Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Book Review: The Swan Thieves by Elizabeth Kostova

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. In response, Marlowe finds himself going beyond his own legal and ethical boundaries to understand the secret that torments this genius, a journey that will lead him into the lives of the women closest to Robert Oliver and toward a tragedy at the heart of French Impressionism. Ranging from American museums 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, the losses of history, and the power of art to preserve human hope. (Image and synopsis from

My Review:

This book tells a great story of a psychiatrist being drawn into one of his patient's world by trying to find out why the patient won't talk and what he knows. The Swan Thieves is a delightful mystery that entertains and enthralls the reader while their reading.

I loved the different points of view from the characters, as the psychiatrist, Andrew Marlow, goes about piecing together Robert Oliver's (the patient) past and knowledge of the distant past and how the narration changes from the present to past and back again.  It developed a richness in the story since it spanned many characters and time periods.

However, while I found the book entertaining, I feel that it is kind of forgettable once you put it down. I loved the idea and the narration, but ultimately I felt that I didn't quite care enough for the characters from the past to have the ending be truly gripping and exciting. I wanted more from Robert Oliver and Andrew Marlow in the present in the ending because I cared more about them.

Overall, I think this is a beautiful story and wonderfully written, I just wish there was more in the end to make it a memorable piece.

My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

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