his family fought against the crown in 1747. Thomas leaves to fight in the colonies to r
Feb 01, 2010 Marie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own
This is such a wonderful piece of historical fiction that Sourcebooks Landmark publishers picked it up after twenty years and decided to republish it. And I am so glad that they did, because this is a story that needs to be told, but hasn't been. Based on a true story, Jane Maxwell is an infectiously delightful young lady who soon grows up to be a rival the Georgiana the Duchess of Devonshire. But how she got that way is the charm of the story. Set against the backdrop of Scotland, Ciji Ware bri ...more
So this took me awhile to read, and its not like it was bad or anything, I was just distracted.

I could spend the time in the review spoing all my excuses, but why bore you

I liked the story, and yes it kinda reminded me of the ups and downs I had to endure while reading In the Land of the Long White Cloud...very depressing, but then very hopeful one minute to the next.

The characters were well written, and I liked the fact that we got to see a little of the Revolutionary war from the British/Scot
Mar 06, 2013 Devin rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I originally found this book in seventh grade and absolutely fell in love. An 18th century setting, a tumultuous love triangel spanning the years, & royals... what more could a young girl want in a novel?

On this revisit, ten + years later it was still an interesting read, but definitely not the book that I remembered and fell so hard for.

This time around I found myself routing for the "bad guy" in the fourth Duke of Gordon, Alexander & slightly annoyed with the childhood "romance" formed
Dec 09, 2015 Nancy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very enjoyable historical romance novel. Long, but well researched and well written. It is based on real people, easily researched yourself online...and the fictionalized Thomas Fraser is a good character that adds a lot to the story. Some tedious over dramatic and repetitive themes...but all in all a good read.
Mary Anne Shew
I hadn't read anything by Ciji Ware until this book, and as it so often happens, I have no idea how it came into my hands. But I'm very glad it did. In recent years I've become fond of historical fiction, especially when it's focused on a real person and even if the author had little to go on to recreate their story. Ware did not disappoint.

The book starts in 1760. Jane Maxwell, eleven years old, is the daughter of a baronet who is drinking away the family fortune and a mother desperate to marr
I loved this book, yet it left me wanting so much more about the heroine. The book tells the story of Duchess Jane Maxwell, a woman who played a significant role in the English and Scottish aristrocracy slightly before the regency era began. Scotland was still recovering from the rebuffed attempts to regain independence and the ruling powers had shifted.

As our heroine, Jane Maxwell, grew up with Thomas Fraser, a member of a clan who was on the wrong side of the recent conflict and lost their fa
Island of the Swans is based on the life of eighteenth-century Scottish duchess Jane Maxwell. As a young girl, Jane fell in love with fictional character, Thomas Fraser, and they promise to marry each other when they are old enough. The real Jane Maxwell married Alexander, the fourth Duke of Gordon, in 1767 after the soldier she loved was reported dead in America. Rumor is that while on her honeymoon she received a letter from the soldier, very much alive, asking her to marry him. Unfortunately ...more
Rebecca Huston
Probably my favourite Ciji Ware novel. A story about a real woman, Jane Maxwell, and her tangled marriage with the Duke of Gordon, and the man that she has loved -- and lost -- in the past. Great read, lots of heartfelt emotion, and has earned a permanent spot on my keeper shelves. A five star winner.

For the complete review, please go here:
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Free Books, .99 &...: Giveaway - A Light on the Veranda by Ciji Ware 2 11 Mar 20, 2012 09:18AM  
  • The Highest Stakes
  • On a Highland Shore (Highland, #1)
  • The Time of Singing (William Marshal #4) (Bigod #1)
  • The Forever Queen (The Saxon Series, #1)
  • Blue Bells of Scotland (Blue Bells Trilogy, #1)
  • Midnight Honor (Highlands, #3)
  • Now Face to Face (Tamworth Saga, #3)
  • The Fatal Crown
  • The Scarlet Kimono
  • Lady of the Glen: A Novel of 17th-Century Scotland and the Massacre of Glencoe
  • White Rose Rebel
  • The Traitor's Wife: A Novel of the Reign of Edward II
  • Celia Garth
  • Queen Hereafter: A Novel of Margaret of Scotland
  • The Lady's Slipper
  • The Queen's Gamble (Thornleigh, #4)
  • The Remedy
  • Secrets of a Lady
Ciji Ware, a graduate of Harvard University in History, is a New York Times & USA Today bestselling author of historical and contemporary fiction, and two works of nonfiction. Her latest release is THAT WINTER IN VENICE, a "tale of two cities--Venice and New Orleans-- and the rising waters threatening a glittering ball and two globetrotting Americans seeking a port in the storm." A former radi ...more
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