The Wild Swan

REVIEW The Wild Swan

According to a sensational West End play the Victorian children's writer Dorothea Harding was no dowdy maiden aunt but the passionate participant in a torrid tragic romanc.


E It is the task of Roy Collins to turn the play into an eually popular film Dorothea's descendents have only weak objections to the misuse of their relation's private pas.

Margaret Kennedy ´ 1 CHARACTERS

T they need money than dignity But Roy has misgivings and when a set of revealing letters are discovered he begins to feel that the truth might be important than the story.

3 thoughts on “The Wild Swan

  1. says:

    Back in the 1920s Margaret Kennedy’s second novel ‘The Constant Nymph’ was a huge huge success It was one of the bestselling novels of the decade it became a successful stage play and then Margaret Kennedy was called upon to write a screenplay That led her to work in Britain’s film industry and that experience underpins this novelRoy Collins had been smitten with photography and cinema since boyhood and when he grew up he set about working his way up in the cinema business He had secured a job working on scripts for BBB – Blech Bernstein BritishDorothy Harding had been a Victorian novelist She had never married but she had supported her family writing moral tales that were popular in their day but would uickly be forgotten Dorothy would have been forgotten had her diary and her poems not come to light after her death They revealed a very different side of the author and literary critic Alec Mundy published a book suggesting that the ‘G’ Dorothy wrote of with such passion was the man that she had loved and her sister had married Playwright Adelaide Lassiter had taken that theory and turned it into a grandly romantic film that had become a huge hit and was going to be turned into a filmAnd that was where Roy came inHe had an uneasy feeling about the job He was disappointed that the Harding family were only interested in the income that that film would bring them he was interested that the there was such love for the author in the countryside around her home and he began to wonder if the critic and the playwright had got things wrongRoy was right The story stepped back into the past to tell Dorothy’s storyThe earlier chapters had been wonderful A lovely introduction as Roy visited the schoolteacher aunt who had understood him better than his parents ever had and spoken with her about what he was doing set the story up beautifully The gentle but knowing satire of the film business was so very well down And Harding family living in genteel poverty in a run down country house uite oblivious to the fact that the world had changed were captured beautifullyThe interlude in the past was even finer; I thought that I might have met the loveliest Victorian novelist I had encountered before; I realised that Margaret Kennedy had planned her story so very very cleverlyDorothy’s real story was much deeper much moving than the story that the critic and the playwright had spun; and yet it was understandable that they had drawn the conclusions that they did Dorothy had grown from an imaginative child into an intelligent woman but her life had been sheltered she was naïve about so any things and her family and others had exploited that and her good natureMargaret Kennedy’s work is informed by her love of Jane Austen but Dorothy’s story suggests that she knew and loved the Brontes too Roy loved his job but he knew that he had to do the right thing; he had to clear Dorothy’s reputation of the romantic fantasy the poet and playwright had concocted even if it did cost him his jobI loved that way that the story played out The playwright was disappointed that the truth failed to live up to her romantic fantasy but she decided that she had to represent her heroine honestly That was lovely The film company and the leading lady pulled back from the project That was understandable And the critic – who surely should have done a little research and a little less speculating – was determined to suppress the truth and preserve his reputation That was worryingMargaret Kennedy is wonderfully clear sighted and unsentimental and not at all judgemental She just presents that characters and tells the story and yet I knew that she knew And I agreedI loved Roy I loved Dorothy and I loved the way their stories were woven togetherThis proved to be a story for the head and the heartThere is much to reward careful reading; lovely details allusions and themes that echo through Margaret Kennedy’s workAnd the story of an woman whose reputation many are ready to tarnish who accepts what life offers her and finds peace is both moving and memorable

  2. says:

