The Swan Thieves by Elizabeth Kostova

The Swan Thieves by Elizabeth Kostova: Dr. Andrew Marlowe, psychiatrist, tracks down the three major women in the life of painter Robert Oliver to figure out why the man attacked a painting in the National Portrait Gallery. His wife (Kate) and his mistress (Mary) both tell abridged versions of their life stories, which are interesting but not especially relevant. Interspersed are letters from 1879 between a young painter (Beatrice) and her husband’s uncle (Olivier). The ending is long in coming but predictable nonetheless, and somehow unsatisfying as well. That said, I very much enjoyed this book, if only for the passionate descriptions of painting, both the act and the appreciation of. It filled me with a longing to paint, to draw, even just to visit an art gallery. Sure, the story didn’t really go anywhere, but for once that didn’t bother me. Still, I’m not sure who I’d recommend this to – maybe a struggling artist in need of inspiration. It certainly inspired me.

The audio version of this book is decent, with a full cast of narrators. I could have done without the occasional music in the background, and I saw no reason for Beatrice and Olivier to read with such obnoxiously fake French accents, but otherwise it was pretty good.

Also posted on BookCrossing.
Read as part of the Books Won Reading Challenge.

  1. I think the music would likely get on my nerves too.

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