The Swan Thieves
  • The Swan Thieves
  • The Swan Thieves

The Swan Thieves

3.4 320
by Elizabeth Kostova
     
 

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Psychiatrist Andrew Marlow, devoted to his profession and the painting hobby he loves, has a solitary but ordered life. When renowned painter Robert Oliver attacks a canvas in the National Gallery of Art and becomes his patient, Marlow finds that order destroyed. Desperate to understand the secret that torments the genius, he embarks on a journey that leads him

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Overview

Psychiatrist Andrew Marlow, devoted to his profession and the painting hobby he loves, has a solitary but ordered life. When renowned painter Robert Oliver attacks a canvas in the National Gallery of Art and becomes his patient, Marlow finds that order destroyed. Desperate to understand the secret that torments the genius, he embarks on a journey that leads him into the lives of the women closest to Oliver and a tragedy at the heart of French Impressionism.

Kostova's masterful new novel travels from American cities to the coast of Normandy, from the late 19th century to the late 20th, from young love to last love. THE SWAN THIEVES is a story of obsession, history's losses, and the power of art to preserve human hope.

Editorial Reviews

Donna Rifkind
The many ardent admirers of The Historian, Elizabeth Kostova's 2005 first novel, will be happy to learn that her second book offers plenty of the same pleasures. Like The Historian, the new novel ranges across a variety of richly described international locales, both antique and modern. There is once again an assortment of narratives, all of which converge to solve a central mystery. Kostova again pays punctilious attention to the details of her characters' working lives (archival scholarship in the first book, painting in the second). And although the two novels' subjects are worlds apart, there is a shared romantic premise, in which the past is forever imposing itself onto the present, the dead onto the living.
—The Washington Post
Library Journal
A painting has been attacked at the National Gallery of Art, and the assailant—Robert Oliver, a painter of notoriety in his own right—isn't speaking. It is left to psychiatrist Andrew Marlow—a hobbyist painter himself—to unravel the puzzle of Robert's manic behavior. With a mysterious packet of letters and the testimony of Robert's ex-wife and ex-girlfriend as guides, Marlow dives into a mystery of romance and impressionist art dating back to late 19th-century France. Love and obsession are the primary themes of Kostova's long-awaited second novel (after The Historian), which stretches across three centuries and renders just the right amount of drama. The luxurious artistic detail and richly drawn characters will pull in readers, who will be hard-pressed to stop turning pages. VERDICT Fans of Richard Matheson's What Dreams May Come and Somewhere in Time, both explorations of love across time and space, and readers of Tracy Chevalier and Audrey Niffenegger will enjoy Kostova's strong sophomore effort, which is sure to be a best seller and a suitable choice for book clubs. Highly recommended. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 9/15/09; nine-city author tour.]—Leigh Wright, Bridgewater, NJ\
Kirkus Reviews
Kostova follows up her blockbuster debut about the undead (The Historian, 2005) with a romance about a contemporary painter's obsession with an undiscovered 19th-century Impressionist. After he attempts to slash the painting Leda at the National Gallery in Washington, D.C., respected artist Robert Oliver is committed to a mental hospital under the care of psychiatrist Andrew Marlow (think Heart of Darkness). A painter himself, Marlow is fascinated by his patient, who refuses to speak and paints the same dark-haired woman over and over. "When I asked him whether he was sketching from imagination or drawing a real person," Marlow remembers, "he ignored me more pointedly than ever." Then Robert lends Marlow a package of letters written in the late 1870s by aspiring painter Beatrice de Clerval Vignot to her husband's uncle Olivier Vignot, an established artist at the Paris Salon. Knowing he is stretching professional boundaries, Marlow goes to North Carolina to visit Robert's charming, pragmatic ex-wife and tracks down the spirited painter Mary Bertison, with whom Robert later lived in D.C. Both women loved the artist and felt they lost him to the woman in the painting. Marlow himself falls increasingly under Beatrice's spell as he reads letters tracing her growing feelings for Uncle Olivier. The psychiatrist, a 52-year-old bachelor, is also drawn to Mary despite the questionable professional ethics of dating a patient's ex-girlfriend. With Robert tucked away painting his Beatrice in silence, Marlow travels to Mexico with Mary, then alone to Paris to trace the life of the real Beatrice and track down her secret paintings of swans; short chapters set in 1879 reveal what happened to her and herwork. Kostova's theme is creative obsession and what everyday boundaries can be broken in its name; the novel seems to favor the most romantic answer. Neither Robert's decisions nor Marlow's make a lot of sense, but lush prose and abundant drama will render logic beside the point for most readers. Author tour to New York, Boston, San Francisco, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, Ann Arbor, Raleigh, Seattle, Portland, Ore.
Washington Post
"The many ardent admirers of The Historian will be happy to learn that The Swan Thieves offers plenty of the same pleasures."
Associated Press Staff
"A must-read for lovers of historical fiction....The Swan Thieves shows the same meticulous historical research and scene-setting description that elevated The Historian from a vampire tale to a work of art."
Denver Post
"A compelling story....Fans of The Historian have been waiting a long time for a new work from Kostova. They won't be disappointed."
BookPage
"Kostova's eloquent prose possesses the power to both transport and inspire."
Entertainment Weekly
"Kostova knows how to craft a breathless ending."

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780316043663
Publisher:
Little, Brown and Company
Publication date:
01/12/2010
Edition description:
Large Print
Pages:
791
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.30(h) x 2.20(d)

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