Archive for October 22nd, 2010

Review: Elizabeth Kostova’s The Swan Thieves

22 October 2010

By Christina Morin

As I sat waiting in the Garda National Immigration Bureau the other day – my yearly punishment for not being Irish – I decided to do a little light reading. The book I had to hand was The Swan Thieves (2010), by Elizabeth Kostova. I had picked it up a while back during one book sale or another, knowing very little about it except that I loved Kostova’s 2006 novel, The Historian. Within the first few pages, I was hooked and found myself in a rather exhilarating state of immersion in a fictional world. I just didn’t want to put the book down! A good sign, I always think, and a credit to the author’s ability to create a fantasy world that is at once mundane and extraordinary. What I particularly liked about The Historian and again with The Swan Thieves is the way in which Kostova weaves together distinctly separate but also intrinsically linked historical narratives – one present day, and one nineteenth century or earlier. While The Historian told a chilling tale of tracking the real life (er… real living dead) Dracula in twenty-first century London and Budapest, The Swan Thieves narrates the strange obsession of gifted painter Robert Oliver with a dead Impressionist artist he neither knew nor had any connection to. Read more