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3.24  ·  Rating Details ·  575 Ratings  ·  73 Reviews
A haunting southern tale of long-buried family secrets by the New York Times bestselling author of Under the Tuscan Sun and Under Magnolia

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 intriguin
Paperback, 336 pages
Published August 26th 2003 by Broadway Books (first published 2002)
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Apr 20, 2011 Barner rated it it was amazing
It appears I like this novel more than other readers: I LOVED it. Francis Mayes, author of "Under the Tuscan Sun," has written a novel taking place at an archelogical dig in Itlay, a humid, small town of Swan, Georgia, and, finally, Palo Alto, Ca. A brother and sister, close in their appreciation and love for one another, are survivors of family tragedies, and the events of the book give them an opportunity to re-define their love for and understanding of their parents and their knowledge of the ...more
Jul 08, 2010 Emily rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Starts out well and remains interesting until the end when the author seems to just want to end the book. She also kept adding characters and giving them meaningless chapters. The main characters find out after 20 yrs that their mother was murdered rather than committed suicide and they are just like "whew I feel better knowing that" and just go on with their lives.
Nov 07, 2007 Dottie rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2004, own, frances-mayes
Well -- let's just say that the critiques of this book are misleading. This is a fine light, romantic Southern gothic tale of family members who don't always know the whole story and is told in Mayes usual fine style and language. Made for good reading in my opinion.
Jun 18, 2012 Leah rated it it was amazing
I absolutely LOVE all of Frances Mayes' books and this was no exception. I went into this concerned that I wouldn't love her fiction as much as I enjoy her stories of Tuscany, but what a fabulous story. The setting is Georgia after a grim discovery of a woman unearthed from her grave. The children of this woman were told she had committed suicide, but upon further discovery, it was found that she was murdered, a relief to them after so many years. The characters in this book are so well develope ...more
Jul 09, 2015 Jan rated it liked it
I love Frances Mayes non-fiction. Her Tuscany books are beautifully written. Swan is her first attempt at fiction. She should stick to non-fiction.

Not that this book was bad. It's a nice book, but nothing happens. In her non-fiction books, nothing has to happen to make a-day-in-the-life interesting. But when it comes to fiction, things have to happen to progress the story.

That's okay. I'll pick up her non-fictions and read them again and again any day.
Lynn Shurden
Oct 10, 2014 Lynn Shurden rated it it was amazing
I absolutely loved this book. The author made the transition from Italy to Georgia easy to follow, and the hint of mystery of what really happened to Catherine was never resolved in my mind. And did J.J. go back to California to pursue his love interest.? Is there another follow-up book? So many questions, which makes me more interested in following other books with this author.
May 01, 2012 L'aura rated it did not like it
Well, I didn't like it. The premise of the story is a good one perhaps, but I found the characters weak and the story disjointed. There is no "grab" to get the reader read five chapters and not find anything of interest except to catch glimpses of unrelated events. Sorry, but no vote here.
Aug 07, 2010 Lisa rated it liked it
It had some nice features, but overall it felt like the author went overboard with too, too many characters. Mayes clearly loved her story, and loved the town she created, but I failed to see the relevance of some of the people she "brought to life." It distracted me from what should have been an interesting storyline.
Apr 12, 2012 Paula rated it really liked it
Frances Mayes evokes life in the Deep South with the skill she has already used to such effect in Under the Tuscan Sun. Once again she brings to life the landscape, the people and the food with affection and at the same time unravels the events leading to the desecration of a family grave. However the mystery is not the point of the book - the people are.
Jun 18, 2012 Lisa rated it it was ok
The story itself was good, moved a liitle slowly, like a hot, humid Georgia summer, which when the story takes place. The ending however was very dissappointing, it just stopped. There were still things left unfifnshed.
Catherine Johnson
Mar 25, 2012 Catherine Johnson rated it it was amazing
What a delightful read, with characters that really grow on you and a plot that thickens the longer it goes on. This is beautifully written and I love how many delicious foods are peppered throughout, spot the cookbook author!
Aug 19, 2013 Robin rated it it was ok
I found myself asking" what's the point?". The story just didn't seem to go anywhere.
Apr 22, 2015 Lois rated it liked it
Expected to like this one more than I did
Sep 30, 2009 Karen rated it it was ok
This slow moving book recalls life in a small town in Georgia. Generations of family and friends bog down as the book progresses. Interesting in the end but a loose conclusion.
Feb 05, 2016 Penny rated it it was ok
Bit slow in parts and ending sort of unresolved...
Feb 19, 2017 Judy rated it it was ok
Took a while to get into the story. The ending dropped off and left unresolved issues.
Apr 14, 2011 Ppflieger rated it liked it
Very disappointed in the ending - seemed rather abrupt and it didn't answer the question as to who and why the body was exhumed from the grave.
Aug 29, 2009 Karen rated it it was ok
Recommended to Karen by: Holderness Bookgroup
Slow and unexciting read...and then all of a sudden it ended leaving only implied answers to all the questions posed by the plot.
May 21, 2017 Annemarie rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 08, 2010 Dianne rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2010
I love everything I have read from Frances Mayes: "Bella Tuscany", "Under the Tuscan Sun", "A Year In The World". I didn't know she had written fiction so I was excited to find this book but, and I hate to say this, I was a little disappointed.

