The Swan Thieves – Elizabeth Kostova

Title: The Swan Thieves
Author: Elizabeth Kostova
ISBN: 9780316065788
Pages: 576
Release Date: January 12, 2010
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Genre: Literary Fiction
Source: Publisher
Rating: 4.25 out of 5

Summary:

When artist Robert Olivier attacks a painting in the National Gallery in Washington, DC, psychiatrist Andrew Marlowe is asked to take Olivier on as a patient.  Marlowe himself is a painter, and it is believed that he can connect with Olivier and comprehend why he took such a drastic action.  But what Marlowe doesn’t expect is that he will become personally involved in Olivier’s story, and that his need to understand will become an obsession.

Review:

I absolutely loved The Historian.  It’s one of my favorite novels of all time, one I hand sell to anyone who will listen.  Therefore, you can probably imagine how ridiculously high my expectations were when it came to Kostova’s second novel.  I had heard some mixed things about it before I picked it up, so my hopes were high but I didn’t want to expect too much and thus ruin the novel for myself.

Elizabeth Kostova proves The Historian wasn’t a fluke in The Swan Thieves.  Her prose is beautiful and deliberate.  I can’t praise her writing highly enough.  She weaves a tangled web through her language, drawing the reader in.  Her words tie together with the overall story of the novel – she manages to create suspense and a sense of urgency, yet convey beauty and tranquility simply through her words.

The story of The Swan Thieves is intriguing and very well-written.  As I got deeper into the story, I couldn’t put the book down – I had to know what was happening, to figure out what was coming and how it all connected together.  Kostova is a master at revealing information; she shows just enough to satisfy the reader, yet holds enough back to keep you hooked on the story.  It’s a delicate balance, yet Kostova seems to be a natural at it.

The Swan Thieves is divided between multiple voices, which can be tricky.  It’s difficult to write different, distinct voices that all have something worthwhile to say, yet Kostova does it well.  However, there is one narrator from the past, and transitions to her voice are jarring.  They didn’t mesh well with the novel for me, and I found myself hurrying through them in order to get back to the main story.  Luckily, they occur rarely in the novel, so it wasn’t too much of an issue.  Additionally, the twist at the ending wasn’t nearly satisfying enough for me.  My expectations were simply too high after The Historian.

Still, The Swan Thieves is a solid novel that I really enjoyed reading.  I found the writing to be simply delicious and looked forward to each page.  I was sad when I put it down because Kostova’s writing makes me want more.  It would be incredibly difficult to follow The Historian up with an equally amazing novel, yet Kostova manages to hold her own with The Swan Thieves.  I definitely recommend it, and if you haven’t read either of Kostova’s books, I’d recommend starting with The Swan Thieves.  It’s a great taste of amazing literary fiction.

Comments

  1. I hate that my review appears the same day as yours because yours is so much better! This was my first experience with Kostova and I agree with you – her writing is marvelous.

  2. I hate that my review appears the same day as yours because yours is so much better! This was my first experience with Kostova and I agree with you – her writing is marvelous.

  3. I knew you would be one of the first to review this book. (You and Kathy get a tie!) I felt the same way about The Historian. I was almost in a kind of mourning when it was over. So my expectations are high as well. EW gave it some mediocre grade, but I’m choosing to ignore them. They don’t feel the love like we do. Beautifully written review. I must read this soon!

  4. I knew you would be one of the first to review this book. (You and Kathy get a tie!) I felt the same way about The Historian. I was almost in a kind of mourning when it was over. So my expectations are high as well. EW gave it some mediocre grade, but I’m choosing to ignore them. They don’t feel the love like we do. Beautifully written review. I must read this soon!

  5. I absolutely loved The Historian, so I was a bit worried that Kostova might not be able to produce another great book, but according to your post (and Kathy’s) she has! Yay! I loved your post and was so glad to see that you liked it and found such positive things to write about it. I cannot wait to get a copy of this book and read it. Sounds like it will definitely be an excellent read. Cheers!

