Review: Island of the Swans by Ciji Ware

by Ciji Ware

There’s nothing better than discovering a new author - one that you fancy so much you must read everything they’ve ever written. This just happened to me with author Ciji Ware after reading Island of the Swans and fortunately, I won’t have to wait too long because Sourcebooks Publishing will be re-issuing her past novels – YIPPEE! They sure started off with one doozy of a historical fiction novel.

Island of the Swans tells the story of Jane Maxwell, an 18th century Scottish woman who may be an ancestor of the author herself. Raised by a firm and tenacious mother after their father separated himself from the family, Jane is the middle child and though a bit wild, she is also growing up to be quite a beauty. Her ambitious mother is determined for her to marry well to save the family from debt and to help raise their station in the all important social circles.

Jane, however, doesn’t wish to marry “well”, she wishes to marry for love…in particular, she wishes to marry her best friend Thomas Fraser. Jane and Thomas grew up together in the streets of Edinburgh and through the years the friendship has grown into a deep and unrelenting love. Though they have to fight to be together, as their guardians make it clear they would never consent to the marriage, they are both undeterred in their love for each other.

After Thomas reportedly dies fighting the Indians, Jane is courted by Alexander, the 4th Duke of Gordon – a son of the English aristocracy. Still grieving for the loss of Thomas and with her heart still full of love for him, Jane turns down Alex’s offer of marriage, knowing she will never love anyone the way she loved Thomas. But, eventually she succumbs to the pressure and finally agrees to marry him. She knows she must move on and try to make a new life for herself and Alex.

Alexander, the 4th Duke of Gordon

When Thomas returns from being not dead, he finds Jane on her honeymoon, a newly made Duchess. Needless to say, this shocking event changes everything and the drama begins! I would love to go on and on – there’s so much to this novel that I loved – but you need to read it for yourself!

Torn between loving two men, her children, her heart and her duty, Jane’s story is completely and utterly engrossing. I truly love reading about women who defy their man-made roles and follow their hearts, have minds of their own and a backbone in which to use it.

Jane Maxwell is just that type of woman. She was rival to the hugely popular and most influential woman of the day, Georgiana, the Duchess of Devonshire and close friend to Queen Charlotte. And she was far too much into politics a woman in her time had a right to be – going so far as to disguise herself as a man and attend Parliament debates. Jane has also been dubbed the “match Making Duchess” for the excellent marriages she made for her daughters – three Duchesses and a Marquis.

Jane Maxwell

In Island of the Swans, Ciji Ware transports you to another time…from pig races in the streets of Edinburgh to the court of King George III, from Gordon castle to the floor of Parliament, from the tranquil village of Kinrara to the salons of the English aristocracy, Island of the Swans is a sweeping novel of true love, lost love, duty and choice.

The combination of meticulous research and Ciji’s seemingly effortless writing make for one unforgettable, un-put-down-able novel! 

Novel Soundtrack:

Simple Together by Alanis Morisette
Northern Lad by Tori Amos

If you'd like to read more about Island of the Swans and the author's research, please read the intriguing guest post written by Ciji Ware for Passages to the Past.

If you'd like to win a copy of Island of the Swans, please enter HERE.  Giveaway ends on February 17th.




  1. It is wonderful to find a great new author, this book sounds really good. I enjoy reading strong female characters as well.
    great review!

  2. I just learned of this author today reading blogs. I am adding her to my tbr authors. I am glad they will be re-releasing her books. Great review!

  3. I've been waiting to hear your opinion of this book.
    I'm happy you enjoyed it. I look forward to reading it.
    Please enter me in the giveaway.

  4. Wow! Your review is just as breath-taking as the book itself! You said it all perfectly- and - splendidly! I love that you added the extra tid-bits of the history. Thanks Amy:)

  5. Thanks for the great review...I love to read about women that defy the rules of society!

  6. This definitely sounds like something I would enjoy. I've added it to my wish list. :) Thanks for the review, Amy.

  7. That is high praise. I love historicals so I will probably have to check this out at some point.

  8. She is an author I will definitely have to read. This book sounds like such a great read. I can't wait to get my hands on this book.

  9. Great review! I may just have to enter this giveaway :) I enjoy reading Georgian era novels!

  10. I totally want to read this one! It sounds so GOOD! I am sure I will enjoy it :)

    Great review Amy :)

  11. Amy, i think the Giveaway link is going to blogger dashboard.
    I will search for it anyway :)

  12. I love finding new authors like that! I may have to add this one to my TBR.

  13. I have read so many great reviews for this book. I really wnat to read it!

  14. Glad to see you enjoyed it. I'm reading it right now and liking it so far.

    Diary of an Eccentric


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