I’ve been keeping an eye on the trends of contemporary novels for years. During the past decade, they usually have followed the latest popular genre’s lead in terms of style, direction, characters, and themes. There is a reason why I have been steadily avoiding certain genres like the plague. Sadly, I’ve come to the conclusion that modern authors are either unwilling to take a leap of creativity, or content to let their stories be mapped out for them by publisher preferences.
It’s always a relief to be proven wrong by a rare, diamond-in-the-rough exception.
Rose Schmidt’s “The Wayfaring Swan” takes bold steps forward by centering on the importance of family and loving connections. In a world where we are surrounded by mostly technological relationships and fanatic materialism, the author resolutely asks us what holds our lives together and what gives them purpose.
Liana Taylor doesn’t believe in love. What she does believe in is the growth and future of her brainchild – the traveling agency she’s built from the bottom up, The Wayfaring Swan. When her interfering, enthusiastic mother ropes her into a misguided vacation, complete with a bevy of diverse strangers, she rebels from start to finish. What she never expects is the series of outrageous, hilarious, and life-changing adventures that happen along the way.
From the start, Liana refuses to get close to her birth mother because of past hurt. Though she is dragged into a possible romantic situation, her own regrets and self-doubts stand in the way of potential happiness, justifying her distrustful attitude. It takes a handsome flirt with a scarred heart – the suave and passionate Taron Royce – and an ensemble of unique characters to help her see that where trust is, love is right there beside it. She discovers the meaning of family and a true happy ending: no matter how hard it is to forgive and to love, one needs both in order to find happiness.
The comedic edge of this novel provides an backdrop of laughter while its author gently prods at deep issues most people leave untouched. Her emphasis on love being the greatest gift in the universe is a moving philosophy to live by. Moreover, she discusses other known themes, such as revenge and honesty, with brave emotion and insight. She’s never afraid to transcend stereotypes and show how human her characters are. The sharp-tongued, scathing Delia was one of my particular favorites, a regular Laura Bacall wielding fashion and truth as she soldiers through life. Liana’s mother Jillian is also delightful; some of her scenes reminded me of the ’80s film “Romancing the Stone” and its hapless heroine, whose wits and common sense eventually overrule her romantic notions.
Funny and warmhearted, “The Wayfaring Swan” brings everyday, quiet heroism and genuine love stories to the forefront, emphasizing the true definitions of home and family. It’s a remarkable debut novel that stands up for itself with all of its wonderful values.
(ARC provided by the author in exchange for a honest review)