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The Swan Thieves: A Novel ~Elizabeth Kostova

I read about 1500 pages a week; most of those are pages in books.   For every 2 non-fiction books I read I read one piece of fiction. I usually let my book groups pick the novels I read, because each of my two groups meet each month and each select a book.  This means I have the opportunity to read many books that I would pass by and take no notice of at all.   The fiction books help me understand human behavior, for if the writer is good they have developed a whole new character and interactions that most of us would not know or be privileged to witness.

I want to recommend The Swan Thieves to you, I had never heard of this book prior to it being brought to my attention for a book group gathering in December of this year.   I had not seen it on any of the lists that I browsed.

I found this book to be like a stroll in a garden/gallery, and I had to slow down my pace and rearrange my thinking in order to experience this story.   When I did this new rhythm, I found myself fully engaged in the author’s descriptions of the views that were being painted and the often silent characters revealed themselves in their art which was actually unseen by the reader except in the mind’s eye.

I could imagine an artist spending all day trying to capture the vision before them.

This is a mystery story told not with fast moving detective work, but rather through the psychiatrist’s eye of listening for clues and working to create the story and the personality underlying the character disorder.   He was a kind person and very thorough thus there were no descriptive passages of motives and direct actions; everything was explained through other character’s remembering and recalling of events.

Thieves is not a bodice- ripping, titillating, over- sexed romance novel, and yet it if filled with romance.  The elegance of the 19th century French lifestyle and the busy romance of the contemporary Washington DC.  were well mixed with the bohemian New York City and North Carolina southern, rural artistic community expressions.    I was able to create a good visualization of the characters and I based some of my feelings on how my friend John treats his wife and daughters.  There was a realness that did not need media hype.

I thought The Swan Thieves was a well written book and I admired the author’s style and word choice.  As I stated earlier, her descriptive passages were pleasure and not redundantly wordy.   The writing was one of my favorite parts of the story.

The other book I would recommend for brilliant writing, which I read this year, would be Cutting For Stone by Abraham Verghese a novel with a very fast tempo, mystery, and international politics and storytelling with a surgeon’s precision in the words.

Want to know more about Elizabeth Kostova?

This book was sold to Sony to be made into a motion picture.   I am sure the book will be better!

I highly recommend this book for the pure pleasure of reading, great story and well written prose.


Have you read a 5 star book recently that you would like to recommend?  Do you read mostly fiction or non-fiction?    What do you read for the pure pleasure of it?

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A Gift for YOU!  The reader of this Blog
I want to say thank you to all my readers and commenters. I appreciate your words and you stopping by to read.  So on November 24, 25, 26  I am offering up a gift of art and beauty to a random commenter.  I am mailing this gift myself so this offer is not limited by a publisher or author.  Please come by and discover my gift.

Happy Thanksgiving to all the folks in the USA!

Related Reading:
4 Great Books from my book group to read
The Love Ceiling
Olive Kitteridge

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2 Responses to “The Swan Thieves: A Novel ~Elizabeth Kostova”

  1. J.D. Meier Says:

    > slow down my pace and rearrange my thinking in order to experience this story
    I like the way you put that. I find that’s true as well with James Lee Burke. Well, partly because I have to constantly look up the meaning of the words he uses, but also because he paints such vivid imagery.

    Patricia Reply:

    I did not need to look up words, but I did look up various paintings and galleries that were referenced during this book…but the words were like paintings in a gallery and they painted such endearing pictures of each event…and then the mystery kept the pace moving.

    I did not want the book to end, but I have not found many positive reviews and it was panned by several – I could only find that the negative came from having read another book by this author and liking it better and that the sex was so subtle…but then the 19th century was subtle and elegant….Impressionism…

    I thought the other reviewers were showing their ignorance of history and of painting.

    The writing was just tops

    Thank you JD for coming by and commenting – Your words are appreciated on several levels :)
    Happy Thanksgiving