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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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2,2871692,784 (3.49)1 / 151
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
    The Forgery of Venus by Michael Gruber (FFortuna)
  3. 00
    Mortal Love by Elizabeth Hand (FFortuna)
  4. 00
    The Way to Paradise by Mario Vargas Llosa (Johanna11)
  5. 00
    The Horse's Mouth by Joyce Cary (kraaivrouw)
  6. 00
    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 (164)  Dutch (4)  Spanish (1)  Catalan (1)  All languages (170)
Showing 1-5 of 164 (next | show all)
I really enjoyed this book. I like Kostova's academic/research orientated stories.
I thought Marlow's wife plotline was quite obvious but also worked reasonably well.
This book evoked the era of Impressionism and it's definitely made me want to go to more art galleries!
I like the underlying theme of ageing and change, obsession and dedication.
I wasn't entirely convinced by Robert's sudden recovery but all in all I enjoyed the story. ( )
  Laurochka | Feb 6, 2016 |
An extremely romantic (but sometimes gritty) novel about art, artists and obsession. Why has an inspired artist tried to slash a painting? A psychitrist plays detective and makes a number of trips to try to find out the motive(s). A slowly unfolding mystery and a parallel love story. Perhaps a shade too blatantly parallel - which is why it got bumped down to three stars. ( )
  dbsovereign | Jan 26, 2016 |
I read over 400 pages of this one and finally put it down, so glad that it was over, at least for me. The book was not a difficult read, but it was j-u-s-t t-o-o l-o-n-g.I don't care for rambling tomes of feelings, perspectives and ideas when they have already been set and delivered. I know. I get it. I understand. I comprehend. I caught on. I grasp the situation. I register. 10-4. Roger. Wilco.

See? You understand quite well what I am saying, and you got it the first time, but I went on and on and it gets a bit old, doesn't it?

By the time I put the book down, I could not care less what happened to the obsessed, self-absorbed, artificially-repressed-with-life painter Robert Oliver. I had no sympathy for the angst felt by the rejected Mary. I was glad that Kate was shed of the albatross that Robert had become to her. I was convinced that Andrew needed badly to have sex since he seemed to fantasize about every woman he ran across. I was not impressed by the love affair of Beatrice and her uncle-by-marriage.

Honestly, I rolled my eyes so much at this story I probably should make an appt with my opthomologist, but really wanted to finish it. However, I started to feel that it was sucking days from my existence. Deciding to put it down unfinished was a relief. I have also decided to remove another book by Kostova, The Historian, off of my TBR list.
( )
1 vote CarmenMilligan | Jan 18, 2016 |
Very interesting world of 19th century art and artists, current day artists, mental illness, psychology, relationships, etc. A psychiciatrist basically finds himself trying to unravel the mysteries of an artist patient's life.

I listened to this as a playaway audio and in retrospect I think I may have missed a few critical things (that i wouldn't have missed if I'd read this in a book with no distractions and the ability to reread). Sigh.

  Connie-D | Jan 17, 2016 |
It was a great story up until the end. I felt like the last few pages did not completely resolve the story. ( )
  cygnet81 | Jan 17, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 164 (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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