  6. I absolutely loved The Historian, so I was a bit worried that Kostova might not be able to produce another great book, but according to your post (and Kathy’s) she has! Yay! I loved your post and was so glad to see that you liked it and found such positive things to write about it. I cannot wait to get a copy of this book and read it. Sounds like it will definitely be an excellent read. Cheers!

  7. I still haven’t read The Historian, but I hope to soon. I’ve read a few mixed reviews of The Historian, but I really enjoyed what you had to say, and I’m looking forward to reading it too!

  8. I still haven’t read The Historian, but I hope to soon. I’ve read a few mixed reviews of The Historian, but I really enjoyed what you had to say, and I’m looking forward to reading it too!

  9. Thanks for the informative review. I am really looking forward to this book.

  10. Thanks for the informative review. I am really looking forward to this book.

  11. The lack of a big twist didn’t bother me, but I do think it might be slightly problematic for her after “The Historian,” because it is what people are expecting if they read her previous book. Particularly because her writing style, and even the structure of past and present, are so similar between the two books.

  12. The lack of a big twist didn’t bother me, but I do think it might be slightly problematic for her after “The Historian,” because it is what people are expecting if they read her previous book. Particularly because her writing style, and even the structure of past and present, are so similar between the two books.

  13. I am really excited about having a chance to read this book! Thanks for the good review of it.

  14. I am really excited about having a chance to read this book! Thanks for the good review of it.

  15. I bought a copy yesterday and I’m really looking forward to starting this one. I loved The Historian too. It ranks up there as one of my favorite books.

  16. I bought a copy yesterday and I’m really looking forward to starting this one. I loved The Historian too. It ranks up there as one of my favorite books.

  17. 576 pages and she made you want more? Now that’s a book worth reading!

  18. 576 pages and she made you want more? Now that’s a book worth reading!

  19. This is the first book I bought for my Nook! I’m really glad you enjoyed it. I can’t wait to dig in. :O)

  20. This is the first book I bought for my Nook! I’m really glad you enjoyed it. I can’t wait to dig in. :O)

  21. I need a thousand more hours every day. I want to read this!!!!!!!

  22. I need a thousand more hours every day. I want to read this!!!!!!!

  23. I’m waiting for my copy to arrive next week. I can’t wait to read this. I actually only read half of The Historian and never got back to it, but I’ve heard better things about this one. I hope to finish up The Historian one of these days. Thanks for the review

  24. I’m waiting for my copy to arrive next week. I can’t wait to read this. I actually only read half of The Historian and never got back to it, but I’ve heard better things about this one. I hope to finish up The Historian one of these days. Thanks for the review

  25. I loved this book too! Her prose is absolutely stunning. I loved every minute of this book and would gladly pick up her next one without knowing anything other than the fact that she wrote it.

  26. I loved this book too! Her prose is absolutely stunning. I loved every minute of this book and would gladly pick up her next one without knowing anything other than the fact that she wrote it.

  27. I’m really looking forward to reading this one. I really liked The Historian, except for the ending. However, Kostova’s writing is so wonderful that I would be willing to read pretty anything she puts out.

  28. I’m really looking forward to reading this one. I really liked The Historian, except for the ending. However, Kostova’s writing is so wonderful that I would be willing to read pretty anything she puts out.

  29. Wonderful review, I’m adding this one to my TBR.
    http://thebookworm07.blogspot.com/

  30. Wonderful review, I’m adding this one to my TBR.
    http://thebookworm07.blogspot.com/

  31. I’ve only heard good things about this and your review is wonderful. I have yet to read The Historian, but maybe I’ll take your advice and start with this one.

  32. I’ve only heard good things about this and your review is wonderful. I have yet to read The Historian, but maybe I’ll take your advice and start with this one.

  33. I loved The Historian. I’ve put a hold at the library on this one. Thanks for sharing your review!

  34. I loved The Historian. I’ve put a hold at the library on this one. Thanks for sharing your review!

  35. Great review! This is high onto my wishlist!

  36. Great review! This is high onto my wishlist!

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