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They Came Like Swallows
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They Came Like Swallows

4.03  ·  Rating Details ·  1,152 Ratings  ·  176 Reviews
In the Morison house the important goes unsaid and indirection is the operative mode--conversation stops where it should start and key terms such as fear, pain, pregnancy, fail to be addressed. The younger son, an eight-year-old, passes his days deciphering adults' inaccessible discussions. "In this fashion they communicated with each other, out of knowledge and experience ...more
Published December 28th 2000 by Harvill Press (first published 1937)
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Dec 21, 2014 Fionnuala added it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Fionnuala by: Tony
Shelves: reviewed-in-2015

I hadn't the least suspicion that this was the perfect book to read right after I’d completed a long Virginia Woolf season but my reading life has a way of finding connections in spite of me. Having finally finished with Woolf last week, I searched my book pile for something I thought would be completely different and this slim little book by William Maxwell caught my eye. It's a book I’d been meaning to read since last year when a friend recommended it, and other than remembering vaguely that i
Diane Barnes
Jan 25, 2017 Diane Barnes rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I cannot believe that in a long lifetime of reading, this is the first book I've read by William Maxwell. SO my kind of book. Basically the story of a family dealing with each other and themselves during the 1918 Spanish Flu epidemic. Probably not for plot-centric readers, but for those liking interior dialogue and growth of characters, this is a jewel.
Dec 20, 2014 Tony rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fionnuala
Recommended to Tony by: Teresa
Shelves: wwi, u-s-lit
One British, one French, one German. Three novels, one from each of those countries. Three perspectives of the First World War. The moment I read that I thought what a wonderful idea, circling the conflict, a century removed. Real life reading friends were impressed when I suggested it as our group project for 2015. Oh, I could have, should have, credited Fionnuala, but to my reading chums that would have just been a lovely name. They would have missed the inspiration, the Muse that she is.

I was
Sep 30, 2013 Teresa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Though not the masterpiece So Long, See You Tomorrow is, this much earlier work of Maxwell's contains many of the elements that seem to haunt much of his writing: the effect of the 1918 flu epidemic on his family and their small Illinois community, and his relationships with his older brother and their father.

The narrators are the three males of the family, but the mother is the center of their lives, and of this slim novel, too. The story is passed down, like a reversed legacy, from 8-year-old
Diane S ☔
Dec 28, 2013 Diane S ☔ rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Bunny is eight years old in the late 1910's, the war has ended and he and his family live in a small Midwestern town, Bunny is our narrator for the first part of this novel. This is not really a coming of age novel, though it does include two young children. The Spanish Flu is rearing its ugly head and causing devastation in many, many places, people are being told to stay home. This is not a novel about the Spanish Flu either, though it does play a significant part of this story.

This is the sto
Jan 18, 2016 Carmo rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: norte-americanos
Revi-me na infância, e reconheci todas as birras que fiz e o porquê de alguns comportamentos que tive.
Constatei que, talvez em determinadas ocasiões, não tenha dado o devido valor a algumas pirraças dos meus filhos.
Como mãe, senti com um misto de dor e ternura, porque é que temos de ser a cola que une todas as pontas.

Um livro sem estória mirabolante, sem personagens recambolescas, mas que é um espelho, um reflexo de cada um de nós desde as pequenas dores de crescimento até às sábias provas de vi
Jun 02, 2013 Diane rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a beautiful and bittersweet novella this is. It's the story of an Illinois family who suffers through the 1918 flu epidemic. The first chapter is told from the viewpoint of the 8-year-old son, Bunny, who is an imaginative and anxious little boy. He desperately loves his mother and is afraid of his stern father. Bunny looks up to his older brother, Robert, who is mean and rarely condescends to play with him. The second chapter is from the perspective of 13-year-old Robert, who is a rambuncti ...more
Dec 20, 2014 Mary rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, 2015
This is an extremely dreary and subtle novel that touched upon (though didn’t quite fully develop) the loss a child feels when he loses his mother, and the emptiness one feels when a spouse dies.

Brothers, aged 8 and 13, struggle to connect with each other and to relate to the world around them, and it’s all in that unspoken, time-gone-by way of boys and toy soldiers and farms and summers. They both have that deep-seated craving for mother’s love, and both feel the sting of favoritism and jealous
Celeste Corrêa
“Quando eu era criança , falava como uma criança, entendia o mundo como uma criança…..mas quando me tornei homem acabei com as coisas de criança”. – Coríntios 13:11

Como é difícil crescer e libertarmo-nos dos nossos cordões umbilicais.

