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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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What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 3.7 out of 5.0
  • 5 Stars
    275
  • 4 Stars
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  • 2 Stars
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Performance

  • 4.1 out of 5.0
  • 5 Stars
    175
  • 4 Stars
    117
  • 3 Stars
    62
  • 2 Stars
    20
  • 1 Stars
    12

Story

  • 3.9 out of 5.0
  • 5 Stars
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  • 4 Stars
    106
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  • 1 Stars
    23
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  • Overall
  • Kasey
  • Portland, OR, USA
  • 01-26-10

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 13 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

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 8 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

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…

7 of 12 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Katie
  • Saint Louis, MO, USA
  • 03-01-10

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 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Alexis
  • Richmond, CA, USA
  • 01-23-10

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!

4 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Rachel
  • MuntinlupaPhilippines
  • 02-23-10

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 9 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Warm and Gentle Flow

This book is well written. The book drew me into each scene as if I were actually there. It is one I will read and listen to more than once.

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

A Great Writer

Elizabeth Kostova's writing style is excellent. Very clean and readable. This story teaches you something about painting, a subject about which I knew almost nothing. The characters are very vivid and well developed. There is a mystery and it is pretty good and Kostova is very good at teasing out the clues as the book progresses. This story had a moment or two where it felt it moved a little slower than I would have liked it to go, however, I believe that is also a sign of a very compelling story. I equate this story to experiencing a piece of art. The performance of the book is excellent and is a cast of multiple readers. Each reader gives added dimension to the characters and definitely is an enhancer to the story.

I would recommend: read the book. Then read Kostova's other work, The Historian, which is even better.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

I found a new favorite author!

Wow - what amazing plot development, characterization, and depth! I thoroughly
enjoyed The Historian. That made me want to find more of Ms. Kostova's work. Brava! Your brilliant writing has a new fan and follower! I will definitely be recommending her books to others as The Historian was recommended to me. The audio version was very well read, giving an additional level of appreciation!

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Good fine-art love story told over a dual plot

Would you listen to The Swan Thieves again? Why?

It is a struggle to say whether I will listen again. I enjoyed little of the narration, but the knowledgeably told impressionist references made for an unusual and gratifying context. The story is well written and engaging throughout.

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Swan Thieves?

The rounded, major character, Mary, has important relationships with both the protagonist and the antagonist, but a defining scene is shared with a minor character, when she silently admires and harshly judges a handsome younger man, kisses him, and walks away.

What didn’t you like about the narrators’s performance?

I was not fond of the narration.

Who was the most memorable character of The Swan Thieves and why?

The antagonist, Robert Oliver, is the most intriguing and memorable character.

Any additional comments?

This is a well crafted and well written story in a cultural-historical framework. It is a smart and enjoyable book.