A Company of Swans by Eva Ibbotson 5 0f 5 stars.
For nineteen-year-old Harriet Morton, life in 1912 Cambridge is as dry and dull as a biscuit. Her stuffy academic father and her oppressive aunt Louisa allows her only one outlet: ballet. There, in Madame Lavarre's famed school, Harriet is finally able to come to life for a few hours each week. When a Russian ballet master comes to class searching for dancers to fill the corps of his ballet company before their South American tour, Harriet's world changes. He chooses her to be the "eighteenth swan." Defying her father's wishes and narrowly escaping the clutches of the man who wishes to marry her, Harriet sneaks off to join the Russian ballet on their journey to the Amazon. There, in the wild, lush jungle, they perform Swan Lake in grand golden opera houses for the wealthy and culture-deprived rubber barons, and Harriet meets Rom Verney, the handsome and mysterious British exile who owns the most ornate opera house. Utterly enchanted by both the exotic surroundings and by Rom's affections, Harriet is swept away by her new life, completely unaware that her father and would-be fiance have begun to track her down...
Eva Ibbotson is easily compared to Jane Austen. Her prose is thick and flowing with a beautiful style and tone. I reread this book so that I could share a review with you, and I promise, it is just as good the second time. The story is narrated with humor all the way through. The characters are wonderfully imagined and beautiful as the third person narrative slips throughout each one, emphasizing their personalities. Rom is a dashing gentlemen, think Rhett Butler, people. Harriet is a witty yet innocent heroine, and it is a joy to watch her story unfold.
For fans of: Eva Ibbotson, Jane Austen, Magic Under Glass