A andorinha é uma ave migratória monogâmica, ou seja, possui um parceiro durante toda a vida e, por esse motivo, está associada ao amor. É conhecida como "ave da partida e do regresso".

Com uma magnífica epígrafe de um poema de W.B.Yeats “Vieram como andorinhas” nar
Allie Riley
Sep 21, 2013 Allie Riley rated it it was amazing
I love William Maxwell's writing. Simple, direct & evocative. He is able to conjure up vivid pictures with the sparsest of sentences. This little book is beautiful and compulsive reading (I got through it in just over 2 hours), despite its tragic subject matter. Set at the time of the Spanish Flu outbreak it focuses on the Morison family and how they are directly affected by it. Maxwell seems to have a wonderful understanding of how children think (he reminds me of Esther Freud in that respe ...more
Jun 03, 2013 Teresa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, n-usa, e5
...folhas e folhas de papel escritas, riscadas, rasgadas e amachucadas...e nada para partilhar...porque não há palavras que descrevam a Perfeição...

Vieram como andorinhas e como andorinhas se foram,
E, porém, a força de uma mulher
Pôde manter uma andorinha na sua rota.
E meia dúzia em formação,
Como o rodopio de uma agulha de bússola,
Encontrou certeza no ar sonhador...

W. B. Yeats
Cátia Santos
Nov 28, 2015 Cátia Santos rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Muito bem escrito e sentimentos que nos são tão familiares fazem deste um livro perfeito. A simplicidade com que o autor retrata esta família é assustadoramente próxima de qualquer um de nós. Muito bom!
May 30, 2015 Jeanette rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Marvelous family study of a place, time and a crucible of change. You are cored here within the eyes of the youngest, the oldest son, the father. Love for the mother and each other real life expressed within their own physical and cognitive realities. And quite beyond the emotions or deeply affectionate loving care.

The most appreciated feature of Goodreads experience for me has been introduction to masterful authors of the past who I have somehow entirely missed. William Maxwell is absolutely on
Jul 26, 2015 Josh rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Josh by: Mary
Shelves: 2015
(4.5) With this being my first exposure to William Maxwell, I was expecting something highly emotional and well written. Getting through the first three quarters of this book, I had yet to see anything of true emotion, but once I saw it, it was seen and I couldn't get enough of it. I don't think I've read a book that has went from a 2-3 star to a 4-5 star so quickly within just a few pages, much less a couple paragraphs. Despair is Maxwell's niche and it worked for me. Of all his writings, I'm g ...more
Ana Lúcia
May 31, 2014 Ana Lúcia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Agrada-me muito chegar a livros inesperadamente…
Este veio parar-me às mãos depois de ter “tropeçado” nele numa divisão da minha casa. Por aqui, como que por magia, os livros brotam como cogumelos…
Abençoado tropeção!
Existem muitos livros bons. Os livros perfeitos são raríssimos, este é um deles.
Oct 30, 2015 Sarah rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Beautifully written, bittersweet novella.
Laura Leaney
Jul 09, 2010 Laura Leaney rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a gorgeous book. The writing feels effortless; each word and every sentence is simple, yet the effect is a luxury of acute observation and depth of feeling. Reading it was like walking into the warmth of beautifully loved parlor, full of polished furniture, a ticking clock, thick rugs, and a mother, hemming diapers, whose smile could heal all your wounds.

The book is set in 1918 during the great flu pandemic, and involves the Morison family. The first section is told from the point of vie
Rahim Manji
Mar 24, 2010 Rahim Manji rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It has to be said from the beginning that this is not a dazzling or startling book. It doesn't have any bangs. But what it does have is the wisdom that comes from noticing the day-to-day activities of family life. I read somewhere (on an Amazon review, I think) that Eileen Battersby, a critic, said that Maxwell had the gift of illuminating the "unspoken but faintly understood." I nod in agreement. And add that he has the gift of distilling, shaping, and articulating thoughts that have passed inc ...more
João Carlos
Sep 05, 2014 João Carlos rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: l2014, favorites
O romance “Vieram Como as Andorinhas” foi editado em 1937 pelo escritor norte-americano William Maxwell (1908-2000).
Um “pequeno” grande romance sobre a família Morison, num retrato emocionante - que decorre no final da Primeira Guerra Mundial e no período em que a Gripe Espanhola, se espalhou pela América - centrado numa pequena cidade no Illinois.
“Vieram Como as Andorinhas” está dividido em três livros: Livro I “Quem é o meu anjo?”, sob o olhar inseguro e ansioso de Bunny, com oito anos de ida
Feb 18, 2015 Denise rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The story takes place in a midwestern Illinois town in 1918 and begins on the day before the armistice. The Spanish Influenza is rampant, and the Morison family copes the best they can. The story is told from the points of view of 8 year old Bunny, his older brother, Robert, and their father, James. This is a very close loving family. I won't say more about the plot because I don't want to ruin it.

