I gave this book away before I read it.
It was a mistake. Giving it away, I mean.
It happened innocently enough. I was summer cleaning my house, and I thought I wouldn’t have time to read it, so I passed it on to a local Friends of the Library store. The next day, I went to lunch with a group of friends. Here’s how the conversation went.
“Suzanne, I’m reading the most spectacular book I’ve read all year,” says Friend One.
“Oh, really? What’s the title?” I ask.
“The Swan Thieves.”
Friend Two gasps. “What a coincidence! I’m reading the very same book. I can’t put it down.”
They both look at me. “Have you heard of it?”
“I just gave it away,” I tell them. “It’s a novel about a painting and the book is gold with a picture of a swan and a woman on the cover, right?”
“That’s the one,” Friend Two agrees.
“You need to get that book back,” Friend One tells me. “You don’t want to miss it.”
After lunch, I slogged over to the bookstore, which was closed, so I couldn’t get it back before leaving on a trip the following day. However, while I was on vacation, I stopped in at a used bookstore, (one of my favorite things to do) and found another copy.
My friends were right. The Swan Thieves is story not easily described, and even harder to forget.
The author tells two stories in this novel. One is about a modern day doctor, trying to solve the mystery of why one of his patients is so obsessed with a particular painting, to the point of trying to destroy it. The doctor’s curiosity takes him on travels to other cities and countries, searching for the history behind the painting. The author artfully takes us back to the past, to a small circle of artist friends, and the story behind the painting.
Through the well-written flashbacks and the modern day interactions, the story develops one brush stroke at a time. As I read, I felt as if I were right on the page with the characters, they were so realistic and intriguing. Elizabeth Kostova has created a cross-genre novel that is engrossing and delightful.
I’m donating this new copy of The Swan Thieves to the bookstore as well, so someone else can enjoy this remarkable story. At least this time, I’ve read it.