I was super excited when I saw this book, having read the author's other book The Historian. Unfortunately it didn't match up to the author's first effort. While I had found it took a while for The Historian to get going, The Swan Thieves literally took until about the last 5 chapters to get going! Not so good.
The story revolves around an artist who is obsessed with painting a woman. A woman who, it turns out, is dead and is one he's never met. After attacking a painting, he ends up in a mental hospital where his therapist sets off on a mission to find out what it was that caused this man to attack a painting and along the way, naturally, has his own journey of self discovery through the people he meets and the journeys they lead him on to seek out the reason behind his patient's arrival at his clinic.
Other characters in the book are the artist's wife and girlfriend, the woman who features in the paintings and her lover; and the woman's daughter and partner. The author brings in the subject of the paintings through a series of letters she and her lover write to each other and thus cleverly brings together the current storyline and the historical context its based on.
All of the characters are interwoven into the story throughout the book and slowly (emphasis on slowly!) help to finally bring together the entire background to the artist's attack on the painting in the museum that occurred right at the start of the book.
Given her first book, Elisabeth Kostova is very much into weaving out an elaborate story, with lots of detail and happy coincidences thrown in for good measure. Unfortunately she fails to keep the pace going on what otherwise could have been an excellent novel. Alas, it was disappointing at best.
Rating: 2 out of 5
Why: While the plot (in the end) was rather exciting, it took far too long to get going and for the first time in a long time, it actually took me months to finish this book! I only read it out of determination to finish it rather than wanting to read it. Not exactly what a good book should do!