Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The Swan Thieves

I just finished The Swan Thieves by Elizabeth Kostova, author of The Historian. Now, I have not read The Historian (I do plan on reading it) so this was my first exposure to Ms. Kostova's writing. At first glance, this book does not seem really exciting because it's about a painter who attacks a painting and the psychiatrist who tries to figure out what drove him to do it. Andrew Marlow, the psychiatrist, ends up having to go to the women in the painter's life in order to figure out the mystery because the painter refuses to speak.

Kostova's writing is beautiful and descriptive. She has a knack for turn of phrase. I am usually a bigger fan of sparse writing that gets a little more to the point, mixed with good dialogue to break the monotony of exposition and description. This book is filled with beautiful descriptions and is pretty light on dialogue, but I never felt overwhelmed by the lack of dialogue. She has the perfect balance of both to make a book that I could not put down. I just had to know what was going to happen next.

You can also tell that Kostova knows her history, painting methods, and that sort of thing. She is an intelligent writer who knows how to tell a thrilling and beautiful story. Throughout the book she interweaves letters written from a woman and her husband's uncle who lived in 1879.

I highly recommend this book for anyone who enjoys great modern literature, painting, and history.

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