When Astarte Weaver moves to a derelict cottage in County Clare, Ireland, she finds herself reluctantly drawn into the feuds and alliances of her neighbours around the Swan Lake, an area steeped in myth and magic. Soon the lives of all are transformed. Eden, the reluctant rock icon, hounded to breaking point by paparazzi; Mairie and Seamus, whose families have battled for five generations; love-struck teenagers Jamie and Sinead; Flynn, who hopes to help Astarte rebuild her life as well as her cottage.
Then tragedy strikes, tearing the community apart, and Astarte is forced to confront her own personal demons and make decisions which could finally lay her past to rest.
THE SWAN LAKE BOOK REVIEWS
From the City Canyons Records Diary (used with permission).
Peter Ulrich, one of my favourite musicians, wrote this review for the City Canyons Records Diary on MySpace. City Canyons is Peter's record company. Do visit and listen to some of the wonderful music on there! You can read my interview with Peter on this website, and hear some of his music on his MySpace page.
Peter Ulrich here. I've just finished reading Lisa Tenzin-Dolma's first novel, 'The Swan Lake'. I met Lisa a couple of years ago via myspace and she has become a valued supporter of my music, as well as that of some of my fellow City Canyons artists, and of the label in general.
She did a substantial interview with me which, as those of you dedicated enough to read the blogs on my myspace page will know, was incorporated into a motivational personal development book which Lisa published last year. She has praised my music in glowing terms, so it's a great pleasure to say that I genuinely loved her novel and so can return the compliments.
The Swan Lake of the title is in rural Ireland and is the focal point of life in the community which the book's central character moves into. Although my own experiences of Ireland are limited to a holiday many years ago in the western extremes of County Cork and a few visits to Brendan Perry's studio in the northern lake district of County Cavan (both for work on Dead Can Dance projects and my first solo album), I can readily associate with Lisa's portrayal of this world.
Her acute observations and crafted characterisations beautifully capture the paradoxical mixture of open warmth and underlying tensions which will bring smiles of recognition to those who have experienced these communities first-hand, and will equally delight and intrigue those for whom this book acts as an induction. And amidst this setting is a well-paced tale of loves both lost and found on several levels.
The cover of the book carries a glowing commendation from bestselling writer Joanne Harris - author of 'Chocolat' - so I'm clearly not alone in having immensely enjoyed this book. If you'd like to find out more, check out Lisa's website.
Now it seems that I'm waiting for Lisa's next novel while she's waiting for my next album.
See you next time.
This review was posted by a reader in the US.
A book so real, when I reluctantly turned the last page I felt as though I had just awoken from a dream about people I know and love.
The author, Lisa Tenzin-Dolma, wove this story around lives that begin long after maturity and end long before death; lives that touch each other in absurd and astonishing ways. She builds a community for us out of the detritus of everyday lives.
Around a lake set in Ireland, believed to be both enchanted and cursed, our characters come together to heal and love and lose.
Astarte Weaver, a misfit in her own life, comes from England to escape the conclusion of her two closest relationships. Driving around in Ireland, looking for a piece of land to make her own, she finds a ramshackle cottage on the edge of the lake. It is in ruins, but so is Astarte's life. She feels her heart in the cottage and insists, against the stout advice of the estate agent, on buying the place and rebuilding it to its former glory.
Befriending the agent and his wife, Astarte begins to reconstruct her life along with the cottage. Flynn, a local builder, is recommended for the job. In spite of the immediate chemistry that bubbles between them, Astarte hires him to help her make her dream come true. He more than delivers with his reconstruction of the cottage, but can he repair and beautify a broken heart?
Meanwhile, Eden, the famous musician who was home grown near the lake in County Clare, has come to a crossroads in his life and returns to his home to heal and figure out his future. He needs to be in the warm circle of his family in order to repair his identity and find a new passion. He is aided in this endeavor by his loyal agent, Linda, who loves Eden but can never tell him for fear her affection will not be returned or worse, Eden will be frightened off by her declaration.
John (the estate agent) and his wife Siobahn have a fine son to nurture but as he enters the story, a boy verging on manhood, there is trouble in his soul. It's called first love. The object of his affection, Sinead, lives with her great aunt Mairie whose life's goal is to perpetuate a feud with her family's direst enemy, Seamus, who happens to be the father of Astarte's builder. When one of the young lovers is lost, the other is truly lost. The healing process is long and painful for the family, but help does come in the form of a similarly effected friend. We are not spared one tear nor denied one smile in this tale. Just as true love never runs smooth in reality, so it is in The Swan Lake.
Alliances are made, broken, repaired, lost and kept at bay around the lake. Sorrow hits its peak and love does its "conquer all" dance before the story ends. All of the characters find something in their lives that could be tragedies or could be miracles. Love forms from a lifetime of hatred, from the chemistry of youth, is tested in a solid marriage and slowly grows from friendship and trust.
I was quite disinclined to close the novel for fear of losing my new friends and being rudely ejected from their lives. I came to know them all and developed a fondness for each.
I so loved this novel that I will prevail upon its author to write a dozen sequels and follow every character to their, hopefully, long lived and blissful conclusion.
And from another reader
I sat and read half of it last night....here's my tag-line for what it's worth!
'The Swan Lake is so intensely sensual, colourful and full of vivid imagery, we feel we enter into the book, rapt voyeurs of a sparkling magical world!' And like she said above, we never want to leave! I agree!
I have to say though, not without a great sense of humour, the description of Leaf and Rainbow arriving at Astarte's house had me rolling on the floor in laughter, reading it out loud to my partner.
It was just so absolutely perfect!
Serialize it and put it on TV - BBC - I say. I absolutely think, with the right director, it would make a great film.
However, it has to be like the fit with the Lord of the Rings, because the writing is just so spectacular!
What a great find, a million thumbs up!