The story line and the characters were good, but the first few chapters felt like running in water. I couldn't get going. Several times I thought about quitting and moving on to something else, but I felt an obligation to this author who had given me so mu
Sandra Nachlinger
Feb 12, 2011 Sandra Nachlinger rated it really liked it
The world of Ginger and her brother J.J. is shaken when their mother Carolina commits suicide while they are children. Now, as young adults, their mother's body is torn from her grave. In examining the body for clues that might reveal the grave robber's identity, police discover that rather than a suicide, the mother's death was a murder. Are the grave robber and the murderer the same person?

The book is set in the fictional town of Swan, Georgia. Frances Mayes' descriptions of the small town, t
Jan 20, 2015 Lindsey rated it really liked it
Swan by Frances Mayes is the story of a Southern family that has faced its fair share of tragedy and will quickly be reunited in a new mystery. Ginger and J.J. Mason's mother committed suicide when they were teens and their father dissolved into drink and then a stroke took the rest of his mind. Then their mother's body is unearthed and they learn lots of things about their family they never knew. I would say I felt mildly unresolved by the ending of this novel; however, this family and the Sout ...more
Jun 07, 2012 Estibaliz79 rated it it was ok
Nunca la profanación de una tumba resultó menos interesante... Bueno, vale, a lo mejor estoy exagerando un poquito, pero si tuviera delante a la escritora, simplemente le preguntaría: 'So... what's the point?'

Es cosa sabida que el Sur es pausado, pero una cosa es eso y otra que, en muchos aspectos, no ocurra nada. Hay montones de novelas sureñas mucho más apasionantes y que no se quedan sólo en el estilo narrativo; que en este caso no es malo, la novela se deja leer, y de ahí las dos estrellas.

Jun 08, 2010 Susan rated it really liked it
Recommended to Susan by: Rachel McPhail (recommended the author)
Frances Mayes’ primary talents are describing the setting and character development. Although the plot is weak and the ending doesn't really answer any questions, I really wanted to know as much as I could about JJ and Ginger Mason and their hometown Swan, Georgia.

As they meet together to rebury their mother JJ and Ginger must relive the events of their mother's suicide. During this tumultuous week characters are introduced and reintroduced allowing them to resolve chapters of their lives and p
Jan 28, 2010 Jane rated it really liked it
I listened to this book on tape while I took walks, over a period of about 6 weeks, and the fact that it held my attention throughout that long timespan amazes me. I liked the main characters and the story. Interestingly, the mystery is not solved at the end, so the reader is left wondering who killed Catherine, the mother of the two main characters, Ginger and JJ. Their development is what really matters.
Jul 01, 2009 Sandy rated it liked it
The troubled Southern family is the plot. The trouble revolves and radiates out from a central character who, although dead, has impacted and continues to impact the lives of the rest of the cast. Untangling the confusion about this woman's death leads to resolution for most of the rest of the cast of players. Frances Mayes is a good story teller. She has a pleasing way of constructing her stories and using words.
Heather Adkins
May 23, 2010 Heather Adkins rated it really liked it
Just as lyrically beautiful as her Tuscan memoirs, Mayes puts into words the feeling of living in small time South of the states. There are many beautiful images, quotable quotes, and characters in which I could relate. Though I was a bit disappointed in how quickly the book ended, it was another one of those reminders of how much I love Frances Mayes.
Aug 07, 2012 Jan rated it really liked it
I loved this book for summer reading. It was a page turner, was very southern reminiscent of Anne Rivers Siddon but also incorporated Italy. I'm a foodie and it contained vivid descriptions of meals. I also love fabrics, writing, fishing and art. The book had it all. A masterpiece? No, but very enjoyable.
Katherine Reaume-jackson
Aug 03, 2014 Katherine Reaume-jackson rated it really liked it
What a surprise to discover this novel by a writer who endeared so many of us to Tuscany.
The story is a sensitive and articulate exploration of the experience of family; its loyalties, foibles, mysteries and connections.
I enjoyed it and celebrate the credible genre leap successfully made by Frances Mayes.
Dec 28, 2010 Gigi rated it really liked it
I sometimes judge the quality of a book as to whether the characters stay with me. I find myself missing some of the characters from this book. I'd like to check on them and find out what they are up to now. To me, that is the mark of a great book.
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Frances Mayes's new book is Under Magnolia: A Southern Memoir , published by Crown. With her husband, Edward Mayes she recently published The Tuscan Sun Cookbook. Every Day in Tuscany is the third volume in her bestselling Tuscany memoir series.

In addition to her Tuscany memoirs, Under the Tuscan Sun and Bella Tuscany , Frances Mayes is the author of the travel memoir A Year in the Wor
More about Frances Mayes...

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“What is life but this? Choices made early in a relationship determine the course.” 1 likes
“Had his own way of praying, he had said; that old excuse. As if we were meant to be solitary. As if the church were not about holding the community together, as this sinful one needed.” 0 likes
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