    I feel bad giving only three stars to a book with so few reviews by a writer I love and a book with so much going for it But I vowed to rate purely by how much I like a book and this one left me unsatisfied I love the setup and the characters I even like the use of the just miss romance which reminds me strongly of the one in Lucy Carmichael which I loved And it was a wonderful show not tell of the toll sexism patriarchy etc have taken on female artists or rather would have been female artists and their lost never produced worksBut I just didn't enjoy the book as much as I wanted to I felt we found out too many of the answers about Dorothea's real life too early and then had to wait a long time for the characters to figure them out I also found the ending anti climactic and lacking in interest I cared passionately what happened to Dorothea when she was alive but that was settled uite early It was just a matter of seeing how that played out I couldn't sustain much narrative tension for whether or not the silly movie got made Her reputation had already been dragged in the dust twice by Mundy's book and Adelaide's play I suppose it's nice that her letters will be published but it doesn't help her much at this point It does apparently help our protagonist Roy but I didn't like him as much as I think we are supposed to so I'm not too excited about that eitherThere were a couple other small things that interfered with my enjoyment of the book One was Roy's apparent psychic connection with Dorothea from the very beginning It didn't seem to fit the tone of the book and I don't understand the purpose Another is maybe just my dullness but I don't understand why Roy destroyed the one letter or why that detail was included And I'm not clear what if anything she meant to convey by the timing of the Reverend's death Still I'm very glad I read the book and I enthusiastically recommend it despite my three stars I will almost certainly re read it at some point Perhaps I will like it better then

  3. says:

    The Wild Swan opens with Roy Collins a 25 year old cynic with immense talent who works for BBB Blech Bernstein British as a script writer He is ambitious and wants to become a director but knows that the road to that position is not easy and compromises have to be made to reach it He has developed a style of smooth talking and a sham personality to get along with everyone and get everything done without any authenticity of character His current assignment brings him to Bramstock where he is to assist play right Adelaide Lassiter and critic Alec Mundy put together a script on the life of Dorothea Harding Dorothea was a Victorian novelist who wrote prim romantic novels set is historical backdrop which were a great success in her days but now are complete forgotten It was believed until about 20 years ago that she led a completely blameless as well as color less life until Mundy uncovered some of her poetry and a diary based on which he wrote a book claiming hidden passions and sinful love for Grant who was Dorothea Harding sister’s husband Based on this book Adelaide Lassiter wrote a play and this play was now basis of the film Dorothea Harding’s current family the owners of Bramstock are not particularly interested in how their relation is portrayed as long they can get the money for allowing filming on the estate Roy himself is not much interested in the work – he has never read any of Dorothea Harding’s work nor is he really concerned with what gets presented on the celluloid as long as he can get his job done and get back to BBB headuarters and pursue his ambition However certain incidents and discovery of some new letters force Roy to realize that not everything is as it seems and the truth runs deeper than it initially appeared and this one time it is imperative to bring the truth forward regardless of the cost – even if it impacts his ultimate dreamsThe plot is wonderful you are plunged write into the truth of Dorothea Harding’s life but in a distinctive narrative style it takes a while for the readers to actually put the whole jigsaw puzzle together and the ending which is so simple that it becomes extraordinary in a landscape of unreal or fairy tale like climactic endings The characterizations which I now realize is Ms Kennedy’s core strength blew me away Dorothea Harding lovely spirited and free is woman after my heart Her hopes and ambitions belie the norms of her society and when her plans are thwarted still has the moral courage to go on and continue to be good and generous Roy is absolutely wonderful a good boy turned jaded soul turned honest man; you feel the triumph of human spirit when he decides to follow the truth despite all odds The only character I could not warm up to was Cecilia Harding but then I think Ms Kennedy wanted us to feel that way about her and I do understand the frustration of being immensely gifted and not being able to use it because of lack of fund My favorite character was Adelaide Lassiter – she alone stands for all that is innocent brave and honest She may not be the smartest or the wisest but she knows what is right and never a moment not even at the very peak of her success does she lose sight of that The language as always is wonderful and I could uote lines after lines from the book but will contend myself with only a few – “Why should I be loaded with luxuries I don’t care for and be denied the one thing for which I crave – my leisure?” “I think she meant that happiness is really a prison and our gaolers are our preferences We think we like one person or one place better than another We regret the past and we fear the future But to a broken heart all places are the same there is the same grief to be encountered everywhere And time is not important” Wow The book is filled with such che ching and the coin dropped momentsWhat a joy you are to read Ms Kennedy

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