&Ebook ☝ The Swan Thieves ⇞ Ebook or Kindle ePUB free

4.5 starsI am by no means artistic or creative, but this seductively written book immersed me in the world of art in a way that left me simply aching for I wanted to jump in the car, take a trip to the Metropolitan Museum of Art or the National Gallery, and sit quietly with the beauty of the paintings all around me The world and the mind of the artist appealed to me in a way that pleasantly surprised me and wholly captivated me Robert Oliver, a notable artist, has attempted to attack a painting in the National Gallery and is now consigned to the psychiatric care of Dr Andrew Marlow What would drive a man to commit such an act in particular a man that lives and breathes art himself An obsession is soon revealed an obsession that mystifies and leaves both reader and physician thoroughly intrigued We learn much of this story with alternate first person narratives, Dr Marlow s among them Marlow is a caring and gentle middle aged man, a bit of an amateur painter himself He is determined to unravel the mystery surrounding this complicated and silent new patient he is a dedicated physician who enjoys the simple pleasures in lifeNow when I dream big, it s for my patients, that they may eventually feel that ordinary cheerfulness of kitchen and orange, of putting their feet up in front of a television documentary, or the even bigger pleasures I imagine for them of holding down a job, coming home sane to their families, seeing the realities of a room instead of a terrible panorama of faces For myself, I have learned to dream small a leaf, a new paintbrush, the flesh of an orange, and the details of my wife s beauty, a glistening at the corners of her eyes, the soft hair of her arms in our living room s lamplight when she sits readingWe hear from two women that know Robert quite intimately and the character development is superb an element that is essential to my enjoyment of most any book A dual storyline of a nineteenth century female Impressionist painter is also introduced very slowly, first by a series of letters interspersed in the main narrative and later by chapters devoted to this portion of the plot A forbidden love is both haunting and tender The mystery surrounding this account may be the key to unlocking the mind of Marlow s gifted and troubled patient Initially, I wished that we had a bit from Robert s point of view, but that desire was quickly subdued when I realized that his narrative would have lessened much of the slow building suspense The shifts in narrator and in time in no way confused me and were done seamlessly and with purpose Elizabeth Kostova s love for and knowledge of art shines through in this novel and may very well make you enthralled by the magic of the brush as well If you are accustomed to a fast paced mystery, then this may not be a book for you But if you delight in a well crafted plot that is peeled away layer by layer, then this makes the grade for sure Exquisite prose and a dose of romance without being overly sentimental furthered my overall enjoyment I have read Kostova s The Historian, which I liked though a bit less than this, and I really wish she would write anotherThe painter shows muscles through skin, through clothing, but he or she depicts something else as well, something both elusive and immutable the warmth of the body, its heat and pulsing reality, life And, by extension, its movements, its soft sounds, the tide of feeling that rises and floods us when we are loved enough to forget ourselves It has been a long time since I ve read a book that made me hungry for the next word, whose 400 pages or so flew by in an instant, and that after finishing it, I could scarcely breathe and think about anything else for the next few hours Even the day after, I find my mind drifting to the complex plot, the inscrutable and complicated characters and mulling over the series of events, to see if there could have been any other way the story could have ended, or even begun I decided that no, the ending was as perfect as the beginning and the middle It came out of nowhere and slapped you across the face with exquisite timing and impeccable, seamless diction Every instant of the story was wrapped up in the end, but still lent a little mystery to the characters, still leaving you to think afterwards.My only critique is the relationship between Marlow and Mary should there have been romance Is it ethical, considering that Mary recently broke up with Robert Oliver, Marlow s patient Or is this not a case of sloppy plotting, but shrewd planning to bind each of the characters to each other and weave them in the fabric of the story I do not know.I highly recommend to anyone who loves art, psychology and family Especially to anyone who loves beautifully written books and who is looking for something to catch their eye and make them think afterwards. I think the reason that this book seems to polarise opinion is because nothing much happens in it Psychologist Robert Marlowe acquires the renowned painter Robert Oliver as his patient, and subsequently travels around meeting people who might be able to shed some light on the reasons behind Oliver s breakdown The majority of the book comprises the memories and insights of these people told in the voice of that particular individual, and so takes place outside the narrative which is really a convenient framework for these first person interludes This apparently frustrates a lot of people, but it s what made the book so appealing to me The Swan Thieves is not a book that is driven by action but by a gradual development of the characters encountered, all of whom are vivid and fascinating I thought the author used different points of view and writing