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The Resource The swan thieves : a novel, Elizabeth Kostova

The swan thieves : a novel, Elizabeth Kostova

Label
The swan thieves : a novel
Title
The swan thieves
Title remainder
a novel
Statement of responsibility
Elizabeth Kostova
Creator
Subject
Genre
Language
eng
Summary
Psychiatrist 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
Storyline
Pace
Tone
Writing style
Review
  • Psychiatrist Andrew Marlow seems ideally suited to take on a troubled painter as a client, since he is a painter himself. Gifted artist Robert Oliver attempted to slash a canvas at the National Gallery of Art and now refuses to speak. Marlow, in awe of Oliver’s talent, begins to obsessively research the mute artist’s life, trying to identify the woman he keeps painting over and over again. As Marlow learns more from Oliver’s ex-wife and young lover, he eventually travels to France, unraveling a mystery about a female French impressionist. In this extravagantly romantic novel about love, madness, and art, Kostova rotates the narrative voice among the psychiatrist, the ex-wife, and the lover. Meanwhile, letters written between two lovers who were painters in the 1870s are interwoven into the narrative. Although the author plays up the stereotype of the mad artist, her writing about painting is frequently stunning, both in her meticulous descriptions of the techniques of the craft and her cinematic portrayals of the paintings themselves. This novel is not as fast-paced as her best-selling Historian (2005), nor does it contain the chills and thrills that gave that one such wide appeal. Yet fans of other novels about painters, such as Girl in Hyacinth Blue (1999) and Girl with a Pearl Earring (2000), are sure to love this one. -- Wilkinson, Joanne (Reviewed 10-15-2009) (Booklist, vol 106, number 4, p6)
  • [Signature] Reviewed by Katharine WeberElizabeth Kostova made a dramatic debut in 2005 with her megabestselling The Historian . The first debut novel to hit the New York Times bestseller list at #1, The Historian has been published in 44 languages, has more than 1.5 million copies in print, and there's a Sony film in the works. A hefty, quirky, historical vampire thriller that took 10 years to write and for which a reported $2 million advance was paid, The Historian has managed through sheer bulk and majestic grandeur to confer upon itself the literary weight of Umberto Eco's The Name of the Rose , even as it offers up some of the easy delights and generic writing skimps that put it on the Da Vinci Code shelf.The Swan Thieves revisits certain themes and strategies of The Historian , chief among them an academic hero who is drawn into a quest for knowledge about the central mystery, only to develop an obsession that becomes the driving force of the plot. Each chapter marks a point of view shift from the previous one, with the narrative shared among a variety of characters telling the story in a variety of ways. The events range from the present moment back to the 19th century of the painters Beatrice de Clerval and her uncle Olivier Vignot, whose intertwined lives, letters, and paintings are at the heart of the story.This time out, Kostova's central character, Andrew Marlow, has a license to ask prying questions as he unravels the secrets and pursues the truth, because he is a psychiatrist. (Before Freud, genre quest novels depended on sleuths like Sherlock Holmes to play this role.) Even though Marlow comes across as a sensible, trained therapist, after only the briefest of encounters with his newly hospitalized patient, the renowned painter Robert Oliver, Marlow develops an obsessive desire to solve the mystery of why Oliver attempted to slash a painting in the National Gallery. Marlow is himself a painter, and the Oliver case has been given to him because of his knowledge of art. But Oliver is uncooperative and mute, though he conveniently gives Marlow permission to talk to anyone in his life before falling silent. Oliver's inexplicable behavior, which includes poring over a stolen cache of old letters written in French, triggers what I can only call a rampant countertransference response in Marlow, whose overwhelming obsession becomes a strange and frequently far-fetched journey of discovery as he persists to the point of trespass and invasion. Is this the crossing of the “ultimate border” promised by the ARC's jacket copy, the enactment of the fantasy of one's therapist developing an obsessive fascination that blots out all other reality?Less urgent in its events than The Historian , The Swan Thieves makes clear that Kostova's abiding subject is obsession. Legions of fans of the first book have been waiting impatiently, or perhaps even obsessively, for this novel. The Swan Thieves succeeds both in its echoes of The Historian and as it maps new territory for this canny and successful writer.Katharine Weber's fifth novel, True Confections, will be published by Shaye Areheart Books in January. --Staff (Reviewed November 30, 2009) (Publishers Weekly, vol 256, issue 48, p28)
