“The Swan Gondola” Is a Quirky Love Story Set Against the Backdrop of the 1898 World Fair
Novelist Timothy Schaffert’s newest piece The Swan Gondola brings the 1898 Omaha’s World Fair back to life and adds a bit of magic, mystery, and of course, romance to the delightful setting. Readers are taken back in time to when Omaha still bore the marks of being part of the ‘Wild, Wild West’ and Chicago was the height of both grandeur and respectability.
Ferret Skerrit, who works at the fair as a ventriloquist but used to be a con man back in the day, crosses paths with a young actress named Cecily, who is part of a traveling acting troupe. While the two are instantly attracted to one another, it’s obvious the young woman is hiding something in that worn down carpetbag she’s always carrying around with her. Sadly, much to Skerrit’s chagrin, after the fair closes, Cecily takes off without even giving him so much as a second glance. However, a romantic ride in the swan gondola under the bright moonlight may just be what Skerrit needs to win the woman of his dreams back to her side, especially after he sees her cavorting with a well-to-do rival.
Schaffert expertly mixes in historical facts with his eccentric characters and subtle paranormal atmosphere. This undercurrent of magic combined with the jaw-dropping plot twists is what keeps the book interesting. Plus, while there is a fair bit of romance, it’s not the usual schmoop that Nicholas Sparks routinely dishes out—Schaffert’s sense of romance is, thankfully, not overbearing at all. This whimsical novel features lush imagery, delightfully eccentric characters, a setting that you can sink your teeth into, and best of all, a fairly realistic portrayal of star-crossed lovers.