Odette by Jessica Duchen - #BookReview #BlogTour

When a swan crashes through her window at the height of a winter storm, Mitzi Fairweather decides to nurse the injured bird back to health. At sunset, though, it becomes a human being. 
This unexpected visitor is Odette, the swan princess – alone, in danger and adrift in 21st-century Britain, dependent on the kindness of strangers. Bird by day, woman by night, with no way to go home to Russia, she remains convinced that only a man’s vow of eternal love can break her spell. 
Mitzi is determined to help Odette, but as the two try to hide the improbable truth, their web of deception grows increasingly tangled… 
A contemporary twist on Swan Lake, Odette asks – in the best tradition of fairy tales – whether against all the odds, hope, empathy and humanity can win the day. 

It's such a pleasure to be hosting the blog tour for Odette today. Many thanks to the author, Unbound and Anne Cater from Random Things Tours for inviting me and for my advance digital copy of the novel.

What could be better at Christmas than to be swept away by a book based on a wintry fairy tale? Odette is a beautiful and wise novel which effortlessly combines a magical story about an enchanted princess with a contemporary exploration of belonging, acceptance and love.
The book's main focus is on the extraordinary friendship between two women who are brought together by a winter storm. Mitzi Fairweather is the sort of friend that everybody needs and goes out of her way to help others - she's a freelance journalist who writes about the plight of immigrants and she hands over the contents of her purse to a young who begs for money to travel home, claiming her boyfriend has beaten her up. Perhaps the only person Mitzi isn't kind to is herself. She is grieving the loss of her beloved father and the end of her long-term relationship and terrified of being hurt again, has fallen into a cycle of seeking comfort from one night stands that just leave her feeling worse than before. Her sense of empathy means she immediately seeks care for the injured swan that crashes through her window during a storm and even when her life is turned upside down by the astonishing truth and the repercussions that ensue, she continues to care desperately for the plight of Odette.
Mitzi and Odette have very different lives yet there is an innocence about both of them; Mitzi sees the best in people and believes in giving them a chance and Odette is a girl out of time who is confused by the modern world yet retains a simple and infectious joy for life. She casts a beguiling spell over many people she meets yet is still a victim of the darker instincts that infect both people and birds who object to a stranger in their midst. Odette's attempts to understand twenty-first century life in a strange country result in some delightfully humorous moments throughout the story but the book also reflects the realities of how immigrants and refugees are often treated when they find themselves far from home.
I was completely engrossed by this unforgettable novel that so adroitly captures the feeling of an icy fairy tale with brave heroines, evil villains and a seemingly hopeless quest to find love. The best fiction opens doors into other worlds and Odette does just that while still being firmly set in modern England. I couldn't put the book down and became totally immersed in the lives of these characters I grew to really care about. This is truly a story to lose yourself in on a cold winter's eve.
Jessica Duchen has written enchanting magical realism which despite telling an incredible tale somehow feels entirely believable - I never once doubted that Odette really was a Siberian princess who had a spell cast on her by an evil Baron in the nineteenth century. Her love of music plays a vital part in the novel and as such is a lovely tribute to perhaps the best-known version of the story, Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake. I adored this captivating book which, as all the best fairy tales can, shines a light on real-life and reminds us that no matter who we are and where we're from, we all share a universal need for friendship and love. Highly recommended.

Odette is published by Unbound and can be purchased from:
 UnboundAmazon UK (Paperback), Amazon UK (Kindle), Waterstones 
For a longer synopsis and an extract from the book please visit: https://unbound.com/books/odette/

A narrated concert based on ODETTE is in the planning stages with the award-winning violinist Fenella Humphreys. pianist Viv McLean and Jessica as narrator. Music will include a celebration of Tchaikovsky’s magical score for Swan Lake, plus works by Chopin, Liszt and Gershwin. The first performances will be at Music at Mansfield Street, London W1, 17 April 2019 and St Mary’s, Perivale, 27 April 2019.

Don't miss the rest of the blog tour, details are below.

About the Author
Jessica Duchen is an acclaimed author and journalist, specialising in words for, with and about music. Her work has appeared in The Independent, The Guardian and The Sunday Times, plus numerous magazines around the world. Her first five novels have gathered a loyal fan-base and wide acclaim. Music plays a vital role in her books, and she frequently narrates concert versions of Alicia’s Gift, Hungarian Dances and Ghost Variations. 

Jessica is the librettist for the opera Silver Birch by Roxanna Panufnik, commissioned by Garsington Opera and shortlisted for a 2018 International Opera Award. Current projects include the libretto for a youth opera with composer Paul Fincham for Garsington 2019 (an updating of an Oscar Wilde fairy tale) and two large-scale choral works with Roxanna Panufnik. 

She was born within the sound of Bow Bells, studied music at Cambridge and held editorial posts on several music magazines before going freelance to concentrate on writing. She edited a piano magazine for five years and was then classical music and ballet correspondent for The Independent from 2004-2016. Her output also includes plays, poetry, biographies of the composers Erich Wolfgang Korngold and Gabriel Fauré (published by Phaidon) and her popular classical music blog, JDCMB. She lives in London with her violinist husband and two cats. She enjoys playing the piano, cookery, long walks and obscure books about music.


  1. Delighted you enjoyed this one Karen. Thanks for the Blog Tour support x


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