styles well, blending first person narratives in the past and present tenses, third person narratives in the present tense and letters to create an elaborate whole piece by piece Usually this sort of switching irritates me, so it s a mark of the author s skill that in this case I thought it perfectly suited the book Each different bit of the writing told me about the characters and it was this gradual revelation and exploration which made this book such a pleasure to read. About 20 pages in I thought, this is crap, but I kept reading because I loved The Historian In retrospect, I should have stopped because this book was so badly written and just such a waste of time it made the Da Vinci Code look wonderful by comparison Every single character was an annoying pompous jackass and I hope they all die horribly.A better, thoughtful review as to the multitude of reasons behind my hating this book will be forthcoming And they are legion From glaring continuity errors to just the depiction of artists.blurgh When the psychiatrist Andrew Marlowe admits the famous painter Robert Oliver to his care at Goldengrove, he doesn t expect that one patient to change everything about his own life, even his ethics and morals Robert was arrested while trying to attack a painting by Gilbert Thomas based on the myth of Leda in the National Portrait Gallery Unable to break Robert s imposed vow of silence, he must try to find the impetus for Robert s breakdown and why he felt he had to destroy that painting by conversing with those willing to talk, primarily Robert s ex wife, Kate, and mysterious Mary But importantly, Marlowe needs to find out the identity of the striking woman Robert draws over and over againis she the woman who wrote the letters that Robert covets and rereads ad infinitum Is the woman his wife or perhaps Mary The deeper in he gets the Marlowe wonders if he is really doing this for his patient or for himself and he begins to unravel a mystery that has haunted many lives for over a century The narrative temporally flows between Marlow s search, Robert s past and 19th century Paris All leading to one revelationthe secret that haunts Robert Olliver.I have long been hoping for a new Elizabeth Kostova book I adored The Historian and could not wait to see what story she set pen to next After reading The Swan Thieves my desire for a new book was satedbut not in a good way I must honestly say that I am surprised I made it through this book, twenty pages in I really thought it was bad but was willing to give her the benefit of the doubt With one hundred pages left I almost gave up because I really hated the book I finished there was no great revelation, no fixing of all that I hated, but I was one with my dislike I had simmered from total hatred to strong dislike But truly I cannot in good conscious recommend this book to anyone, unless you like badly written prose with stupidly florid dialogue, simplistic plotting disguised and drawn out as a mystery with unlikable and unrealistic characters There is so much wrong with it, but let me just illuminate a few of the key problems I had so that I don t sound like some bitter harpy just venting against a book that obviously took a long time to write.The characters The main character, Robert Olliver, seems rather intriguing, but we never actually hear him speak for himself we only hear about him through those he surrounded himself with So he s the focal point but almost a non character because he is never a narrator, and these narrators oh, they got on my nerves Andrew Marlowe is a self centered self impressed psychiatrist with delusions of being an artist himself He thinks he s so wonderful that the young women around him must feel his longing gazes and return them in kind He has dubious skills as a psychiatrist, how could someone be a doctor, an educated man, and not figure out what was going on in the first five minutes Plus he breaks all manners of ethical codes in the end I personally like to call this the Robert Langdon effect Know it all older men who really couldn t find a door right in front of their noses Then there s Kate, Robert s ex, who is so weak and is just there for exposition of Robert s past and for Marlowe to fantasize about Mary though is the worst of the modern narrators I kept going reading the book because I noticed Marlowe narrated less so the book might get better Wrong Mary is a nubile young student who lusts after her own teacher But really how can she spare time for others when she loves herself so much Eventually she ensnares Robert just as she later ensnares Marlowe who seems to have no ethical qualms about getting involved in his patients recent ex The two people in fin de siecle France are just as bad, with the young Beatrice lusting after her husband s uncle who is a far older man.You might have caught one of my problems All the women are lusting after older men Some men are twenty years their senior, some What is with that It s like some male fantasy that all young women want them and their experience I understand if it s driven by plot or character development, but here it just seemed a given that in this world the author has created all young women want older men I would say that the author was a middle aged man if I didn t know better.Onto other character flaws The artists I have been around artists my entire life My parents ran a publishing company which published books as well as fine art prints My mother was an artist I am an artist I went to school for a Bachelor s Degree in art I am currently back in school getting a degree in Graphic Design There is one thing I can say with 100% certainty ARTISTS DON T BEHAVE LIKE THIS Yes they can be self impressed, self centered and messed up But all