27 October 2011

The Swan thieves - book review

The Swan ThievesThe Swan Thieves by Elizabeth Kostova

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A psychiatrist, Andrew Marlow, has a patient, Robert Oliver, who attacked a painting in an art gallery with a knife. Oliver will not speak, and so to try to understand him Marlow visits and interviews people who had known Oliver, to try to understand his behaviour. As he uncovers more of Oliver's past, he finds it leads back into art history, and the history of the Impressionists in France.

In a way, the book follows a formula that has been used by other authors, such as Robert Goddard -- a mystery in the present whose answer is to be found in something that happened in the past.

I don't think it's qute up to the standard of the best of Goddard, but it's a lot better than his worst, and the pace is a bit more leisurely. It's the kind of book you can spin out, reading a chapter or two at bed time.

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