Oct 31, 2009

About Books Blog 13: A Company Of Swans


Author: Eva Ibbotson
Genre: Young Adult/Romance/Historical Fiction

Favorite Line

"An intelligent dancer and God knows it's rarely enough that one sees a body intelligently used."


Harriet Morton is trapped within the confines of living with her strict father and aunt, who are pressuring her into becoming engaged to the incredibly dull Edward Finch-Dutton. Harriet's only freedom comes from her ballet classes. When she is invited to join a touring ballet company, she discovers a way to escape forever. Harriet runs away with the company to the strange world of the Amazon. There she falls in love with the mysterious Rom, unaware of that her family has sent Edward to track her down.

What I Thought About This Book

Yet again, I was suckered into buying the book the moment I saw the word ballet in the summary, accompanied by a picture of a girl in a tutu on the cover. Someday this obligation to buy every fictional novel about dancers, is going to cause me to buy a truly terrible novel. Fortunately this event has not yet occurred.

A Company Of Swans turned out to be a fabulous story. Not only did it have quality dance moments, but it had an element of intrigue as well. Ibbotson did a wonderful job at making sure every scene in the book propelled the story. There was never a dull moment. Even when I was reading elements of the sub-plot I was entertained. I thought the author was very skilled at using even the smallest characters to set a scene.

I do have some advice for the non-ballet dancing reader. The author does not bother explain what all the ballet moves are in the book. If you start reading and you are suddenly seeing a whole bunch of ballet terms don't worry. I promise you will still love the novel, even if you don't know what a tendu or a port de bras is. I'm going to give you a link to some ballet resources that include explanations as well as pictures and videos of the ballet steps that appear in the book. Just in case you want to know what the ballet steps the author refers to look like.

Facts I Found Interesting

From reading the book I learned that The Nutcracker ballet is also sometimes called Casse Noisette. What a shiny fact. I would have never known that if I hadn't read this book.

The Movie

I wish there was a film. Oh please, somebody do a film of this book. If I were a filmmaker, I would love to direct it.

Ballet Resources

Ballet Vocabulary Links

American Ballet Theater - Ballet Dictionary


About the Ballets Performed
In A Company of Swans

Listed below are short summaries of ballets mentioned in the book. I have included links to Wikipedia for those of you the want more detailed descriptions. I also tried to find video clips of ballet scenes specifically described in the book.

Swan Lake

Swan Lake is a ballet based on the both Russian folktales and a German legend, which tells the tale of Odette, a princess turned into a swan by an evil sorcerer.

Swan Lake Facts From Wiki

Video Clips

1. Pas de Quatre of the Small Swans

2. von Rothbart's Victory

The second clip includes the famous multiple fouettes done by the Black Swan. It also contains the short appearance of the White Swan, which the lead character Harriet is asked to dance in the novel.


The ballet tells the story of a young girl Giselle, who must protect her love from the vengeance of female spirits called the Wilis.

Giselle Facts From Wiki

Video Clip

Giselle As Wili

I don't recall any scenes from this ballet referred to specifically, but I thought it would be fun to show you what the Wilis look like.

La Fille Mal Gardee

Lise and Colas are in love. However, Lise mother, Widow Simone, wants Lise to marry the dimwitted Alian. The Widow Simone does everything in her power to keep Lise and Colas apart, but is unsuccessful.

La Fille Mal Gardee Facts From Wiki

Video Clips

1.The Maypole Dance

2.Dance of the Cock and Hens

3.Lise Mimes Married Life

I had never heard of this ballet until I read the book. I have to say it looks like it's hilarious. On the third video you have to skip four minutes in to see the actual scene mentioned in the book. I tried to find just that scene but it was taking me forever.

Casse Noisette (a.k.a The Nutcracker)

The story of a young girl named Clara who dreams of a nutcracker prince, a mouse king, and a kingdom of sweets.

The Nutcracker Facts On Wiki

Video Clip

Waltz of The Snowflakes

In the book Harriet is casted as a snowflake.

Music To Read By

Favorite Albums

I read most of this book while listening to the score of Swan Lake. It is a beautiful score. I highly suggest it.

A Company Of Swans Playlist

The titles of some of these songs are so painfully difficult and long to spell, I think I'm just going to post the player and let you read the titles from there. I know this seems lazy, but I can't spell English very well, and that is my own language. I don't think it is a good idea for me to type more than two words in other languages. The only reason I've made it thus far is because of the beauty of copy and paste. Plus, considering the amount of links on here I think I'm allowed a tiny bit of laziness. Haha.

Well that all folks! Happy Halloween!

Next About Books Blog: The Visitation by Frank Peretti


Nina said...

I loved reading this review. I just enjoyed it. I think i have read a few books about dancing, ballet and i did enjoyed it. This one does sounds very interesting.



Camryn said...

I love your review. It contained helpful links and everything. I'll definitely check this site out again.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

I adored this book...if I knew someone who could make a film, or could do one myself, I would! It would really be a dream come true, as it would just translate so well in to a film! The book itself is very visual, not like some books where the words invoke a powerful meaning, but it might not come across as good on screen. It was such a powerful book, that really struck a chord with me, yet I am certain that it could just go straight to screne: no scenes are unnessecary or uneffective visually, and none should need to be added. It is perfect as it is! :)

Wow. Just thinking about it gets me excited. I can just imagine how it should be...how frustrating that no-one has made one! I have read all of Eva Ibbotson's young adult novels, I advise you check them out if you haven't already! They all run along a similar theme, but are equally very different in their own way.

Apologies for this horrifically long comment, but I am on the edge of petitioning for this film to made ;) (I'm half serious :) )