different in their own quirky way I think Kostova captured what an artist embodies most with Robert in the miasma of his presencebut all the other artists I m sorry but they don t spend every second of every day thinking about how they would capture the light, what brush they would use, what exact tube of painton and on about this minutiae that, yes, artists do think about, but not only that The bizarre hyper real artists that she has created live in a little art bubble where there s only art That s not how life works If she was trying to show that little has changed over time, how things repeat themselves and how art has basically not changed, she has failed and also annoyed me in the process Some people have said that this book inspired them to paint and go out and be an artist If they think that this is what it s like being an artist they are deluded.But all that is secondary to the predictable plot and the bad writing This book was in desperate need of culling A couple hundred pages could have been trimmed All the time wasted setting up reflections and echos of the past in the present just seemed bogged down with all the unnecessary ephemera thrown in I was able to figure out the twist fairly quickly There was no big surprise I think this also has to do with how conventions have changed over time When you read Bleak House by Charles Dickens, or even Lady Audley s Secret by Mary Elizabeth Braddon the Victorian morals make the secrets not that big a deal to us living in the 21st Century There was so many ways she could have pushed it or tied it together I kept thinking about how Robert s obsession with the painting could be pushed in a Hitchcockian direction a la Vertigo and Madeline s obsession with the painting at the Palace of the Legion of Honor But no just young women and old men There was one line that was so bad I laughed out loud because a trashy romance novel would not have even published it I would quote it here but reviewers are requested to not quote from the reader copiesone can hope it will be out by then, but I doubt it But overall what got to me was her sentence structure is often fragmented and contradictory Like she s stringing together adjectives, often with words that are polar opposites Oh, and on a final notecontinuity errors If someone is born in 1947 they couldn t be a small child going to the Rockefeller Christmas show that same year This isn t The Time Traveler s Wife This book was a major disappointment and I really wonder how it will do Maybe the people who liked The Da Vinci Code can pick this up Simplistic mystery, not well written, with an aging hero who thinks he s hot shit yeah, it might yet be a best seller, but those who loved The Historian are warned to stay away. I can t believe that the average rating on this book is only 3.41 I think because of that lowish average I went in to this book expecting a little less but I thought this book was amazing The whole time I was reading it, I thought, if I was to ever write a book, this is what I would want the voice to sound like I absolutely loved her use of language, her writing style great detail, but not overdone, beautiful character development with just enough left to the imagination Robert was for the reader just as he was for each of the characters who knew him He was a huge presence without really doing a whole lot to contribute Dominate, yet absent Hard to condemn, but hard to like I came to adore Beatrice de Clerval, as did everyone else apparently Beatrice was a beautiful woman, with the passion of a great artist, which of course she was I enjoyed the pace of this book This tale was a mystery, but realistic No explosive Hollywood style occurrences, but a slow unfolding of suspicions that are later confirmed I liked the parallels to the Greek myth of Leda and the Swan My cousin Krystle let me borrow this book, and when she gave it to me she described it as sad but so lovely I couldn t put it in better terms I love this author, I can t wait read her other book. There were things I enjoyed in this novel including some of the writing with its descriptions of art, although, all in all, it was much about nothing It took too long for the parallel stories to merge and to be connected, and by the time it was done, I was fed up and just wanted to be done with it I would probably not recommend it to my friends. The Swan Thieves, Elizabeth Kostova s sopho effort after The Historian, is altogether a very satisfying experience from beginning to end It s nearly 600 pages long, and luckily it uses the pages well It doesn t lag or become dull in places instead, it moves forward at a slow but steady pace and reveals secrets bit by bit Kostova lays out the pieces quite clearly so that even a half attentive reader will figure out the secrets before they re explicitly confirmed Some reviews have suggested this is a flaw, but I m not convinced that the author was trying to make any of the revelations shocking Just from the way she chose to reveal bits here and there, I think that the reader is supposed to make these connections along with the main character After all, the main character says than once that he suspected certain truths long before he finds his proof, and so should the reader.I was genuinely interested in all the characters and their stories, and just like in The Historian, Kostova used her powerful descriptive ability to bring things to life rather than the Eastern European cities that popped out of The Historian s pages, The Swan Thieves is full of descriptions of paintings and sketches that don t need any visual illustration for me to picture them in my mind.The author could have fleshed out the ending encounter between the main character and his patient a bit endings seem