Wow! What a story! I absolutely LOVED The Swan Thieves!
Robert Oliver is a famous artist, who can make a landscape leap off the canvas. He is extremely talented. So, its a shock to find out that he took a knife to a painting at the National Gallery of Art. WTF!? Why would he do such a thing? What drove him to it? What had Leda (the painting) done to him? So many questions to be answered. Thankfully, Robert's therapist is determined to find out who Robert Oliver is and what happened to him. Yep, Robert is now residing in a psychiatric facility since his arrest over the painting stabbing. His new doctor is also an artist who can appreciate Robert's talent, but is confounded by his silence. Robert refuses to talk with anyone. So, Marlow (Robert's shrink) sets out to figure out what happened to Robert. He brings him some art supplies so that he can continue drawing and painting - hopefully this will open him up. Instead, the subject of his paintings catches Marlow's eye - its the same woman over and over. Who is she? Why is Robert obsessed with her? Determined to make some progress on his patient's condition, Marlow contacts Robert's ex-wife, Kate. He travels to her home and learns about a man who is talented, was loved, is selfish, and has suffered from bouts of depression and manic behavior for quite some time. He learns about a man who did not seem to even care about his wife or children enough to remember them - he was too consumed by his desire to paint the mystery woman. In the end, his lack of presence (mentally and physically) led to the dissolution of his marriage. However, Robert was not alone for long. He cheated on his wife with a student of his named Mary. Upon leaving Kate, he moves in with Mary and the two begin a passionate affair that soon fizzles. Mary learns that Robert is completely self-absorbed and she finds herself questioning how much he truly cares for her. Marlow learns about all of this through Mary, who he soon finds himself falling in love with. Yes, the therapist goes there. Talk about crossing the line! Anyhow, the more Marlow learns (basically, the more involved he gets in Robert's life), the more he realizes that there is a story behind the woman in Robert's paintings. So, he travels to Acapulco and Paris to get his answers - turns out that that the painting, Leda, was not Robert's intended target. Say what?!
Talk about a mystery with such a fascinating history. I loved the way Kostova brought the past into the present through art, letters, and obsession - it was fantastic! She wrote with such descriptive detail, that provided a deep richness to the story. I found myself easily imagining the characters, the cities, and the artwork. There was color, passion, and such vibrancy radiating from the pages. Learning about the art and its artist was so interesting - their dedication to their work was inspiring. I really enjoyed reading this book so much - in fact, its still haunting me days later.