Monday, April 19, 2010
The Swan Thieves by Elizabeth Kostova
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 nineteenth 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.
I received this book from Reader's Favorites for review purposes. This is the first audio book for adults that I have listened to in years, I usually listen with my children in the car so this was a nice change. I wasn't quite prepared for how long it would be, especially since I didn't want to listen to it with my children, but towards the end I was really enjoying it!
It had a bit of a slow start but I stuck it out, not only because I had agreed to review it, but also because I had so enjoyed The Historian a few years ago. I enjoyed how each of the characters had his or her own reader, Treat Williams read the main character, Anne Heche was another and then the other readers were also actors but not ones I was familiar with. It added a depth to the story and the characters and made them a little bit more real. It made it easy to hear whose point of view the story was being told from at any given time.
The story about Robert Oliver really drew me in, he is a painter who one day walks into a gallery with a knife to attack a painting. After he is hospitalized for his mental instability he stops talking altogether, not just for a little while but for months maybe even a year. Since I listened over the course of time I lost track of just how long he was silent for but it was quite a long time. During this time he kept painting the same woman who turns out to not be either his wife or ex-girlfriends but someone he has never met. Watching his doctor unravel the mystery involving letters from the late 1800's written in French and his silent patient draws the reader in. Marlowe meets with Oliver's ex-wife and starts to build a history for his patient based on the past. He talks with his former coworkers and his ex girlfriend. His search takes him to Europe and Mexico, New York and North Carolina. I couldn't imagine a doctor being that curious and interested in helping his patient that he would put in that amount of effort, time and expense, but the mystery really is lovely to watch unfold. I would highly recommend this book to other readers!