Elizabeth Kostova: The Swan Thieves

by Rachel Baker on August 17, 2013

I was pretty interested in this second book by Kostova. For the most part, I enjoyed the historical fiction of The Historian, and was looking for this to be more of the same. I found this book to be very predictable, and completely unbelievable in many aspects. The character development seemed very one dimensional; and it seemed as if most of the characters were different aspects of the same person.  I think this would have been a better book if it had ended like the movie Shutter Island ends where the narrator (and main character with authority) is actually the asylum patient.

I was sadly disappointed in the story, but the writing was good enough to keep my attention enough to finish the book.

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Summary: Psychiatrist Andrew Marlow, devoted to his profession and the painting hobby he loves, has a solitary but ordered life. When renowned painter Robert Oliver attacks a canvas in the National Gallery of Art and becomes his patient, Marlow finds that order destroyed. Desperate to understand the secret that torments the genius, he embarks on a journey that leads him into the lives of the women closest to Oliver and a tragedy at the heart of French Impressionism.

Kostova’s masterful new novel travels from American cities to the coast of Normandy, from the late 19th century to the late 20th, from young love to last love. THE SWAN THIEVES is a story of obsession, history’s losses, and the power of art to preserve human hope.

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