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Review: The Swan Thieves (audio)

The Swan Thieves Audio Version

The Swan Thieves
By Elizabeth Kostova
Ready By: Treat Williams, Anne Heche, Erin Cottrell, Sarah Zimmerman and John Lee
(Hachette Audio, Compact Disc, 9781600247453, January 2010)

The Short of It:

I adored the references to art and the mystery behind the main character, but the story was too long and drawn out for my taste.

The Rest of It:

Robert Oliver, a well-known artist, attacks a painting in the National Gallery of Art and is institutionalized due to his unstable behavior. Dr. Marlow is called in to treat him and as luck would have it, he is an artist himself so he understands Oliver in a way that no one else does. As Marlow investigates Oliver’s past, he talks to Oliver’s ex-wife Kate, and his ex-lover Mary in an attempt to piece together a life that has become a big mystery for all involved. In addition to Oliver’s story in the present day, the author also takes us back to the late 1800’s to explore the artists of that time and the painter that Oliver is obsessed with.

There are lots of wonderful visuals in this novel. As an audio book, I lost myself in the descriptions of the paintings numerous times. Listening to it was very calming and the characters were interesting and complex but it’s one of those novels where nothing really happens. There is very little action…very little movement if you get my drift and this made the story drag. Drag, I say! Plus, the reading itself was not that great. Much of it seemed trite and I can’t figure out if that is due to the readers (there are several) or the dialogue or a combination of both.

As an audio book with 17 CDs, I was willing to put up with the lack of action but as a book, I think I would have gotten frustrated with it. At about disc 14, I was thinking that I might skip a few tracks just to get back to the meat of it, but I continued on thinking I’d miss something critical. In hindsight, I don’t think I would have missed much.

I don’t want you to think that I didn’t enjoy this one, because  I did but I don’t think this author is for me. I had a hard time with The Historian and could not finish it (too wordy). Had this one not been on audio it probably would have been a DNF (do not finish) for me because it was also very wordy and dense. If it had been a bit shorter, and the dialogue a bit more realistic, I think I could have loved this one because it contains all of the elements that I love…madness, art, conflicted characters, etc.

For those who choose their audio books based on the reader, you should note that this one is read by many readers (Anne Heche and Treat Williams) to name a few, but the reading was sort of flat and blah.

P.S. I listened to this one with the kids in the car and a couple of tracks were not appropriate for their little ears so if you are taking a road trip with the kiddies, you might want to listen to something else.

Source: Won in a giveaway.

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