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The Swan Thieves    by Elizabeth Kostova order for
Swan Thieves
by Elizabeth Kostova
Order:  USA  Can
Little, Brown & Co., 2009 (2009)
* * *   Reviewed by Kelly Thunstrom

Elizabeth Kostova ... does the author's name ring a bell? Unless you picked up her bestselling novel, The Historian, it probably won't. The Swan Thieves is Kostova's only other published work. She takes her time in crafting marvelously ingenious tales. It will probably take you a while to get to the end of The Swan Thieves. It should. The short chapters (all 106 of them) should be savored all the way to the wonderfully satisfying ending.

The story centers around Dr. Andrew Marlow, a psychiatrist who is trying desperately to find a way to help his newest patient ... gifted artist, Robert Oliver. Oliver is placed under Marlow's care when he tries to stab a painting in a museum. Oliver will not speak, so it is up to Marlow to try to put the pieces of the puzzle together. Along the way, he interviews many people from Oliver's past. They, sometimes reluctantly, tell his story. Interspersed with present day, we are taken back in time to late 1800s Paris, where we are introduced to Olivier Vignot, an elderly painter, and his muse, Beatrice de Clerval, through a series of letters between them.

Kostova masterfully alternates between the two stories, until we come to the heartbreaking conclusion and the connection between them. This is not a book that you can't put down; nor is it a book that you will breeze right through. But when the pieces come together, you will feel that you just read a high quality piece of literature.

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