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Friday, February 26, 2010

The Swan Thieves by Elizabeth Kostova

When nationally renowned painter Robert Oliver attacts a painting with a knife in the National Gallery of Art, he is sent to a mental hospital and consequently becomes the patient of Andrew Marlow, a psychiatrist who also paints. Robert says only a few short sentences to Marlow and then refuses to talk at all. He spends his time painting the image of a woman over and over. In order to understand his patient, Marlow spends time talking to Robert's ex-wife and ex-lover. He finds out from these women that Robert has been obsessed with this woman for years. Marlow also reads several letters that Robert had in his possession that eventually help clear up the mystery of the woman and why Robert would attack the painting.
I enjoyed the story and all the painting references that made me wish I were an artist but I found that this novel tended to bog down in way too many details. The story line moved along much too slowly for my taste. Also, there just wasn't enough difference between the voices of Mary, Kate, and even Marlow (I kept thinking that he was female and had to remind myself that he wasn't.) It would have been a much better book if it were 100 pages shorter. Having said that, I really did like the story. There wasn't a whole lot of language or sex in it, well some sex and some of that was extra-marital, but just enough adult stuff to make it PG-16.

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