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The Swan Thieves: A Novel

A book by Elizabeth Kostova

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Artists and lovers

  • Oct 12, 2010
Artists and lovers My rating: 3 of 5 stars "The Swan Thieves" is a story about love, art, and obsession. Dr. Andrew Marlow, an amateur painter himself, takes on the case of Robert Oliver, nearly famous artist, who attempts to slash a painting at Washington's National Gallery. Robert is deliberately uncommunicative, and Marlow breaks his code of ethics by delving deep into Robert's personal life on his own. Why did he try to destroy that painting? Who is the beautiful young woman whom he paints countless times, always in Victorian garb? As Marlow interviews Robert's former wife and recent lover, he begins to uncover the answers. Traveling in the states, in France, and in Mexico, he finds the pieces of the puzzle one at a time. The Swan Thieves is a novel with too many pages (0ver 500). The use of multiple voices in the telling of the tale helps prevent monotony, but it would be a much better novel if it were more concise. Part mystery, part romance, and part art history, there are many compelling passages, but these are separated by way too much repetitive detail. Read this book for the story, but approach with patience!
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October 13, 2010
I read THE HISTORIAN and was quite underwhelmed actually. I don't think that I would pursue her writing any further and your review doesn't convince me otherwise. Good job, LInda.
October 12, 2010
Nice review! I agree with you, it was way too long. I thought it would never end.
October 12, 2010
Thanks, KC, for the kind words.
More The Swan Thieves: A Novel reviews
review by . February 26, 2010
Rambling, pointless, infuriating story
   Robert Oliver, a noted artist, is arrested after trying to slash a painting at a Washington, DC gallery.  Confined to a psychiatric institution, he refuses to cooperate with his doctor, Andrew Marlow, himself a painter and something of a detective.  A friend recommended this book to me saying it was The.  Best.  Book.  Ever.  Well, to each his own.  I found it to be frustrating and pointless in the extreme.  The author is in love with details …
review by . February 11, 2010
       my edition      First, my thanks to LibraryThing's early reviewers program for pulling my name out of the hat to win this book.  If you haven't yet visited LibraryThing, get on over there...great site. And my thanks to Little, Brown, for sending me a beautiful finished copy.       So let's get to it.  Weighing in at nearly 600 pages, The Swan Thieves is a novel about obsession and art. It's also a story about love …
review by . January 12, 2010
The central figure of Kostova's impressive novel is a gifted artist, Robert Oliver, who is arrested when he attacks a painting hanging in the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, "Leda". In the painting a mortal woman is ravished by Zeus in the form of a swan, a theme that is woven through the novel, a mystery begun in the days of the French Impressionists. Thus does the author join the stories of two centuries, the late 19th and 20th, the characters as entwined as their paths through life. …
About the reviewer
Linda ()
Ranked #55
After 21 years as a school psychologist, I now work part-time at two local historical museums, giving tours and teaching special programs. This leaves me more time to enjoy my little grandchildren, and … more
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Reviewed by Katharine Weber Elizabeth Kostova made a dramatic debut in 2005 with her megabestsellingThe Historian. The first debut novel to hit theNew York Timesbestseller list at #1,The Historianhas been published in 44 languages, has more than 1.5 million copies in print, and there's a Sony film in the works. A hefty, quirky, historical vampire thriller that took 10 years to write and for which a reported $2 million advance was paid,The Historianhas managed through sheer bulk and majestic grandeur to confer upon itself the literary weight of Umberto Eco'sThe Name of the Rose, even as it offers up some of the easy delights and generic writing skimps that put it on theDa Vinci Codeshelf.The Swan Thievesrevisits certain themes and strategies ofThe Historian, chief among them an academic hero who is drawn into a quest for knowledge about the central mystery, only to develop an obsession that becomes the driving force of the plot. Each chapter marks a point of view shift from the previous one, with the narrative shared among a variety of characters telling the story in a variety of ways. The events range from the present moment back to the 19th century of the painters Beatrice de Clerval and her uncle Olivier Vignot, whose intertwined lives, letters, and paintings are at the heart of the story.This time out, Kostova's central character, Andrew Marlow, has a license to ask prying questions as he unravels the secrets and pursues the truth, because he is a ...
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ISBN-10: 0316065781
ISBN-13: 978-0316065788
Author: Elizabeth Kostova
Genre: Mystery & Thrillers
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
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