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The Swan Thieves | [Elizabeth Kostova]

The Swan Thieves

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.
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Publisher's Summary

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 19th 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.

©2010 Elizabeth Kostova; (P)2010 Hachette

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Average Customer Rating

3.6 (789 )
5 star
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Overall
3.7 (243 )
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Story
4.0 (240 )
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  •  
    01-23-10
    01-23-10 Member Since 2006
    HELPFUL VOTES
    34
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    "uuuuuuhhhhhhhhhhh............"

    I have listened to a great many audiobooks by various authors, including this one. While "The Historian" was interresting, this book was not at all. The main character is mundanely obsesessed with a boring artist, who has an even more boring obsession with an historical figure who's significance is scant. The author uses too many descriptives to detail minute by minute what the reader surmises in the first few encounters with each character. There is no exciting revelation at the end to make up for her wordy drudgery. It's one of the few books that I found a complete waste and I'm sorry to have purchased it. I try to find some redeeming aspect in every book, but this one was almost impossible to finish listening to. Listener beware.

    21 of 21 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Carol Southaven, MS, United States 01-26-10
    Carol Southaven, MS, United States 01-26-10 Member Since 2006
    HELPFUL VOTES
    34
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    "Why, oh why, didn't I trust the reviews?"

    Good grief. Many, many words about not much. I stuck with this until I thought my ears were going to bleed. I may try it again later but I don't know if it was the reader or the story that turned into a gentle roar in my head. Either way, I give.

    16 of 16 people found this review helpful
  •  
    nevina Roxbury, CT, United States 02-18-10
    nevina Roxbury, CT, United States 02-18-10 Member Since 2006

    nevina

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Dull...like listening to paint dry."

    I had high hopes for this book but it was an all around dud for me. The story began in an interesting way but soon became repetitive and tedious. The female characters point of view was told in way too much detail, and in the end as I suspected there was no earthly reason to have listened to these girls drone on and on for hours about the minutia of their lives with the painter.
    I also figured out the "surprise" ending about 8 hrs in. Not very subtle plotting.
    The narrators of this book did not help alleviate the boredom at all, I do like the sound of Treat Williams voice but this was more of a read aloud effort rather than a performance.
    Very disappointing and not in my opinion, credit worthy.

    12 of 12 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Audible Reader United States 03-01-10
    Audible Reader United States 03-01-10 Member Since 2005

    somerandomguy

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Less Than One Star"

    I really enjoyed "The Historian", so I was looking forward to this, but it was perhaps the most boring thing I've ever listened to. She goes into ridiculous levels of detail about things that have no bearing on the story. I started to give up after the first of three parts, but didn't. I should have. Also, this is the first book I've listened to narrated by Treat Williams. I guess he's an OK actor, but I don't think he's much of an audiobook narrator.

    10 of 10 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rachel MuntinlupaPhilippines 02-23-10
    Rachel MuntinlupaPhilippines 02-23-10
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Calling all art lovers"

    It was a slow start and the narrator's voice takes a little getting used to but once you are caught up in the history and romance of it all it is worth the time. Definitely for grown-ups only. If you love sci-fi/action then this is not for you. It did however make me want to sketch again.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Vickie Chattanooga, TN, United States 01-30-10
    Vickie Chattanooga, TN, United States 01-30-10
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    "rather dull but pleasant at times"

    I found it curious that the stories of Robert's women was told in such excruciating detail and Robert's "recovery" was handled rather ham-fisted. Why both the wife and, especially, the lover felt the need to tell the psychiatrist about mind numbing details of the beginning of their relationship with patient was and still is beyond my ability to understand and appreciate. The relationship between the psychiatrist and the patient's ex-lover was not developed well in the least. None of the characters elicited warmth, empathy or sympathy.

    But, I am an older reader who had more patience with this rather poorly portioned and paced book, more so when the history of the painting was brought into the story.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Katie Saint Louis, MO, USA 03-01-10
    Katie Saint Louis, MO, USA 03-01-10
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    Overall
    "The Swan Thieves by Elizabeth Kostova"

    Dr. Andrew Marlowe receives a patient recommendation from a friend of his on a painter named Robert Oliver. Oliver was recently arrested for trying to stab a painting entitled The Swan Thieves. Oliver speaks to Marlowe only once, upon his first admittance to the psych hospital where he will be treated and refuses to speak again. Marlowe goes above and beyond, talking to Oliver's ex-wife, ex-lover, ex-colleagues and ex-acquaintances to try to get to the root of his problems. In the meantime, Oliver stays in his room at the hospital, being the perfect patient, painting the same woman over and over and over again. Who is this woman? Why does she have such a profound affect on Robert? And is she what drove him to the attack on the painting? Marlowe goes off in search of all of these answers to help his troubled patient, and the answers are not at all what he expected.

    I listened to the audio version of this. I found the story a little hard to follow. The narrators of the letters from Paris in the late 1800's reminded me so much of Antonio Banderas' voice I would giggle when they came on. The reading was very well done; Treat Williams as the lead Andrew Marlowe. However the narration and performance of one of the characters was so poignant, so strong, and so heartbreaking, that it garnered this review another star. Anne Heche as the voice of Kate Oliver, Robert's ex-wife. Her appearance is fairly brief, but her reading was the icing on the cake for me. I was almost in tears by the end of her section. I think if I would have read the book instead of listening to it I would not have finished it.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Janet H. Maddox Atlanta, GA 05-26-10
    Janet H. Maddox Atlanta, GA 05-26-10 Member Since 2010
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    "For lovers of finely crafted books"

    The Swan Thieves is a remarkably adept handling of a story that spans more than 100 years. The author and the readers handle the time jumps well. Anyone with an interest in art will find the story especially appealing.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    P?r SegersangSweden 02-13-10
    P?r SegersangSweden 02-13-10
    HELPFUL VOTES
    3
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    "Like Seinfeld without the laughter"

    Don't get me wrong, the audible representation of the book is all first class. Excellent reading and quality (if anything I'd like a higher bitrate but thats a general issue).
    I had high expectations here as I liked the historian, it was a very nice story with a nice flow to it that I like. This one started out fine, nice scenery and interesting events at the start. From there nothing happened for about 26 chapters. I haven't even gotten to the end yet, its all repetition and plain booring. So, be prepared for 26 chapters describing a painter trying too hard to depict the same lady over and over. I'm sorry but too me this was a complete disaster.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Richard Morgan, TX, USA 01-30-10
    Richard Morgan, TX, USA 01-30-10 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    Overall
    "Intriguing at first"

    Do not expect any similarity to Kostova's first novel. This one is intriguing initially, with the time shifts between current day, and late 19th Century France. The narrators do a good job of presenting the nuances of very finely "drawn" characters. However, as with too many notes in music, too many words, too many flashbacks, too many unresolved questions...all create a feeling of disappointment and a gradual wearing down of interest, to the point that I just finally gave up two thirds of the way through. Maybe I'll go back to it in a few months and finish, because I do love Elizabeth's writing style.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
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