The Wild Swans (Faerie Tale)
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The Wild Swans (Faerie Tale)

3.67 of 5 stars 3.67  ·  rating details  ·  244 ratings  ·  23 reviews
This novel focuses on two outcasts on two journeys in two eras. In 1689 England, Lady Eliza Grey's 11 brothers are turned into swans. Rejected by her father, Eliza is flown to America by her brothers where she has a chance to save them--until she is accused of witchcraft. In the second story, set in 1981 New York, Elias Latham has AIDS, is banished from his father's house,...more
Paperback, 464 pages
Published November 1st 2001 by Aspect (first published May 1st 1999)
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Lis Carey
Kerr tells two stories in alternating chapters, the story of Eliza, in the seventeenth century, whose stepmother has enchanted her eleven brothers so that they are swans by day and men only by night, and the story of Elias, in the early eighties in New York, whose parents have kicked him out. They're both interesting, compelling stories, and I enjoyed both them. I don't, though, see the close parallels between them that Kerr says in an afterword motivated her, beyond a rather tenuous theme of "w...more
I much preferred the modern story of Elias to that of puritan New England Eliza.

Eliza's half of the story just fell a bit flat for me. I just didn't feel I knew her and the people around her as well as I should. The typical fairy tale ending at the end of her part feels forced because of it. I know I certainly wouldn't immediately forgive someone who came minutes from hanging me!

However, what Eliza's story was good at was drawing attention to the bits of Elias's story that were thematically imp...more
This was a bit of a surprise. I started this book expecting a straightforward retelling of a fairy tale, but it was a bit more than that. While Eliza's tale certainly is what I expected, Elias's story was quite different. I don't want to spoil too much, but suffice it to say that it was more poignant and much deeper than I expected.

All in all, I though this book was really good. I enjoyed the way the different tales were interwoven. Miles apart at first, they slowly moved towards one another. W...more
Jul 04, 2008 Kim rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: lovers of fairy tale retellings or magical realism
Like Jane Yolen's Briar Rose, this book uses a fairy tale to discuss serious modern issues, in this case homophobia and living with AIDS. The book is made up of two stories told in alternating chapters: the story of Eliza, which takes place in the 17th century and follows the original Wild Swans fairy tale, and the story of Elias, which takes place in the '80s. When Elias comes out to his parents, he is thrown out on the streets, and ends up contracting AIDS. Although I love the original fairy t...more
Andee Browne
I pulled this book off a library stack on a whim; it was by an author i'd never heard of and i didn't expect much from it; instead i found myself moved almost to tears by the end both by Eliza's familiar (I was a big fan of Hans Christian Anderson's fairy tales as a kid) yet still compelling story and its counterpart set in somewhat more contemporary times, when a young man exiled from his former life finds family, friends and love within the early 1980s gay subculture of New York, only to conte...more
What an amazing book! Set in two time periods, England and New England in 1689 Eliza’s stepmother has turned her eleven brothers into swans. In New York City in the early 1980’s, Elias is rescued from living on the street after his parents kick him out of their house for being gay by Sean, a musician and writer. In both time periods the protagonists must build lives for themselves, save their brothers, and themselves. It tells a similar story to the Sevenwaters Trilogy, but that was set in somet...more
Sep 09, 2012 Ryan rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Brittany, Katherine
A good story, and interesting retelling of the Six Swans pieced together with the tale of men who began to die needlessly in the early 1980s of a mysterious disease that, at first, seemed only to strike gay men.

I enjoyed the retelling - there are 11 brothers, and they are disowned by their father as traitors, then cursed to be swans by their stepmother (who is satisfyingly horrid). Eliza is cast out for speaking on their behalf. When she finds her brothers, they strike out for the New World to...more
The book follows two separate stories: a retelling of Hans Christian Anderson's fairy tale about the twelve brothers turned into swans and their long-suffering sister and rescuer, and a love story set in the beginning years of the HIV epidemic in America. As other reviewed have written, I bought the book for the fairy tale, finished it for the love story, and was ultimately unsatisfied with the connections between them. The author's attempts to create parallelism in plot elements, names, and ton...more
What a haunting an evocative beautiful book. I couldn't put it down. It was like reading two separate stories, yet they seemed interwoven. It takes incredible talent to work different plot lines, and different characters into one book and still keep the reader's attention.
I remember well the times she wrote about in the 1980s... We had friends who lived that carefree lifestyle, never realizing until too late the fatal error. Innocence woven into decadence! This book works!

Each story was so rich...more
A retelling of the Hans Christian Andersen tale parallels the story of a 20th century young man. Both are cast out of their homes and must discover how to stay true to themselves while being persecuted by the people and circumstances around them.

UnfortunatelyI found this book difficult to get through. I was not able to connect with either of the main characters and found the supporting characters to be flat stereotypes. The pacing was a bit awkward, and the parallel story lines wer...more
Jun 04, 2011 Kerith rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Ken Rogers
Shelves: fiction, fairy-tales
A find, a buried treasure, a true beauty of a gem. I simply could not stop reading this book.
Kerr tells two stories side by side. One is a very true retelling of Andersen's fairy tale of the same name -- mostly set in Colonial America (beginning in England). The other is an early 80s "fairy" tale of a young gay man coming out to the world at the beginning of the AIDS discovery. Each story barely overlaps, yet displays subtle similarities that keep you wondering when they will meet each other. Th...more
one of my favorite books--i've bought copies for friends i thought should read it. two narratives--a retelling of a grim, though i don't recall if it's a grimm, fairy tale parallels a young man's experiences in new york in the early days of the gay community grappling with AIDS. i haven't reread it for a few years, but i recall there being several times when i was crying as read, but being so glad that i did. i think that it may resonate more for me, going to college as AIDS began and losing so...more
Maria M. Elmvang
I love this book. The two stories are weaved almost seamlessly together, with every other chapter being about Eliza and every other chapter being about Elias. The shifts never seem abrupt or disruptive, as one keeps finding parallels from one story line to the other. Names, places and events occur in both stories - some so subtle that I only notice them on my 3rd read through. It's a poignant and moving book that I'd recommend to anybody.
I floundered a little with the two storyline-structure at the beginning, but by the second half of the book the parallels became clearer and I found the transitions less jarring. I definitely found it an improvement over Kerr's debut; I'll keep an eye out for her next book, in hopes of that trend continuing.
A strange blend of two stories: the classic fairytale of the brothers turned into swans, and the rise of AIDS in 1980s New York.
Gwen (The Gwendolyn Reading Method)
I liked the story set in modern times, but the fairy tale portion read very stilted. I got 3/4s of the way through :/
Interesting - book swings back and forth between modern day AIDS patients and colonial period 'Swan Princes'
OK, it started kind of depressing, but by the end, I was hooked. Beautiful, heartbreaking book.
One of those books its hard to say if I like or hate.
The Wild Swans by Peg Kerr (2001)
The Fairy Godmother
Based on The Wild Swans.
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