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The Swan Thieves by Elizabeth Kostova
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The Swan Thieves (original 2010; edition 2010)

by Elizabeth Kostova

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2,1041573,131 (3.49)1 / 147
Member:Gracelesslady
Title:The Swan Thieves
Authors:Elizabeth Kostova
Info:Back Bay Books (2010), Edition: Reprint, Paperback, 592 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:***
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Work details

The Swan Thieves by Elizabeth Kostova (2010)

  1. 10
    The Virgin Blue by Tracy Chevalier (generalkala)
    generalkala: A similar art novel that also alternates between a present-day plot and a past plot.
  2. 00
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    The Echo Maker by Richard Powers (alalba)
    alalba: In both books the mental illness of one of the characters is linked to a mystery that a medical practitioner tries to resolve.
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English (151)  Dutch (4)  Spanish (1)  Catalan (1)  All languages (157)
Showing 1-5 of 151 (next | show all)
There were a lot of things to like in this book. However, about 2/3 of the way through the musings of two of the female characters got quite tedious for me. As I was listening to the audio version I did not have the option of skimming. I think the audio version was well done. ( )
  zoomball | Jun 2, 2014 |
I really really liked it.... the ending could have tied itself together a bit more tightly but it was still an UNBELIEVABLY amazing story. ( )
  Danica.Rice | Apr 29, 2014 |
3.5/5 Stars
I liked the way that this book was written from different points of view. My favorite character actually ended up being the Dr.

The problem I had with the story was the ending. It didn't explain very well how Robert figured out the secret behind the Leda painting. Also, he went from not speaking to suddenly being cured. The transition was not believable. I also found the part about Esme and her family home and the last letter and paintings that were discovered very confusing. ( )
  magistrab | Apr 17, 2014 |
I loved this as much as The Historian. The formula is the same but different. There is something about the way that Kostova writes that is poetic and it resonates strongly with me. I am disappointed when I finish her books. I wish there were more. ( )
  qofd | Feb 24, 2014 |
All I can say is I loved this book. The detail was amazing. I read it much earlier this year and I still think about it. Highly recommend! ( )
  ava-st-claire | Feb 21, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 151 (next | show all)
"She has worked hard to construct an elaborate fiction of intertwining lives, but the whole situation in which the characters intertwine feels contrived, and they cross as the result of too much coincidence."

 
"But Kostova's new book, set partly in Washington, tells a rather simple story, and its characters, although they sometimes insist otherwise, don't change radically over time."
 
Kostova clearly did her research, richly painting images of famous and lesser-known works of art, and the settings that inspired them. But overall, the story just isn’t gripping. It feels overstuffed with description and underdeveloped in terms of plot. It’s a mystery without suspense.
 
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Epigraph
You would hardly believe how difficult it is to place a figure alone on a canvas, and to concentrate all the interest on this single and universal figure and still keep it living and real. --Edouard Manet, 1880
Dedication
For my mother
la bonne mere
First words
Outside the village there is a fire ring, blackening the thawing snow.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
Psychiatrist Andrew Marlowe has a perfectly ordered life - solitary, perhaps, but full of devotion to his profession and the painting hobby he loves. This order is destroyed when renowned painter Robert Oliver attacks a canvas in the National Gallery of Art and becomes his patient. Desperate to understand the secret that torments this genius, Marlowe 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 nineteenth century to the late twentieth, from young love to last love. The Swan Thieves is a story of obsession, history's losses, and the power of art to preserve hope.
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Psychiatrist Andrew Marlowe, 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.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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