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The Wild Swans

3.66  ·  Rating details ·  347 Ratings  ·  37 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
Feb 20, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: f-sf, lit-fic
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
Jennifer W
Apr 03, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: back-and-forth
This book has been on my TBR since I joined goodreads, about 5 years ago. I wasn't sure if I would like it, if it would be too melodramatic or too overdone, but it was wonderful. Elias' and Eliza's stories overlap and are used well to make points about silence and fear. About finding families where you least expect them. Even about loving the people who are eventually going to kill you. I don't really remember the HCA fairy tale of The Wild Swans, but I like the Puritan witchcraft angle of this ...more
Melanti
Jan 10, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Monique
Aug 08, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
Kim
Jul 04, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
Kathy
Overall, this book in its entirety didn't touch me.

However, the two stories, told in alternating chapters, did. I enjoyed reading both Eliza's story (based on Hans Christian Andersen's "The wild swans") from the 1600s and Elias' story from the 1980s. The story of the early days of the AIDS epidemic were particularly moving; I am of the age that I was in my 20s-30s during that decade and remember what a death sentence AIDS was to so many of our generation. I remember the fear many heterosexuals h
...more
Macpudel
Jul 03, 2017 rated it liked it
I didn't read the cover blurb very carefully when I picked this one up. I was more captivated by the historical setting and the fairy tale. So - no time travel romance here between gay Elias and Eliza of the bespelled brothers. Elias' story is tragic, and the story of the AIDS epidemic of the 1980s needs to be told more, as it devastated a generation of gay men and hemophiliacs. However, it has very little to do with the tale of Eliza and her brothers which is more of a retelling of a classic fa ...more
Ryan
Oct 16, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
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
Julia
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
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Peg Kerr was born in a Chicago suburb, moved to Minnesota to attend St. Olaf College, and has stayed in Minnesota ever since.

With $50.00 from her first paycheck, she registered for a science fiction and fantasy writing class. There, she met her husband and wrote the first story she ever sold. In hindsight, this is all quite pleasant consolation for the fact that she was fired from her job the day
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