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.
©2010 Elizabeth Kostova (P)2010 Hachette Audio
I found the simularities and differences between the 19th and 21st century love stories striking.This story spoke to the artist within me - I could smell the paint and it just made me want to pick up a paint brush again. The story also renewed an old interest I had in art history. It made me curious about impressionism and the famous artists like Monet that we've heard about many times before.
The reading was very good, but it was made even better by the good writing.
After listening this book I immediately went to look for other books from the same author. The writer did excellent research on art history, which made the book interesting (not boring, as I would have thought reading this comment).
"***May contain Spoilers ! ***"
I bought this as I had really enjoyed Kostova's 'The Historian' and the subject of art is something I am interested in.
Unfortunately I found The Swan Thieves tedious, I had no sympathy towards any of the characters.
The whole story seemed to be finding out who the mysterious subject of Robert Oliver's paintings was, to me this was obvious from early on yet the main character a psychiatrist Andrew Marlow, who had all the info the reader had, failed to work it out and just spent all his time talking to people close to Oliver hoping to find the answer. These included Oliver's ex wife Kate and his girlfriend Mary, who although had gone out of her way to meet Marlow and talk to him then only felt able to write episodic letters to him, which unfolded her whole life history to him including a description of using a tampon (!). To be fair the story wasn't helped by the narrating, the only voice I enjoyed listening too was 'Mary', and 'Beatrice' just sounded like someone from 'Ello 'Ello. There were times when the timeline/voice changed and I found myself physically groaning. Maybe if I had read rather than listened to the book I would have enjoyed it more, but I doubt it. In fact I am over half way through and have decided to give up, something I haven't as yet done on an audio book, but have decided life is too short !
"Not as good as The Historian"
I, too, enjoyed Kostova's early work but found this novel hard going. I persevered to the end hoping it would get better, but it never did. Treat Williams gave an exceptionally poor narration which made a dull story even harder to listen to. Don't waste your time/money.
"Gives an interesting insight to visual arts"
The style is great, story is twisted and it gives a good insight to psychology and visual arts. It made me more interested in paintings. Narrators are great. There isn't too much action, it is more of a reflective or self-reflective book.
"There are much better books to read than this....."
I like many others I guess bought this on the strength of enjoying her The Historian. Unfortunately the story isn't as engaging and I didn't care for the characters or the plot ( there isn't much of one unfortunately). It's a shame the author was unable to produce as good a story as the Historian which was pretty creepy at times. This though was frankly, boring.
The English was poor and grating at times with unnecessary detail and long lists of information that again didn't add anything to it. The lack of an interesting storyline is perhaps the biggest disappointment.
Overall I gave two stars because the performance was so much better than the story! But this isn't good enough reason to buy the book, it just made it more bearable.
I don't want to be too negative here..........like I've said I don't rate the whole book which is a shame, so much hard work obviously went into it.
If this was even offered as a BOGO audible deal I wouldn't even bother. Too many much better books to read......
I'd read other negative reviews before reading and tried to keep an open mind. Unfortunately though this is another " I wouldn't bother" review.
"Not enough mystery in there, but a different story"
A warning to the fans of the Historian - this is a very different book, written in a different style. I still listened with interest, as it offers a glimpse into an artist's world and perhaps reality. The story is about the obsession of an artist and it is rich in characters, but something about the way the characters interact and tell their stories, it is not realistic, and it fails to grasp you, or touch you emotionally, as it sounds fake. Still, there is romance in the story and a little bit of true art history, I also liked that the story is read as a play, with a couple of narrators and different accents. Elizabeth Kostova for her love of Bulgaria did not fail to mention this faraway exotic country.
Found this quite dull, slow story full of flowery irrelevant descriptions to pad the story out. Shame as I quite liked The Historian. Disappointing.
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