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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 (841 )
5 star
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4 star
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1 star
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Overall
3.8 (284 )
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1 star
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Story
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  •  
    Dina LAKE ZURICH, IL, United States 01-29-10
    Dina LAKE ZURICH, IL, United States 01-29-10 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
    233
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    65
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    "Very Dispappointed"

    I loved the Historian and was looking forward to The Swan Thieves. I listened to the entire 18 hours hoping that it would come together in the end, but it didn't. The unethical psychiatrist, cheating spouses, etc. made for unloveable characters. But, I could have gotten over that if the plot hadn't been so disconnected. The readers were good, but they couldn't save this novel.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    01-28-10
    01-28-10 Listener Since 2005
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
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    1
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    "Kinda Embarrassing"

    I am a professional artist and teacher, and I am used to reading the depiction of artists "with a grain of salt". Not that we are that elusive, but every good artist can spot when their trade/craft is being portrayed instead of lived. I found the contemporary characters, especially the artists, in the book terribly banal and tiring. If I were actually reading the book instead of listening to it, I wouldn't have made it past chapter 5. As it was, I yawned through it, as I have a very long commute. I was also disappointed with her male characters. They were one-dimensional, monochromatic and without edges. The only breaks in the monotony are the flashbacks- but they are very rare.

    I read The Historian, in "real" form (book), it kept me up late into the night- I was riveted. Sadly, this book is pale in comparison to the last.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Alexis Richmond, CA, USA 01-23-10
    Alexis Richmond, CA, USA 01-23-10 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
    70
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    14
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    "Excellent Novel Superbly Read"

    I really enjoyed this novel. It was hauntingly lovely, and the readers were superb. I was very impressed with Sarah Zimmerman and John Lee, who read French-speaking characters, which can be particularly tricky. Ms. Zimmerman was especially charming. She made her character positively sparkle! Thank you, Elizabeth Kostova, and thank you to the entire cast for one of the most enjoyable listens I've heard this year!

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Christine Brooklyn, NY, USA 01-21-10
    Christine Brooklyn, NY, USA 01-21-10 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
    5
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    2
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    "Good, not too heavy listen"

    A good listen and easy to get wrapped up in. You'll like the characters and the pace of the book.
    *MILD SPOILER*
    The resolution is slightly predictable and the major problem resolved a little too quick and clean right at the end, but this does not diminish the hours of the story and the beautiful building of the characters.

    5 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    W.Denis Savannah, GA, United States 01-18-10
    W.Denis Savannah, GA, United States 01-18-10
    HELPFUL VOTES
    646
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    "Wonderful"

    In every aspect, this is one that rarely comes along and when it does I'd like to talk about it with everybody.

    11 of 16 people found this review helpful
  •  
    J. Hansen Denmark 01-24-10
    J. Hansen Denmark 01-24-10 Member Since 2014

    iwantit

    HELPFUL VOTES
    42
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    555
    23
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    Overall
    "No Dracula!"

    I loved The Historian. Read it twice. Listened once (it is abriged, booo!). In this book I really miss Dracula. The characters are so timid it makes me grind my teeths. They meet in scenes where near to nothing happens and they all keep track of what food they were eating, the color and texture of what clothes they were wearing and what the other perons wore, in those scenes where nothing happened. They are all so educated (to be polite) that they would never call a painting a painting but always a "canvas". Now if only the Prince of Darkness would pop up among them to spice things up - to bring some tension to the story and some urgency to the characters. But - no such luck.

    10 of 15 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kasey Portland, OR, USA 01-26-10
    Kasey Portland, OR, USA 01-26-10
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    "God Robert Oliver your such a Dick"

    The Swan thieves was a lovely listen and It held a grand mystery that grips your attention. It truly made you want to follow the story to the end. Its use of different viewpoints and time-periods was fantastic.

    That being said, the characters themselves all felt rather selfish and some downright unlikable. Plus after listening to this book for hours and hours and expecting some reward for sitting patiently through hours of well-written if useless exposition the ending was just......blah. There was no end really it just kinda of ...trailed off and decided it was done. I felt cheated.

    The book is beautiful but the end falls flat. I still recommend it to anyone who loves a well written book (but be prepared to listen to alot of people talking about painting)

    8 of 12 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sharon Gassville, AR, USA 02-11-10
    Sharon Gassville, AR, USA 02-11-10
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    "Loved it!"

    Outstanding story, and I enjoyed listening to it with the actors' accents and dramatic presentation -- a little music here and there. Great! I enjoy reading, and having a book to listen to allows me to make good use of my drive time. I also listen on my iPod while I'm doing housework.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    01-20-10
    01-20-10
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    "The Swan Thieves (unabridged)"

    Beautifully written and of course you can not go wrong with the narrators as they use their expert skills to bring this very well thought out book to life…worth the listen…

    6 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Katie Saint Louis, MO, USA 03-01-10
    Katie Saint Louis, MO, USA 03-01-10
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "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 6 people found this review helpful

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