The Swan Gondola

The Swan Gondola

Book - 2014
Average Rating:
Rate this:
"From the critically acclaimed author of The Coffins of Little Hope, a new novel depicting a tragic love story set amid the fanciful inventions, gothic amusements, spiritualists, flimflam men, and other crooked characters who populated the 1898 Omaha World's Fair"--
Publisher: New York : Riverhead Books, 2014
ISBN: 9781594486098
Branch Call Number: Schaeffer, T
Characteristics: 458 pages : ill. ; 24 cm


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment
Feb 26, 2018

This story, set during Omaha's 1898 Trans-Mississippi Exposition, is told from the carnival workers' viewpoint...complete with prostitutes, ne'er-do-well entertainers, and anarchists. I found it hard to like any of the characters and didn't feel like any of the Wizard of Oz devices/references worked well. Omaha itself comes off as a cow town trying to make it to the big time with a fair that brings President McKinley to town. Although I found some of the period language interesting and colorful, I felt that the overall effect was pretentious. I struggled through the book because it's the February 2018 selection of the Willa Cather Book Club.

Feb 17, 2017

Completed 50% of book. Interesting at first then became tedious.

Sep 15, 2016

The Swan Gondola is a beautiful portrayal of love and loss set against a glorious backdrop so vivid, it becomes an entire world. The Fair is described in such exquisite detail that you feel that you are walking along the colorful tents and booths of the Midway and sailing down the length of the 2000-ft. lagoon in a gondola on a moonlit night. Schaffert, a Nebraska native, takes some of his inspiration from Baum’s classic novel, The Wizard of Oz, and cheerfully admits to the allusions. Although this is not a retelling or an origin story, I enjoyed discovering the allusions for myself. Schaffert’s novel is a romantic, breathtaking work of literary fiction, and an absolute treat. Highly recommended.

TSCPL_ChrisB Jun 04, 2016

An engaging novel full of tension, romance, mysticism, and atmosphere. It really brings the Omaha World Fair (the 1898 Trans-Mississippi Exposition) to life.

Jan 21, 2015

Excellent plot, themes, point of view, historical fiction. Through the eyes of a down and outer (Dickensian style), the reader is immersed in a love story evolving simultaneously with the Trans-Mississippi Exhibition (Omaha World's Fair). I thoroughly enjoyed going through the U of Nebraska's photo archive from the link at the end of the book; many scenes and events jumped to life. Have discussed with a colleague who read It Happened At the Fair (on Chicago World's Fair just 4 years prior). We are each going to read the other book. Kudos to Schaffert - he can really write. Just a tad long and descriptive, but I forgive him that.

Jun 09, 2014

LOVED! Such an amazing story...I felt transported back into time to Omaha World's Fair!

Feb 16, 2014

Very atmospheric and a bit magical at times. This is a charming story.


Add Age Suitability

There are no ages for this title yet.


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.


Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number

Subject Headings


Find it at BPL

To Top