Tag Archives: Magic

Swan Gondola


Title: The Swan Gondola

Author: Timothy Schaffert 

Publisher: Riverhead, 2014 

Summary/Review: When I decided to read this book, I thought the subject was the 1898 Worlds Fair in Omaha Nebraska.  I also thought it was going to be similar to  “The Devil in the White City”, a fantastic book about the Chicago World’s Fair.  It was not at all like the “Devil in the White City” in that the Fair is only a back drop, the story is purely fictional, and if examined more closely, it could be a take-off of “The Wizard of Oz.”   Quirky would be a good word to describe it.

FYI:  I wondered if there was even a Omaha World’s Fair.   This is a description that I found:

There were 11 large, white buildings and dozens of smaller ones surrounding a giant lagoon on which lovers could take gondola rides. There was a miniature railroad, an exhibit of “horseless carriages” — a forerunner to the automobile — exotic dancers from the Middle East, a street scene from Cairo, strange fortune tellers roaming the midway, ostriches pulling carriages, food and clothing from around the world and, last but not least, an exhibit that showcased babies sleeping in incubators.


The “Swan Gondola” is the love story of Ferret, a ventriloquist, and Cecil, a beautiful actress, who meet at the Omaha World’s Fair and fall in love. There is much magic, crazy science, and undying love to make a good love story.  People who liked “Night Circus” may like this book.

As an aside, the book both begins and ends with the importance of a librarian’s influence over Ferret’s life.   I enjoyed the symmetrical bookends.

Who would like this book? Someone who’s looking for something a little different.

If you like this, try this: “Night Circus” by Erin Morgenstern

Recommended by: Sue Z, Reference Librarian

If this looks like a book you’d like to read, visit the Fairfield Public Library catalog to see if it’s available and/or to place a hold!


Peach Keeper


Title: The Peach Keeper

Author: Sarah Addison Allen

Publisher: Bantam Books, 2011

Summary/Review: Ever since Willa Jackson moved back to her Southern hometown of Walls of Water she has chosen to lead a quiet life away from society’s rich townspeople and the disgrace of her family name. However, when the 75th anniversary gala of the Women’s Society Club, which was co-founded by her grandmother, was announced strange things began to happen.

The event was being held at the glorious Blue Ridge Madam, a house that Willa’s family once owned and later lost generations ago to financial trouble. After years of neglect, the house was being restored by Paxton Osgood, a former classmate and current president of the club.

While renovating the property the only peach tree was removed unleashing a dark secret that was buried deep within its roots, leaving skeletal remains and a spiritual presence. As Willa and Paxton try to piece together the mysteries surrounding the tree, they learn more about their families than they ever knew and discover what true friendship really means.

Who will like this book: Anyone who enjoys a good story that deals with family secrets, friendship, love, and a bit of mystic.

If you like this, try this: The Girl Who Chased the Moon or Garden Spells, also by Sarah Addison Allen.

Recommended by: Sharyn, Circulation

If you think this looks like something you’d like to read, visit the Fairfield Public Library catalog to see if it’s available and/or place a hold!



Swift as Desire


Title: Swift as Desire

Author:  Laura Esquivel

Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, August 2002

Summary: Swift as Desire focuses on Lluvia, a middle aged mother desperately trying to replay her entire life in order to understand her parents’ mutual anger for one another. Júbilo, her father, was born with an unmatched ability to communicate and understand through feeling rather than words, but is now confined to a bed and unable to speak due to Parkinson’s. Lluvia’s mother Lucha was a privileged beauty who gave up everything in order to marry Júbilo, but has now become cold and calculating. The story finds Lluvia desperate to understand her parents’ past and reconcile them before her father’s imminent death.

The story skips around in time, leaving the reader on edge throughout the entire book. The characters develop smoothly, and leave a deep impression. Nothing is as it seems with the family, which makes an unforgettable read. If readers are looking for another Like Water for Chocolate, they won’t find it here. Instead, they will find a brutally honest look into the closed doors of a marital relationship and a couple falling apart.

Who will like this book? Readers who are looking for a relatively short but still very engaging story. Those who are prepared to love and hate each and every character, sometimes at the same time, but still hope for a happy ending

If you liked this, try this: Like Water for Chocolate also by Esquivel

Recommended by: LB, Circulation Assistant

Island Beneath the Sea

TitleIsland Beneath the Sea

Author:  Isabel Allende

Publisher: Harper, April 2010

Summary: Island Beneath the Sea follows a young woman named Zarité thrown into slavery in 18th century Haiti. Known by most as Tété, she is chosen to become housekeeper for Toulouse Valmorain, an unpredictable plantation entrepreneur and his wife, Eugenia, a woman slowly being dissolved into madness by the harsh living conditions and constant threat of political uprisings. The story follows Tété, who is likeable and sweet, but also conflicted and strong, as she struggles to become a free woman while desperately trying to keep her family intact and protect all those who have helped her.

Staying true to her roots, Allende creates an emotional story of romance, politics, and fantasy using an outstanding cast of characters. At times, the book can be a roller coaster- the defeats are particularly harsh and the accomplishments incredibly satisfying, reminding the reader that life is not always just. At approximately 500 pages, be prepared to devote at least a few weeks to the book. The characters -since their relationships are generally unconfirmed and many appear sporadically- take some time to get to know, but it is well worth the effort.

Who will like this book?  Those who like literature and character development- though not as tough as 100 Years of Solitude, a large number of characters come into play, and the book moves rather slowly at times (which is not a particularly bad thing!). Also, those who like reading about exotic places, history, and politics. Similar books would include Honolulu by Alan Brennert and Portrait in Sepia, also by Allende.

If you like this, try this: Honolulu by Alan Brennert, Portrait in Sepia by Isabel Allende, Hummingbird’s Daughter by Luis Alberto Urrea

Recommended by:  LB, Circulation Assistant

The Hummingbird’s Daughter

TitleThe Hummingbird’s Daughter

Author:  Luis Alberto Urrea

Publisher: Little, Brown, May 2005

Summary: Set in the late 1800’s- early 1900’s, the book follows Teresita, a young girl in Mexico who has been abandoned by her poverty-stricken farm hand mother and given to her abusive aunt who can not afford to feed another child. Huila, an “ancient” religious medicine woman at the age of fifty, takes the child under her wing when she realizes that Teresita has also been given the gift of supernatural healing. Teresita soon discovers her true calling to take away the people’s suffering, and soon her life spirals out of control as word spreads all the way into North America about her abilities to heal the sick and wounded, as well as her outspoken liberal political views against the government and organized religion, which do not sit well with the already collapsing Conservative government and Roman Catholic church. This story follows Teresita until the age of twenty as she desperately tries to escape her destiny of martyrdom.

Beautifully written and rich in detail, Urrea makes this a quick 500-page read. Impossible to put down, the story will stay with you long after you’ve finished- especially when you discover she is based on a real person related to Urrea. Disturbing, exciting, and beautiful all at the same time.

Who will like this book? Fans of magical realist authors (such as Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Salman Rushdie) who are looking for a bit more realism than magic. If you enjoyed Into the Beautiful North, be prepared for a much darker, deeper and more mature look into human psychology, organized religion, and politics. It is NOT for those with weak stomachs.

Recommended By: LB, Circulation Assistant