Synopses & Reviews
First published in 1937, They Came Like Swallows was William Maxwell's second novel. It tells of an ordinary American family overtaken by the devastating epidemic of the Spanish influenza of 1918. The book begins on the day before the armistice in
a small midwestern town, and the events are seen from the perspective, in turn, of eight-year-old Peter Morison--called Bunny; of his older brother, Robert; and of their father. They are witnesses to a domestic tragedy that is written with beauty and a quite magnificent tenderness.
William Maxwell has been described by The Washington Post as "one of America's most distinguished and distinctive stylists." John Updike has said that "Maxwell's voice is one of the wisest in American fiction; it
is, as well, one of the kindest." The Times Literary Supplement declares
that "Maxwell offers us scrupulously executed, moving landscapes of America's twentieth century, and they do not fade." The Saturday Review said,"They Came Like Swallows is one of those rare tales in which child-hood is reflected in the simplicity and intensity of its own experience."
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About the Author
William Maxwell has written a new Introduction for this Modern Library edition.