The writing is so pure and perfect, the characters so well drawn. The author took a fairly simple s
Rosa Ramôa
Sep 26, 2014 Rosa Ramôa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Sobre afectos e as razões que explicam determinados comportamentos...
Há sempre razões para as pessoas serem como são!!!

Vieram como andorinhas e como andorinhas se foram,
E, porém, a força de uma mulher
Pôde manter uma andorinha na sua rota.
E meia dúzia em formação,
Como o rodopio de uma agulha de bússola,
Encontrou certeza no ar sonhador..

Uma andorinha pode fazer a primavera*
Angela Young
Oct 06, 2012 Angela Young rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book: its impact is so much greater than its deceptively simple prose and brevity. I thought the difference between the three voices was expertly done: the young boy was quite different from the teenager who was different again from the father. They all lived ... and live on in my mind and heart.

I also loved the way that the house, its clocks and rugs and curtains and wallpapers were characters in their own right, particularly in Bunny’s part: as if they had the capacity to take on
Nov 22, 2015 Ali rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I wonder whether I could say too much about They Came like Swallows – I think there is an inevitability to certain events that the reader expects from the very first page, in a sense I don’t think there are any surprises or shocks. If you happen to be reading this novella currently however, perhaps you better not read any further than this until you are finished.

Illinois 1918 and Elizabeth Morison is an ordinary middle class wife and mother – a wife and mother like so many others, but of course,
Tyler Jones
May 22, 2012 Tyler Jones rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I don't know about you, but I find that my favorite book by an author is often the first one I read by him or her. I think So Long, See You Tomorrow will always be my favourite William Maxwell work but it is a book he wrote over forty years earlier, They Came Like Swallows, that many contend is his greatest work. It is hard to argue. The story revolves around an eight-year-old boy living in a small mid-western farming community when the 1918 influenza epidemic hits, taking the lives of many incl ...more
Book Concierge
3.5 stars. Our book club had an interesting discussion of the complex book, which at first glance we expected to be similar to our previous month’s read ("Crow Lake"), but which was really very different. We talked about whether the age in which it was written (and about which it was written) was partly the cause, or whether it was the author’s gender. (We found "Crow Lake," written by a woman, more engaging.) We thought Maxwell’s own history of having lost his mother at a young age affected how ...more
Thing Two
Jun 11, 2011 Thing Two rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
They came like swallows is the beginning of a poem by Yates which speaks to the importance of a loving mother, and it is the loss of this loving mother to influenza in 1918 which each of the characters in this book - two sons and a husband - will address. This is based loosely on Maxwell's own life; his mother also died in 1918 of influenza.
Ayelet Waldman
All those 'lyrical' young writers should be force-fed a diet of William Maxwell. Genius without excess.
Fernando Hernández
Jan 31, 2017 Fernando Hernández rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017
La novela del también editor William Maxwell (Lincoln, Illinois 1908 - † N. York 2000), se manifiesta como un sentido homenaje a su madre.

La figura de la madre, Elizabeth, domina todo el libro; ella centraliza toda la familia Morison. En la narración también sobrevuela la terrible epidemia de la denominada "gripe española".

Articulado en tres partes, narradas cada una por el resto de miembros de la familia: Bunny, el hijo pequeño de ocho años (alter ego de Maxwell), Robert, el hermano mayor, de t
Marco Caetano
Feb 14, 2012 Marco Caetano rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Veja a minha opinião no blogue:

De vez em quando sabe-me bem chegar à estante de livros e escolher um livro do qual pouco ou nada sei. Apenas porque me apetece!
Vieram como andorinhas foi um desses casos. Já tinha ouvido falar de William Maxwell uma vez ou outra, mas nunca de nenhuma obra em concreto, nem tão pouco de qual o seu género literário.

Nesta obra, Maxwell revela-se um autor de afectos. No seio de uma família burguesa americana, no rescaldo da prime
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William Keepers Maxwell Jr. was an American novelist, and fiction editor at the New Yorker. He studied at the University of Illinois and Harvard University. Maxwell wrote six highly acclaimed novels, a number of short stories and essays, children's stories, and a memoir, Ancestors (1972). His award-winning fiction, which is increasingly seen as some of the most important of the 20th Century, has r ...more
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“Satin and lace and brown velvet and the faint odor of violets. That was all which was left to him of his love.” 4 likes
“It was the unexpected that happened, always.” 0 likes
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