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3.2 of 5 stars 3.20  ·  rating details  ·  447 ratings  ·  60 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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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
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.
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.
Lynn Shurden
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.
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
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.
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.
Catherine Johnson
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 10, 2010 Dianne rated it 2 of 5 stars
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
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
Katherine Reaume-jackson
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.
Virginia Albanese
Read this a month ago and had to read the review to remember the story. Indicative of story or my age? Interesting twists to the story and Southern characters made it interesting.
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 4 of 5 stars
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
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.
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.
Heather Adkins
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.
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.
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.
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.
Good story not overly developed. She kept adding characters that didn't have much to do with anything. When they find out earth shattering news they act like that's great and they just go on. She just wraps things up in a neat bow at the end and the all go on to live happy lives.
This was ok, the mystery was interesting, but the author is not your typical mystery writer so it was not as compelling as that genre usually is. If you liked her other books, her writing is similar and provides a lot of detail about the characters and locale.
really hard to get into, but Im glad I stuck it out. Once I got into it more, I enjoyed the book. a fun read, a little mystery that was well done. I liked getting to see the clues a long the way, but still not quite sure how it all worked together
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.
After really enjoying Frances Mayes Tuscany books, just had to add this one to my collection. I've always loved quirky southern characters and Swan certainly fit the bill. Love her writing style anyhow and wasn't disappointed in this work of fiction
Amanda Gurria
So far it's doing a nice job of keeping me interested. I really like how Mayes transferes from one characters mind to another so smoothly. A lot of authers I think really struggle with making that understandable and not jarbled.
Jane Dugger
This was really quite wonderful. So many layers, so much to ponder and discuss. I think this may become a yearly read. It was almost a string of short stories fantastically woven together.

Brava Ms Mayes!
i wasn't sure what to expect from the first novel by Frances Mayes. while i love her non-fiction work, i was worried i would hate her fiction work. not so! i loved this novel . . . hope she writes more : )
The story is of a brother and sister, how the suicide of their mother affected their lives. When their mother's grave is disturbed, questions regarding her unexpected death are finally answered.
Carole Coleman
Jun 09, 2013 Carole Coleman added it
Shelves: novel, own
I bought this book at Goodwill in Smyrna
several years ago because I had recently read her book "Under The Tuscan Sun"
I really liked that book but I did not like this book. It was too wordy.
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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 Worl
More about Frances Mayes...
Under the Tuscan Sun Bella Tuscany A Year in the World: Journeys of a Passionate Traveller In Tuscany Every Day in Tuscany: Seasons of an Italian Life

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“What is life but this? Choices made early in a relationship determine the course.” 0 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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