The Swan Thieves by Elizabeth Kostova

16 Feb


Having read and loved Kostova’s first novel, The Historian, I was anxious to see how she would follow up her mega best selling debut. Would she suffer from second novel syndrome or give us another book of breath taking beauty?

Thankfully, The Swan Thieves is a much better book than The Historian. Part love story, part history lesson, part art story, The Swan Thieves is a novel of love and obsession. Dr, Marlow is given a patient by the name of Robert Oliver.

A brilliant painter, he is arrested when he tries to destroy a painting. When Dr. Marlow asks him why he did it, Robert replies “I did it for her” before he stops speaking all together.

Dr. Marlow is left with a mystery that needs solving. Why did Robert Oliver try to destroy a painting? Who is the woman he keeps painting over and over? To find these answers, he talks to Oliver’s ex wife, mistress and other people in Roberts life. But nothing is as it seems and Dr. Marlow is only beginning to peel away the layers of the onion…

It’s a solid if meandering novel. It’s not a page turner by any means, but this isn’t a bad thing. The way Kostova writes, you know that she has chosen every word very, very carefully. The novel reads like water flowing over rocks; there are a few bumpy parts, but the novel moves along beautifully at a slow and sensuous pace.

Much more assured and beautiful than The Historian, The Swan Thieves is really a gift from a Very Talented Writer.


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