  • /* Starred Review */ A painting has been attacked at the National Gallery of Art, and the assailant—Robert Oliver, a painter of notoriety in his own right—isn't speaking. It is left to psychiatrist Andrew Marlow—a hobbyist painter himself—to unravel the puzzle of Robert's manic behavior. With a mysterious packet of letters and the testimony of Robert's ex-wife and ex-girlfriend as guides, Marlow dives into a mystery of romance and impressionist art dating back to late 19th-century France. Love and obsession are the primary themes of Kostova's long-awaited second novel (after The Historian ), which stretches across three centuries and renders just the right amount of drama. The luxurious artistic detail and richly drawn characters will pull in readers, who will be hard-pressed to stop turning pages. VERDICT Fans of Richard Matheson's What Dreams May Come and Somewhere in Time , both explorations of love across time and space, and readers of Tracy Chevalier and Audrey Niffenegger will enjoy Kostova's strong sophomore effort, which is sure to be a best seller and a suitable choice for book clubs. Highly recommended. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 9/15/09; nine-city author tour.]—Leigh Wright, Bridgewater, NJ --Leigh Wright (Reviewed November 1, 2009) (Library Journal, vol 134, issue 18, p57)
  • Kostova follows up her blockbuster debut about the undead (The Historian, 2005) with a romance about a contemporary painter's obsession with an undiscovered 19th-century Impressionist. After he attempts to slash the painting Leda at the National Gallery in Washington, D.C., respected artist Robert Oliver is committed to a mental hospital under the care of psychiatrist Andrew Marlow (think Heart of Darkness). A painter himself, Marlow is fascinated by his patient, who refuses to speak and paints the same dark-haired woman over and over. "When I asked him whether he was sketching from imagination or drawing a real person," Marlow remembers, "he ignored me more pointedly than ever." Then Robert lends Marlow a package of letters written in the late 1870s by aspiring painter Batrice de Clerval Vignot to her husband's uncle Olivier Vignot, an established artist at the Paris Salon. Knowing he is stretching professional boundaries, Marlow goes to North Carolina to visit Robert's charming, pragmatic ex-wife and tracks down the spirited painter Mary Bertison, with whom Robert later lived in D.C. Both women loved the artist and felt they lost him to the woman in the painting. Marlow himself falls increasingly under Batrice's spell as he reads letters tracing her growing feelings for Uncle Olivier. The psychiatrist, a 52-year-old bachelor, is also drawn to Mary despite the questionable professional ethics of dating a patient's ex-girlfriend. With Robert tucked away painting his Batrice in silence, Marlow travels to Mexico with Mary, then alone to Paris to trace the life of the real Batrice and track down her secret paintings of swans; short chapters set in 1879 reveal what happened to her and her work. Kostova's theme is creative obsession and what everyday boundaries can be broken in its name; the novel seems to favor the most romantic answer.Neither Robert's decisions nor Marlow's make a lot of sense, but lush prose and abundant drama will render logic beside the point for most readers. (Kirkus Reviews, November 9, 2009)
http://library.link/vocab/ext/novelist/bookUI
334917
Cataloging source
DLC
http://library.link/vocab/creatorName
Kostova, Elizabeth
Dewey number
813/.6
Index
no index present
Literary form
fiction
http://library.link/vocab/resourcePreferred
True
http://library.link/vocab/subjectName
  • Psychiatrists
  • Art appreciation
  • Painters
  • Art appreciation
  • Painters
  • Psychiatrists
  • Washington (D.C.)
  • France
Label
The swan thieves : a novel, Elizabeth Kostova
Instantiates
Publication
Carrier category
volume
Carrier category code
  • nc
Carrier MARC source
rdacarrier
Content category
text
Content type code
  • txt
Content type MARC source
rdacontent
Control code
754337
Dimensions
25 cm
Edition
First edition.
Extent
564 pages
Isbn
9780316065788
Lccn
2009031954
Media category
unmediated
Media MARC source
rdamedia
Media type code
  • n
System control number
  • (Sirsi) i9780316065788
  • (OCoLC)429227932
Label
The swan thieves : a novel, Elizabeth Kostova
Publication
Carrier category
volume
Carrier category code
  • nc
Carrier MARC source
rdacarrier
Content category
text
Content type code
  • txt
Content type MARC source
rdacontent
Control code
754337
Dimensions
25 cm
Edition
First edition.
Extent
564 pages
Isbn
9780316065788
Lccn
2009031954
Media category
unmediated
Media MARC source
rdamedia
Media type code
  • n
System control number
  • (Sirsi) i9780316065788
  • (OCoLC)429227932

Library Locations

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