They Came Like Swallows

They Came Like Swallows


Discover William Maxwell’s classic, heart-breaking portrait of an ordinary American family struck by the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic

'A story of such engaging warmth that it would thaw the heart of any critic… Will melt many a reader to tears’ TIME

Elizabeth Morison is an ordinary woman.

Yet, to eight-year-old Bunny, his mother is the centre of his universe. To Robert, her elder son, she is someone he must protect against the dangers of the outside world. And to her husband, James, she is the foundation on which his family rests and life without her is unimaginable.

As the dark winter of 1918 dawns and the shadow of Spanish flu starts to disturb day-to-day life, a moving portrait of Elizabeth takes shape, set against the lives and fate of the Morison family.

As you read They Came Like Swallows, you catch yourself from time to time being astonished at how tightly you're gripping the pages… There isn't a word that has dated. It could have been written yesterday, or tomorrow’ Nicholas Lezard, Guardian


  • Illness, regret, recovery, loss: it's our times in another key. We watch as ordinary lives take an extraordinary turn — the flu felling some and sparing others, and laying bare their emotional lives as it goes
    Gish Jen

About the author

William Maxwell

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