to be Kostova s weakness, but this book s ending was far and away much better than the strange letdown of The Historian s closure Definitely recommended, and I already look forward to the author s next book. &Ebook ☞ The Swan Thieves ☘ Kostova S Masterful New Novel Travels From American Cities To The Coast Of Normandy, From The Late Th Century To The Late Th, 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 HopePsychiatrist Andrew Marlowe, 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 Th Century To The Late Th, 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 I want to watch an artist paint, to smell the fumes emanating from the paint brush, to see the forms take shape on the once blank canvas I want to feel the intensity of an artist s focus.Maybe this is why this book captured my reading sensibility and transported me to Robert Oliver s world of impressionism and mystique I didn t quite grasp the intruding figure that shackled this painter s mind and left him a bit unhinged, but the sanity of the artist has never been mine to understand I choose instead to bask in the visceral, in the ebb and flow of the life on the canvas.If art is a feeling, then painting is that feeling expressed in shapes and colorsThe painter shows muscles through skin, through clothing, but he or she depicts something else as well, something both elusive and immutable the warmth of the body, its heat and pulsing reality, life And, by extension, its movements, its soft sounds, the tide of feeling that rises and floods us when we are loved enough to forget ourselves After revisiting my review of The Historian, I realized that I m not convinced by Kostova s mystery there is not the expected crescendo that leaves me spellbound However, I don t read too many contemporary five hundred page novels these days, unless from authors I trust And I ve always loved and trusted the graceful simplicity of Kostova s writing, the way her words glide across the page with a rhythm that advances plot, dialogue, and exposition in integrated fashion I was lured by the story of the painter, Robert Oliver, and the women and psychiatrist who circled his life his wife, his lover, the mysterious Beatrice, and Dr Marlow Oliver lives in a world of MFAs and art shows, a world of art professors and great collegiate art programs, a world that most artists and writers dream of, and yet even the celebrity artist and professor has inner turmoilHow could I become an artist like Professor Oliver unless I could lose myself in front of a whole group of people, lose myself like that to everything but the problem at hand, the sound of my pencil on the page and the flow of line emerging from it There is love and heartbreak, partnership and betrayal, but passion is elucidated passion and the treachery of purpose The narrative induces the elegance of 1800 France, while still placing the reader carefully back into the modern era If you appreciate art, or art history, you will love the beautiful evocation of French Impressionism as well as the ride you take with art across centuries, with a few love stories as your anchor, of course. After loving The Historian I was looking forward to reading Ms Kostova s sopho effort I really couldn t have been thrilled when I won it from a Goodreads First Reads giveaway So the disappointment I felt when The Swan Thieves just didn t live up to my hopes was that much keener.The main character, Dr Marlow is an amateur painter and a psychiatrist, who throughout the book shows little regard for the ethical standards of that profession I can t say I disliked him, though, because he simply didn t engender any kind of emotional response from me I found him very blah and unsympathetic His patient, Robert Oliver, is a painter who was arrested for trying to damage a painting at the National Gallery, and I didn t find him particularly sympathetic either I think Ms Kostova was going for the tortured artist type, but it didn t work for me Anyway, after a single short conversation with Dr Marlow, Robert lapses into complete silence But he draws and paints a single woman over and over and over he is absolutely obsessed with her So, logically, in order to solve the mystery of his patient s silence, Dr Marlow becomes obsessed as well.Ignoring any other patients he might have had, Dr Marlow takes weeks off work to track down Robert s acquaintances, poses as a reporter to get information out of Robert s previous co workers, interviews Robert s ex wife and ex girlfriend extensively, steals his patient s property yes, it was originally stolen by his patient and Marlow returned it to its rightful owner, but still , and flies to both Acapulco and Paris to figure out what s going on After all of this footwork and research and delving into Impressionist painters lives, Dr Marlow puts the pieces together, discovers the firsthand account of what happened to the woman Robert is obsessed with and relays the information to Robert Who, as it turns out, actually already knows pretty much the whole story, but decides to start talking again becausewell, I m not really sure So Dr Marlow tells him he ll need to stay on his medication and give him a call before he does anything rash again, and he s free to go Interesting treatment plan Dr Marlow doesn t mention of course, that he s gotten his patient s ex girlfriend pregnant while on that trip to Acapulco and they re getting married.The story was lacked credibility, the relationships were unconvincing, the characters uninteresting A very disappointing second book from Ms Kostova Lucky for her, I reserve one star ratings for the absolute dregs of the literary barrel But giving it two stars is a stretch.For book reviews, come visit my blog, Build Enough Bookshelves.