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Book Review : The Swan Thieves

Cover of "The Swan Thieves: A Novel"

Cover of The Swan Thieves: A Novel

 

The Swan Thieves by Elizabeth Kostova is a remarkable book. It’s one of those books where you want to curl up before the fire, with your favorite dog or cat on your knee, and just immerse yourself in someone else’s world.  It is 561 pages long, and I begrudged the time I had to spend away from it. The writing is amazing, the way she describes the scenes so vividly. You feel you are actually there. The love and understanding of painting comes through strongly, as you move from America to France, and go through some of the world’s most famous galleries. The book flashes backwards and forwards from the present time to the late 1800’s. The romance between two Impressionist artists, Beatrice and Oliver (1800’s) and their letters to each other form part of the story. In the present-day, the charismatic and hugely talented artist, Robert Oliver, is sent to a psychiatric unit for trying to stab a famous painting. His psychiatrist, Andrew Marlow, also a painter, tries to communicate with Robert, who refuses to speak. Robert paints the same woman over and over.  This obsession caused the breakdown of his marriage. Marlow gives him an easel,brushes, and paints, as a way of getting through to him, but he continues to paint this mystery woman.Marlow then tries to reconstruct Robert’s life before the incident, and he is drawn into one of the most endearing love stories he has ever come across. Marlow himself finds romance through his investigation of Robert, and learns to understand himself more deeply. Part romance, part mystery, part detective novel, I loved it and couldn’t put it down. What a wonderful writer! There is not a lot of action, the story progresses slowly building up the characters, and their interweaving lives. It’s a rich, sumptuous novel which may not appeal to everyone. However, I am interested in art and mystery, and other people’s reactions to both so this book held me in it’s sway the whole time.

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2 comments on “Book Review : The Swan Thieves

  1. on thehomefrontandbeyond
    August 12, 2012

    ah, to be held in sway!

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